Tagged: “global perspective”
When I do the forgiveness work, I try to take what you call the personal perspective of the one who hurt me. Yet, how much of this work must be factual rather than speculative?
As you say, we ask people who forgive to take what I call the personal, global, and cosmic perspectives. The personal perspective deals with facts, to the best of your ability to gather those facts about how the other person was raised and the challenges faced in life. If you have no knowledge of the other person’s past, then I recommend that you move to the global perspective in which you begin to see the common humanity that both of you share. You do not need to know precise details of that person’s history to know that you both: 1) have unique DNA, making both of you special and unique; 2) must have adequate nutrition to be healthy; 3) will bleed if cut; and, as one more example, 4) will both die someday. Seeing your common humanity may aid you in softening your heart toward the person, not because of what happened, but in spite of this.
You talk about what you call the “global perspective” in your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice. I am having trouble understanding what this is. Would you please clarify?
A global perspective asks the forgiver to go beyond concrete specifics of the offending behavior and to view the person who offended in a larger context than those behaviors. For example, in taking a global perspective the forgiver is asked to see what is shared in common with the other person. They both need air to breathe; they both have bodies that need nutrition; each will die some day. The point is to help the forgiver see a common humanity between the two, not because of what the other did, but in spite of this.
It seems that you might be trying to seek justice or maybe even a bit of payback from the person. I have found that the quest for justice does not always end this kind of anger. In fact, the quest for justice sometimes can increase the anger if the justice is not realized. A more sure way of reducing your anger is to try to forgive, but only if you are ready to do so. You can forgive without the other person being present by engaging in the exercises of what we call the personal, global, and cosmic perspectives. The gist of these exercises is to see the other in a much broader context than the hurts against you. Try to see the wounds in the other; try to see the common humanity that both of you share. Such perspectives do take time and so please be gentle with yourself during this time.
For additional information, see The Personal, Global, and Cosmic Perspectives.
I am not able to gather any concrete information about the person who robbed me. How then do I forgive when I cannot examine this person’s life, including any trauma that might have contributed to this hurtful action?
We talk about taking three perspectives on the one whom you are forgiving: the personal perspective, the global perspective, and the cosmic perspective. The personal perspective is as you describe: trying to better understand the person’s own struggles, confusions, and wounds. Yet, you still can take the global perspective in which you reflect on the shared humanity between you and the person who robbed you. You both have worth, not because of your actions, but because each of you is unique and irreplaceable in this world. Depending on your spiritual/religious beliefs, you might consider the cosmic perspective: Are you both made in the image and likeness of God? Thinking in these ways may help you soften your heart toward the person.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.