Tagged: “Love”

The eighth of 15 criticisms I see about forgiveness is this: To forgive is to cancel the debt the other owes you and so you never get back what is due.

When you forgive, as stated several times now, you do not cancel justice.  Yes, you can cancel any obligation the other person has in helping to heal your wounds, but even here your forgiving, to be more complete, involves kindness and even love (on its highest level) which goes way beyond canceling the other’s obligation to help you to heal.

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In my culture, filial piety is very important.  This is a strong loyalty toward parents.  I am emotionally unsettled because of how my father treated me in the past.  Yet, I do not want to reconcile with my father.  Do you recommend that I forgive if I can’t reconcile?

You can forgive without reconciling.  Because of the importance of filial piety, your emotions may become more settled if you forgive and then, because of the past treatment, you do not have to approach your father, unless you are ready to do so.

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Doesn’t forgiveness flow from the moral virtue of justice?  As a person strives for justice, then it may be safer to try forgiving. 

Justice in its modern sense is to give people their due, to give them what is owed to them.  For example, if you are a carpenter and build a table for me, justice requires that I pay you because I owe you the money.  With forgiveness, the one who forgives does not exact a price of any kind from the one who acted badly.  The one who forgives demands nothing from the other person.  Instead, the one who forgives offers mercy, which actually is not deserved by the one who acted badly.  If forgiving was equated with any kind of justice, then it follows that the forgiver cannot forgive at all until the other pays some kind of price such as an apology or some kind of recompense.  Therefore, forgiving cannot be seen, in a philosophical sense, to flow from justice.

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