Thursday, December 20, 2012

it is always the season to forgive

There are petty reasons to forgive people—if you want to annoy your enemies or look like you're better than them, forgive them first and unconditionally.

There are selfish reasons—whether hating people is bad for your soul depends on your faith, but medical science says stress and anger will shorten your life.

There are practical reasons—nursing a hatred distracts you from more important things.

And there are wonderful reasons—forgiveness opens the possibility of a better world for everyone.

There are no bad reasons, so long as you know what forgiveness entails. It can't have conditions—that's a truce, not peace.

It may be the hardest task anyone can take on—every war proves that. But all great teachers know its importance.

The Gospel of Luke says, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

The Talmud says, "Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand."

The Qur'an says believers are people who "when they are angry they forgive."

Real Live Preacher on "Forgiveness":
Forgiveness does not always lead to a healed relationship. Some people are not capable of love, and it might be wise to let them go along with your anger. Wish them well, and let them go their way.

Whatever happens, forgiveness is good food for your soul.
Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan said, "The lover of goodness loves every little sign of goodness. He overlooks the faults and fills up the gaps by pouring out love and supplying that which is lacking. This is real nobility of soul. Religion, prayer, and worship, are all intended to ennoble the soul, not to make it narrow, sectarian or bigoted. One cannot arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive the imperfections of human nature. For all men, whether worthy or unworthy, require forgiveness, and only in this way can one rise above the lack of harmony and beauty, until at last one arrives at the stage when one begins to reflect all that one has collected."

The Sikhs' Adi Granth may say it best: "Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself."

Maggie and Suzzy Roche - "Anyway":

"Bring em all in: - the Waterboys:


  1. The trouble I have with unconditional forgiveness is that there are people I do not WANT to forgive. There aren't very many, but I call them "write-offs"; they're people I wish I could erase from my past. Forgiveness seems, to me, to give those people a pass back into my emotional neighborhood. I don't even want them in my -physical- neighborhood, thanks. This may be "bad" for me in a moral sense, but it's also very much self-defense, emotionally.

    I've been thinking about this a lot in recent months, because I've realized I need to take back the forgiveness I expressed towards one person many years ago. I've gone thru the motions, I've written and said the words, I've even felt -- at times -- that I sincerely did forgive the person. But I've realized that this individual's actions were, truly, NOT forgivable. I shouldn't have tried. I should have added them to my "write-offs" list many, many years ago, instead of trying to be a "good" person towards them.

    (I've drafted a post, titled "Four Ugly Stories" about this for my own blog. I wrote it several months ago, and have looked at the draft about once a week since then, trying to decide whether to post it at all. I've thought of asking several people whose input I'd consider worthwhile to take an advance look at it; one of those people is you.)

    1. Forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to be friends with them--I've forgiven a few people I have no plans to hang out with. It means that if something bad happened to them, I would help them, just as I would try to help anyone, but otherwise, forgiving someone creates no obligation on the forgiver.

      I would suggest that not forgiving them keeps them in your emotional neighborhood. I forgave a few to get them out of mine.

      Also, not suggesting this is easy. I could name a few folks that I'm still working on. I suspect forgiving is a process, so it's legit to get annoyed again, then remind yourself that you don't have to carry that grudge.