IS IT FORGIVENESS?   13 comments

In juggling lots of things, I don’t want to stray from the central importance of forgiveness. So I’m suggesting that you consider the following question I’ve raised on the “forgiveness” page of my web site. I picked up these two stories at different times on TV. The issue to ponder is which, if either, qualifies as a story of forgiveness.

First story:
When: The day after their sons were killed in an accident caused by a person driving under the influence.
What: Asked if they could ever forgive the driver, the answer was “We forgive him because our religion tells us to.”
Second story:
When: A few days after the school shooting in Connecticut in which their six-year-old daughter died.
What: Asked if they could ever forgive the shooter, the reply was, “Forgiveness hasn’t even entered our thoughts. We can’t take time to focus on the killer. We have to help ourselves and our other children grieve and try to keep on with our lives.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts here as a comment on this blog, or on my Facebook page, 4giveLetGrow, or as a comment on the “forgiveness” page of my web site.

I’ll post my take on it on my web site sometime during the next few days.

Posted February 16, 2015 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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13 responses to “IS IT FORGIVENESS?

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  1. I don’t think forgiving because your religion requires it is true forgiveness. Perhaps acceptance of what happened will help them move on.
    As for the school shooter, perhaps forgiving him might not make any difference to the shooter’s his soul journey, but it may make the grieving family members feel better because the release the negative energy..

  2. ” “We forgive him because our religion tells us to.”” That to me sounds like condemnation – holding the “guilty one” as below where we seem to be – on the good guy’s side. For me, forgiveness comes from a decision to see past the act – horrendous as it may be – to the person behind, who has made a decision made on a false belief.

    “Forgiveness hasn’t even entered our thoughts. We can’t take time to focus on the killer. We have to help ourselves and our other children grieve and try to keep on with our lives.”

    I need to take care of my children and myself first – and then, hopefully come to the place that I WANT to see the truth about the other, beyond the acts

    • Thanks, Leelah. I know we disagree on the extent we need to carry it beyond relieving ourselves of anger and vengeful thoughts. You have the generosity to go even further to grasping the truth about the other. I like/love that about you.

  3. “Forgiveness” based on a religious conviction is not true forgiveness. One can’t mandate such a stance. Feeling too overwhelmed with grieving over an unspeakable loss is not really the time one might consider forgiveness. Many other emotions have to be experienced before that word can mean anything, never mind the act of forgiveness itself.

  4. I was abused as a child. I have moved on and do not hate him but I will never forgive him. I am at peace. I think if I hated him I’d not be able to move on, I don’t think I need to forgive him (and I never will).

    • That was a lot to deal with. I’m glad you are at peace with it. Actually,by my definition you have forgiven him.That is, you’ve accomplished the peace of mind that is the goal of forgiveness which is, after all, for the relief and health of the forgiver. It isn’t true that forgiveness means you have to say what he did was OK, or that you even have to tell him. If refusing to forgive is like locking oneself in a cell and handing the keys to the offender, then forgiving is taking the keys back and leaving the prison of anger and resentment. Out in the fresh air one walks free.

      Thanks so much for commenting, and for accomplishing what you have.

  5. The question is whether one and two are stories of forgiveness. The first scenario appears simple, but may not be when one thinks, for instance, of the Amish in the aftermath of the Nickel Mines school house shooting in PA. They might make the same statement, but it would not be cavalier or pollyanna-ish ignorance as it would likely be by someone trying to “be good” before God. The Amish are well-practiced in forgiveness because they are steeped in the peacemaking tradition of the radical left wing of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation. Others of us are not.

    Story 2 is a story of wisdom and potential forgiveness in process. They are wise to put one foot in front of the other, caring for each other and themselves. Not focusing energy on the killer, which might have dropped them into a bottomless sink hole without light, love, or the capacity to pay attention to streams of healing in the midst of traumatic shock and sudden grief. Their care for each other is the first step toward moving forward. Forgiveness is moving forward, not back, doing the work required to free one’s own spirit from being held prisoner.

    Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in.

    • I love this! Thanks so much for it. I’ll find a way to refer more people to this response.

      Please note my Facebook page 4giveLetGrow where I’m asking for suggestions of what to incorporate into the 15 minutes I’m allowed for the next dialogues on March 24. Any suggestions?

  6. I don’t believe that forgiveness because you have to is real forgiveness. As to the second case, I would say that when the question was asked of those people they were still deep in grief and confusion. Interestingly I had this conversation yesterday with the ladies in my sewing group. We have noticed that many television journalists ask the question “What are you feeling right now”? or “How does that make you feel”? Pretty stupid really. I think journalists should wait until people have had an opportunity to process things and get their emotions under control before even talking about forgiveness.
    You know how I feel about forgiveness. Sometimes it might take 18 years (as in my case) or it may occur quickly but forgiveness is not about doing it because you ‘have’ to but about moving forward once the dust has settled.

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