#1000Speak – Forgiveness

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You’ll have to forgive me, this post isn’t really very good.  You see, I so much want to participate in this month’s 1000 Voices Speak for compassion, which is about forgiveness this month, but I can’t narrow the topic down enough to make a normal sized book, let alone a blog post.

At first I wanted to start from the view point of religion, even though I make it a point to never discuss religion on my blog.  You see, I once read that while some religions say God can forgive all sins, others say God can only forgive those transgressions against God’s own laws, that if we hurt somebody it lays heavy on our soul until we get the person who we hurt’s forgiveness.  That’s a great angle.  I mean, we can all prostrate ourselves in front of an infinitely powerful being, but can we for our neighbor?  Our friend?  Our enemy?  This also gives the victim a lot of power.

But no, I thought better of doing a religious angle.  Even here I might have offended somebody, and I’m sure I would have if I would have kept in the original “God/Allah/Zeus/Odin/The-Supreme-Being/Whatever” instead of “God”.  Although most religions talk about forgiveness, I’ve noticed that few people who consider themselves religious forgive any who they think slighted their religion.

I touched on a few things there that I could talk about without the religious angle.  How about talking about how to ask for forgiveness?  I mean, you have to really understand you are wrong, humble yourself, admit your mistake, apologize and then ask, “Can you forgive me?”  Just going through these motions, if you really mean it, while deflating yourself, actually makes you grow in other, better ways.  But no, I can’t really think of where I’d go from there without writing that ten volume set.

There is also the viewpoint of the one wronged, the forgiver.  The power it gives the victim, the closure it can bring, the peace.  If the one being forgiven didn’t ask for it, it gives the one doing the forgiving a moral superiority of types.  It can return dignity.  But what do you say about the parents who forgive the man who murdered their daughter but who never showed remorse?  Or what do you say about the parents who don’t forgive that man, ever, even if shows remorse and cries for their forgiveness?  I don’t know, it get’s complicated, particularly for a short blog post. There are just too many angles.

Of course there is a society level.  There are people in this world who are still mad at things that happened hundreds, even thousands of years ago.  They can’t let go.  They can’t forgive.  People hate other people over something their great-25-times-grandfathers did to each other in ninth century.  They kill each other over it.  How does that fit in?  Forgive me, but I can’t even fathom how I’d even start on this.

Of course there is also the definition.  What does this word really, truly mean?  Forgiveness is at the peak of compassion, of empathy.  It is looking the one who wronged you in the eyes and saying, “I see you and know you.  You are human, just like me.  You did wrong, perhaps even evil.  And yet, you are human, after all, just like me.  And I forgive you.”  It is huge.  How does a definition even begin to wrap around all that it implies?

Oh well, I can’t do it.  I can’t.  I can’t write a deep, meaningful post on the subject without going on for pages and pages, volumes and volumes.  I just can’t, so please forgive me.

This post is part of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion.  I’ve had a personal vision of compassion that I’ve been sharing on most of my posts on the subject:

Empathy is the glue that holds society together and compassion is what makes a group of people a civilization. Without holding our hands out to our fellow humans we become savages. We are all in this together, in a closed system, so we must all help each other. How lonely life must be for those selfish people who don’t realize this simple truth! How lonely for anyone who doesn’t realize that all are our brothers and sisters! How lonely must the self-righteous be!

Find out more about this movement.  See the 1000 Voices Speak blogsite and the Facebook page.  And add your voice to our 1000 voices all speaking about compassion!  To see more for this month or add your post, see the “Linky

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30 thoughts on “#1000Speak – Forgiveness

  1. carolschepper

    It’s a very difficult to narrow down – but you did a great job of not narrowing it down :-)
    It is truly impossible to write about most aspects of forgiveness without feeling like you’re writing a textbook – I try occasionally, but it is difficult. And you did a great job. Thanks for that!

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  4. roweeee

    Great post, Trent. It shows a great depth of understanding about forgiveness and I truly appreciated how you viewed the topic from these different angles and really gave a sense of perspective…especially when cultural groups have hated each other for thousands of years. Put like that, the madness really stood out.
    I have come to appreciate over time how the more you know about a subject, the more you realise the less you know. That even your so-called “expertise” is but a spit in the ocean.
    That’s what I suspect you were grappling with.
    You’ve already read my post but if I had more time, I’d also write one either by, for or about dogs because we seem to forgive most of their misdemeanors much faster and easier than people.
    That said, Bilbo has been in trouble this weekend. The kids have been with my parents all week and he is not coping. Geoff has been working on our old car out the back and replacing the gear box, which is a huge job. Anyway, Bilbo who unfortunately can not express his angst in words has been making deposits right next to the car, which Geoff has unfortunately stepped in. Bilbo spent yesterday in his kennel after peeing in the house when told to go out. I wasn’t home so don’t know how things escalated like that. The poor mutt is 9 years old and has no way of knowing they’ll be back tomorrow. He also doesn’t know that school’s about to go back and he and Lady will be home alone a lot more. He is a dog and expects to be part of a pack and when half the pack disappears without explanation, it’s only natural to be upset. As far as I’m concerned, nothing to forgive. Indeed, he might need pats more than exile. xx Rowena

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Rowena. It is a huge topic and people either had to narrow it down to something specific, like you did, or be very general.
      I once read that knowledge is like an infinite plain and what we know is a circle on that plain. We can look at the edge of the circle and know that we don’t know stuff, but the bigger the circle, the bigger our personal knowledge, the more we see that we don’t know. Put this way it makes a lot of sense that the more we more, the more we know how much we don’t know and why people with small amounts of knowledge on something often think they are experts.
      Yes, dogs are good in the forgiveness area. they can also be bad when their routines are upset or the pack is split. Our dogs play very, very rough. Thursday Fiyero went to Doggie Daycare while Idina stayed home (she hunkered down and didn’t want to go.) Fiyero got in trouble a few times for playing to rough and letting up when the people there tried to get him to quit. I think part of it is how hard he plays with idina, but part because she wasn’t there.
      Yes, going in the wrong place is one thing dogs do when they are stressed. i hope yours can work it out when half the pack goes back to school!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is a hard topic. And perhaps there are things and people that can’t be forgiven. Is there any kind (not hateful) person on Earth who could forgive Hitler? Of course it doesn’t have to be that big or that evil, but that is an example of somebody that cannot be forgiven. It is up to the person who is wronged to forgive or not to forgive, it is a choice.

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  5. jamborobyn

    Forgiveness frees….
    From my experience forgiving oneself is the only thing that matters. Forgiving others is an act that might help another person reach the point where they are able to forgive themselves, but it’s no-one’s responsibility to give nor right to receive forgiveness. In any case, I don’t see it as a moral imperative which surprises me because I haven’t thought about what it means to me in a long time. I used to think it would make me a better person, to forgive others, but it frequently makes no difference – the only person it affects in any tangible way is myself and that effect is a feeling akin to liberation. Highly subjective, I know ;-)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I think most would agree with you that in the real world usually the one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one doing the forgiving. It is freeing. You also brought up something that few did here, though they have in other 1000Speak posts, and that is how important it is to forgive one’s self. People drive themselves crazy over mistakes and bad choices.
      One problem with this post is I had no idea where to begin on the subject and so I decided to punt (American football term). But there has been a lot of interesting discussion!

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      1. jamborobyn

        You could view it that way (punt) but there is also the alternative perspective… By not offering a definitive position on forgiveness you have created a space for exploration and discussion, intentionally or not. Personally, I feel taking this approach more closely aligns with the intention of 1000 voices. Sometimes to speak out, sometimes to create an environment for others to speak, all furthering the cause of increasing awareness and empathy. Thank you for provoking my thoughts.

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          You are welcome. And thank you for joining the discussion.
          I took much the same approach when I did the 1000Speak “love” and again for their “thankfulness”. I think you are right, the purpose for it is to make people think and to open discussion. Perhaps throwing out a lot of little tidbits without staking out any one viewpoint instead is a good way to go. It has opened up at least some discussion and I hope even more thought on the matter.

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          1. jamborobyn

            Just as an aside, I hope they do some words that are usually considered negative over at 1000Speak because that’s when compassion, empathy and exploration of different perspectives really has the power to make a positive difference. Big fan of experiential learning here… it’s good to put forgiveness and love through their paces so we understand their true value.

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            1. trentpmcd Post author

              I agree, it would be interesting, and difficult, to take on some of the harder subjects. Last year they did do “bullying” once. I did an “ad” for the topic, inviting people to join and throwing out some very different views, but I didn’t write a post for the actual event (I just searched my site to see).

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  6. Kit Dunsmore

    I struggled to write about this topic as well, but my problem went the other way: do I know enough about forgiveness to say anything of value? Over the last decade, I’ve worked on forgiving people, but trying to write about forgiveness made me think I have more work to do. You brought up lots of interesting points about the challenges of forgiving (like forgiving an unrepentant murderer). Now I have even more to think about!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is a hard topic, no matter how you look at it. In ways I’m in the same boat: If I were to seriously take one of the topics I mentioned, I’d have to research it. But by the time I finished I’d want to write that book… I hope I didn’t add to the confusion of what you are planning on writing!

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      1. Kit Dunsmore

        I wrote my post yesterday, so I already worked something out for now… Loving all the forgiveness posts today. They are really thought-provoking!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      In ways it is most important for the one doing the forgiving to give closure and peace of mind. It is often hard to write the #1000speak stuff and this was such a huge topic. If you do get a chance to write something I’m looking forward to what you have to say.

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  7. herheadache

    Of course we all forgive you.
    :-)
    Well said. If you can’t say any of it, ask for forgiveness for that and move on.
    You make a good point. How do we really talk about this subject? It’s such a complex thing.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It’s a hugely complex subject, so full of emotion. It’s going to be interesting to see what everyone comes up with for the topic – usually a couple of hundred people post on the monthly topics!
      Thanks!

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  8. davidprosser

    You chose a very emotive subject there. If you did wrong I’d think the only thing you can do is apologise and hope for forgiveness without asking fir it. That remains the privilege of the one transgressed against. For that person, I’d say whether the one who harmed you apologises or not, forgiveness is more for your peace of mind than for theirs. You have to be able to live your life without the problem eating at you every day.
    Religions are the least forgiving as they find the crime is a personal slight to one of their rules/commandments. They can bring whole congregations to bear against you.
    Hugs

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is a huge and emotive subject. And you are right, although the transgressor can do all he or she can to make amends, it is the privilege of the one who has been wronged to give forgiveness. And in many ways, it is the one doing the forgiving that is helped the most by it.
      Thanks for the comment! Have a great day!

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  9. Corina

    It’s such a difficult subject. Too many emotions tied in to it. I always say that I can forgive anything but I can’t forget. In my case, forgiving sets me free but remembering who wronged me is a kind of protection from it happening again, kind of guarding against it.

    Forgiveness really is freeing. It allows us to move on and not stay stuck in the past, in negativity. I wish everyone could learn to forgive.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It is freeing, it is a type of closure. But it is also a huge subject! Yes, it would be great if everyone could learn to forgive. It is a difficult thing.
      Thanks for the comments.

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