Thursday, March 01, 2012

Forgiveness is Acquiescence, Part 1

"To know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody."
-- Quentin Crisp

I caused quite a dust-up yesterday with my comments about forgiveness.

A lot of it still doesn't make sense to me.  I understand the concept that I should not carry around with me some desire for vengeance.  Even on the edge of understanding that justice is not guaranteed.

But why should I forgive?  Why should I say to myself and the world that some injury perpetrated on me is forgivable?

The argument is that forgiveness is not about saying that what has been done to you is "all right".  Well, what is it then, if it's not an acquiescence, an acceptance, a capitulation? 

I made the point that Grace is also a fallacy. 

Grace given from a position of absolute power is a trivial act.  Someone in power is not harmed by any injury, there is no 'need' for forgiveness.  No damage was done. The worst is that some intent was expressed against the powerful person, even if the result is nothing.  What's the point of forgiveness at that point?  No blood, no foul?

On the other end, grace given from a position of abject poverty is futile.  An impoverished person has no means to pursue vengeance, retribution, justice.  Forgiveness from that position is a formality, and not even that.  It's a futile gesture that lends an air of credence and acceptability to a condition of impotence.

What's missing is contrition. 

An offender who offers no act of contrition is no more deserving of forgiveness than a rabid dog.  The dog is rabid, the dog attacks, and will continue to attack, because it is not in its right mind, knows not what it is doing, and will eventually die but not before infecting others.  That dog is worthy of pity, maybe, but not forgiveness.

But it's not it's fault, I could say.  True, but that takes the idea of forgiveness even further away from the consideration.  If the dog has no choice, then it has no ... need... appreciation... value in forgiveness.  Grace given to a dying dog is meaningless.  Comfort and assistance, maybe, but there is no forgiveness here.

Maybe I'm totally missing the concept. 

I keep going back to my understanding of what it is to forgive. 

Person A harms Person B in some manner.  Person B chooses two things.  First, Person B chooses to remain civil, neutral, within himself.  Person B chooses non-retaliation.  Person B absorbs the injury into himself and does not demand recompense.  Second, Person B announces to the world that the actions of Person A are without consequence.  That is either arrogance or impotence. 

Forgiveness seems to have these two components, each of which I find abhorrent on their on and together are anathema.

Non-retaliation, the obviation of justice, recompense, and consequence is choosing to be a chump.

Public admission of no-harm-no-foul is an admission of impotence or power so absolute that harm is irrelevant.  As near as I can tell, that's about the only positive path through this.  The only way to "forgive" is to possess some personal power so great that harm to one's self is irrelevant.

Without that kind of power, forgiveness is an act of weakness or self-delusion.

Any yet, I'm not talking about carrying around a loaded gun the rest of your life with the intent to kill the offender and that becoming the all-consuming life's work because of some perceived harm.  If that were the case, of course, then we would all be on the short end of someone's stick.

If I had the chance, though, I would exact revenge of some sort on a few people who have harmed me.  I freely admit that.  I will not forgive them to the point of letting them "off the hook". 

My desire for compensation may be ultimately irrelevant, but I'm not going to say that it doesn't exist.  It lives in a cesspool of other negative emotions with everything else that I feel.  If I could make someone else suffer to the extent that they made me suffer, I would take that chance.  I would do it.  So would you.

So would you, unless you were either in the position of Absolute Power or Abject Poverty.  Arrogance or Impotence.  Anything in between is a matter of degree.

Do these things consume my thoughts?  Only in as much as I can't understand why I seem to be "the only one" who thinks "Forgiveness is the first step to healing" is all a bunch of hooey.  I am here because of the choices I made and the things that people have done to me.  I take responsibility for my own choices.  I demand retribution for the things that have been done to me.

No comments: