Sunday, March 18, 2012


" Forgiveness is the answer to a child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again."
                                                                                  Dag Hammarskjold

Forgiveness is on my mind.  I want the World to move towards Peace through forgiveness--not through the horrid catastrophes of war, greed, envy, anger, misunderstanding. Those roads do not lead to Peace..I want our representatives in Congress to apologize to one another.  I want the Israelis and the Palestinians to acknowledge their various wrongdoings and forgive each other.  I want to vote for Love, Forgiveness and an end to war.  I want my government to apologize (sincerely, deeply, humbly) and be forgiven for the drones and the bombs and the soldiers with PTSD who wreak pain and havoc and anguish on people in other countries with whom we share this planet---this forgiving planet.  How long will this planet forgive us for our unconscionable tresspasses?
It's not happening.  Although forgiveness is (or can be) extremely difficult, it is beautiful, healing, worth the struggle.  It ends the struggle.

"Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave."
                                                      Indira Gandhi

I want that virtue.  I am moving towards becoming a person with a forgiving nature.  Right now I'm a person who wants to be a person with a forgiving nature---as soon as I receive an apology or an acknowledgement of understanding from the ones on whom I have chosen to withhold my forgiveness! 
I need to forgive those who, I imagine,  have trespassed against me..  I need to be forgiven for little things...little slights, various acts of selfishness, ignorance, pride...  I guess I could start with myself.

Earlier this evening, I was relaxing in a luxurious bubblebath...and I was thinking of some resentments that I have been keeping close to me---in my thoughts and words and actions.   And I was thinking of some people who are holding on to resentments about me...and I was wondering which part of forgiving is more difficult for me:  apologizing and asking for forgiveness or forgiving another for their real or imagined trespass?   I was surprised at my answer.  I confess that it is much easier for me to apologize than to forgive.  I can say "excuse me" or " my mistake" or "that was my fault" or "I am truly sorry."...but I seem to hang on to perceived slights (unintentional or deliberate) more tightly.  I'd like to come from the "let-it-go" school of forgiveness; the "let-bygones-be-bygones" way forward.  However, it seems insincere to me.  I suffer as a result.  I want to be friends, make up, move forward but first I want to have the conversation that says "I was wrong" or "it was wrong" or "you were wrong" or "what was wrong" or "I lied" or "you lied" or "I felt hurt" or "I was thoughtless"...and I want to put it to rights. 
I want to forgive the lie by acknowledging the lie.  I want to apologize for the slight or the lie and I want to experience that wonderful sense of understanding and forgiveness.  I want to be heard.  And I want to hear--deeply, honestly.  Forgiveness--sincere forgiveness--turns a lamentable incident into nothing worth noting.  I like that old saying, "the truth shall set you free."  It does (but it might very well put you on a lonely path).  Absent the conscious, compassionate acknowledgement of a misdeed, the act of smoothing it over with a "let's forget about it" like putting delicious frosting on a cow pie and calling it a cupcake.  It looks good but it's not.  It is inedible.  Underneath the cover-up, it's still shit. 
It takes both "sides" to heal, to "truly" heal.  If one "side" stops firing insults or rockets and the other side continues with the bombs (figurative or literal) then BOOM.  Everyone loses.  If we know that "everyone loses" unless both "sides" both agrieved parties are able to take steps to resolution (acknowledge, apologize, forgive) then why do we continue to continue on a path of no resolution, no peace, no forgiveness.  Does Life abhor resolution?

For more than a year, I had bad feelings about a colleague who insulted me (punched me right in my most vulnerable figurative spot).  Because of my hurt feelings, I shunned this individual, turned my back, withheld all compliments, gathered compassion and support from friends against this self-created nemesis.  Recently the nemesis and I met at an event of mutual interest...and then, thrown together as we were, we decided to have dinner; just the two of us.  During the salad course, I expressed my reasons for my distance, for my private pouting...And although I don't know how much understanding was exchanged, by the time the espresso had been drunk, the hostility--on my part--disappeared.  And on the part of my invented nemesis...well, my year long absence and ill-feelings hadn't really caused the nemesis much hostility in the first place.    In this instance, the move towards healing was a move towards forgiving myself for my unhelpful emotions as well as forgiving the other for the unintended slights.  It was so easy...yet it took so long to honor the other.

I think it is helpful--even essential--to be open to "the other" in order to eliminate/ameliorate conflict:  conflict with the self as well as with the personification of "the other."  In war or political disagreements and violations, it is not just the failure to consider the position of the other, but the failure to understand the essentialness of considering the position of the other that keeps the driven wedge between the self and "the other"...between this group and that group...between this sovereign nation and that sovereign nation...between this child and that child...between this club and that club...this point of view and an opposing point of view...
No acknowledgement, no listening means no grounds for forgiveness. 
I am still savoring my dinner with this particular "other" and I say, with pleasure, that it was a good exchange.  I listened.  I learned a lot.  My heart melted and I found affection---for both of us.

Listen, Acknowledge, Admit, Forgive, Embrace, Celebrate.  On a small scale, I know it works...on a big scale, not yet...Sadly, not yet.