Forgiveness. What does ‘forgiveness’ mean? What does it really mean to forgive? Does it mean to no longer care, to not care? Does it mean to ‘let go?’ How is forgiveness different from forgetting? How do you forgive? Who needs to be forgiven? Is there a point in forgiving someone who doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong? Do we only forgive what is wrong? Is forgiveness about them, or us? Do we sometimes think that it’s about us when it’s really about them?
What are things that fall into the realm of forgiveness? I ponder whether I, myself, need forgiveness; but, for what? What have I done that I consider wrong? What makes something wrong? Wrong for whom? Whom have I wronged? To me, a thing that needs forgiveness is a wrong done to another, doing something to intentionally hurt someone. That is an act that may fall into the realm of forgiveness. But just because someone may ‘feel’ that I have wronged him or her doesn’t mean that I necessarily did something wrong, for if I do not intentionally mean to hurt someone, then how can I be held responsible for their feelings?
This also goes into the realm of whether or not we can say people hurt other people, or if it is rather that people are in control of their own feelings, and either allow themselves to be hurt or not (which does not have to also mean not caring); the point is where the control lies.
I have discussed this elsewhere, so I will not go into it again here. But I feel it comes down to intention and motivation. If the intention is hurtful, or selfish, basically is not from a place of love and truth, then I think that we can say that a person can hurt another, and that that could fall into the realm of forgiveness. But if the intention is not wrong then I do not think that person can be said to hurt another, for it is rather the person hurt who has not understood the situation correctly, and thus, they are hurt by their own ignorance.
And so I go back to myself. Do I feel the need for forgiveness, and if so, for what? I know that I feel guilt, but not for things I have done. I do not need to be forgiven for whatever I feel guilty about, for that which I have not done. (Imagine someone who thinks they do.) I grew up feeling (made to feel?) guilty about various things, though I think this is typical of many children. There is a fine line between feeling bad, feeling sad, and guilt. But I can’t think of things I have done for which I would seek forgiveness.
This is a very complex issue. One of the things we cannot avoid in this discussion is the concept of ‘sin.’ I have already said that I do not believe in the concept of sin, for it has overtly religious overtones, and there is a particular stigma attached to the idea of a sin. By definition, a sin is something that requires forgiveness. Here is the point where it all goes awry. I am not saying that people do not do things that are wrong, or hurtful, or hateful, and even deplorable, for such things are done every day all over the world. But one of the problems I have with the concept of sin is that many of the things that are considered to be sins by the (illegitimate) ‘powers that be’ are not things I consider to be sins.
People are made to feel guilty about so many things that they should not feel guilty for at all. But when we consider the things that I do consider to be wrong, then it gets complicated. Take, for example, the act of cheating on someone in a relationship. This is not an accidental act. It is wholly intentional, and the intentions cannot be anything but selfish, immature, and cruel. How do you forgive someone for that? Again, what does ‘forgiveness’ really mean? Does it mean that an act that was not okay becomes okay? That doesn’t make sense. I think that it is more complex than that.
From my personal notes, 8/20/00