posted on Jul, 5 2009 @ 10:00 PM
The premise in this thread is that forgiveness is not always what it appears to be, is more complicated than we know, and is quite often mistaken for
I had the honor, recently, of speaking to a group of women who had been abused as children, in the most heinous of ways.
Somewhere during my presentation, I made a remark about "forgiving is not forgetting...it is remembering and letting go". I watched as their
demeanor's changed. I saw hands go up over faces, and I saw tears. Many tears around the room. When I questioned them about what was going on, one
woman voluteered that she had been assured by her minister, that she must forgive her abuser, or she was doomed to damnation. In other words, she was
hellbound. She had tried everyway she could think of to forgive her abuser. But she could not.
I was stunned by this, and asked the women how many of them had forgiven their abusers. I requested a show of hands. One hand raised slightly, then
went back down to her lap. I then asked, how many of them felt doomed because they were unable to forgive their abusers. All hands raised. All, or
most all, by now, crying.
I was horrified. This led me on a quest to study forgiveness, what it really means, and whether or not it is as simple as we seem to think it is.
Can you forgive the unforgivable?
My first attempt at studying forgiveness was a book referred to me by a colleague. It is entitled "The Sunflower" by Simon Wiesenthal. Wiesenthal,
in 1944, was in a Concentration Camp. He was fetched to the bedside of a dying nazi, who wanted the "forgiveness" of "a Jew". The nazi spoke his
piece, (peace) to Wiesenthal. After standing beside the nazi's bedside for a few moments, taking in what was happening, and in full realization of
the meaning of the encounter, he turned, silently, and walked away.
From this encounter "The Sunflower" was born. Wiesenthal asks a variety of people what would they have done, and whether he did the right thing,
and the people in the book respond with multiple insights and scenarios about what they might have done, having been in those circumstances.
The final decision in the book..seems to be that sometimes forgiveness is simply not possible, or that it can take generations to forgive. (I'm
thinking I'm not even Jewish, but I really don't think I have forgiven the nazi's).
Forgiveness is not as easy and as simple as it might appear.
And what is it, really? how do you know when you have forgiven someone? You invite them over to dinner? You say you have? You pretend as though
And if you pretend, then doesn't that make it harder?
If someone is truly, truly, sorry, then it makes it easier.
If someone steps on your toe in line at the grocery.
But what about the big issues? Murder. Rape. Genocide.
What if you say you do forgive to please other people, but in your private heart, you don't.
Do you find it easy to forgive?