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Tony Grist

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Forgiveness [Aug. 28th, 2009|09:39 am]
Tony Grist
Forgiveness is always sublime, but...

A friend of mine is being pestered by a man from her past of whom she has less than delightful memories. Maybe he's just amazingly thick-skinned and unaware of how she feels about him- or maybe he's been put up to it by his AA group. Apparently that's something the AA do- they urge their members to go out and seek reconciliation with those they've wronged.
 
It's not that she doesn't forgive him, it's just that she'd rather he faded back into the woodwork. Does forgiveness mean you have to hang out with your former enemies?

It's a very egotistical thing, wanting to be forgiven. You've hurt this person and now you're creeping round them going, "Please make me feel better".  It turns the victim into the aggressor.  Wouldn't it be kinder- more honest-  to keep the hell out of their way?

Or are you doing them a favour by giving them the opportunity to forgive, which- as I said at the beginning- is always a sublime act?

Someone should write a novel about this.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2009-08-28 04:08 pm (UTC)
I've been in a somewhat similar situation -- someone seeking to make amends to me -- and I've struggled with it. In my case it was a family member from whom I didn't, ultimately, *want* to stay estranged -- perhaps that made it even more difficult, because I couldn't just write him off and never speak to him again (there were other important family reasons for this too). I did a lot of musing about what the hell forgiveness means to me, anyway... and eventually (maybe a year and a half after his initial gesture?) I did believe that I'd reached "forgiveness," and also the beginning of reconciliation -- and we are friendly and cooperative now (we both need to be involved in our parents' care, for instance) -- but that doesn't mean I "forget" what he did or say "oh, that's OK." It's a very deep and dark (not meaning dark in a BAD sense, more in the sense of "not cheery and light") experience...

As for novels... I can't think of an exact instance, but it seems to my foggy memory that Susan Howatch may have some of this -- the complexity of forgiveness in real life -- in her Starbridge novels.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-08-28 05:36 pm (UTC)
Families present a special case. Where an ex-lover can sail off over the horizon and never be seen again, we'll never be entirely free of the people we're related to.

I like that you use "dark" to mean something other than "bad". The dark is where seeds germinate.
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[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2009-08-28 05:43 pm (UTC)
I think that I also believe that forgiveness is an inside job, both for the one seeking forgiveness and the one who is asked to forgive. As one in the latter category, I have experienced forgiving someone's wrong against me as more like "letting go" of it to the extent that it is no longer eating away at me and harming me.

Huge topic, of course, and hard to be articulate about. Yeah, that's so true about seeds and the dark. Human beings (and other animals) also develop in the dark of the womb.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-08-28 07:47 pm (UTC)
That's right. Holding onto a grudge hurts the grudger a lot worse than it hurts the grudgee.

"Dark" and "darkness" are my favourite words
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