May 27, 2010
Philosophical Phun - Forgiveness :o)
The term ‘forgive’ derives from ‘give’ or to ‘grant’, as in ‘to give up,’ or ‘cease to harbor (resentment, wrath).’ More specifically, ‘forgive’ refers to the act of giving up a feeling, such as resentment, or a claim to requital or compensation. And the term ‘forgiveness’ is defined as the action of forgiving, pardoning of a fault, remission of a debt, and similar responses to injury, wrongdoing, or obligation.
In granting forgiveness, a victim of wrong re-orients a relationship that has been disrupted or compromised by wrongdoing. This theme is an integral part of forgiveness common both to western philosophical and theological traditions, and is often envisioned as part of a more elaborate interaction in which people seek to atone for wrongs and secure forgiveness in the name of interpersonal reconciliation or in the pursuit of the ultimate human benefit, divine salvation.
Maintaining or perpetuating personal relationships is one of the clearest and most important ends of forgiveness, though not the only important one. Forgiving those who wrong us often helps us move beyond strong negative emotions which, if allowed to fester, could harm us psychologically and physically. Forgiveness benefits wrongdoers, as well, by releasing them from the blame and hard feelings often directed toward them by those they wrong, or helping them transcend the guilt or remorse they suffer from having done wrong, thereby allowing them to move forward in their lives.
For me, forgiveness means acknowledging yet moving past a transgression. This is not done lightly, and usually involves a lot of contemplation. The closer and more important the person is to us, the more contemplation that must occur. The saying fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you, comes to mind. There have definitely been times that I have truly forgiven. Of course, on the flip side, I can think of people that are not deserving of forgiveness, and those folks get very special contemplation.