Saturday, 12 April 2014
But that doesn't mean that I overlook their faults, that I don't care if they've done something nasty or harmful. It doesn't mean I just turn the other cheek or pretend it never happened.
Of course I feel angry or disappointed or shocked or disillusioned. I might want them to make up for what they've done. I might want them to see the error of their ways. But I don't harbour any vicious or hateful feelings towards them. To my mind, that would damage me more than it damages them.
I certainly don't believe in an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. That doesn't solve anything, it usually only escalates the bad feeling as it turns into a tit-for-tat cycle of violence.
On the other hand, I don't much believe in the sentimental idea that forgiveness is only real forgiveness if you not only shun revenge but feel affection and compassion for the person who's wronged you. I think that's possible only if it's someone you love deeply in the first place, like a spouse or a child. With anyone else, it's asking an awful lot, especially if the person has done something quite brutally and coldly abusive.
Plenty of people have treated me badly, starting with my father, but if I'd nursed grudges against them, plotted revenge against them, I would have become a horribly sour and twisted individual. It would have driven all the happiness and buoyancy out of me and utterly contaminated my life. And why give such people the satisfaction of knowing I'm busy obsessing about them, fixating on them, when they're simply not worth thinking about?
But forgiveness seems to be a very under-rated practice right now, in the age of relentless smear campaigns and character assassination. It's about time it came back into favour.