Must We Always Forgive?
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20-11-2012, 11:35 PM (This post was last modified: 20-11-2012 11:40 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
(20-11-2012 10:05 PM)kpax Wrote:  When I was a Christian I almost felt obligated to forgive those who did me wrong. Now I no longer feel that obligation.

Maybe in cases where it's better to forgive than to harbor things to save a friendship, relationship or relations with a family member but what about in instances when the person is the type to completely walk all over you over and over again or take advantage of you?

Would it be okay not to forgive?
From a moral/ethical standpoint? It would depend on the offense. Holding a grudge for someone taking the last biscuit at Thanksgiving without asking you if you want it? Bad. Holding a grudge for your significant other cheating on you with your sibling, both of them doing it just to piss you off? Less bad. Bottom line, if you're wondering about the ethics of it, you have to step back and ask "what would the world be like if people everywhere got prissy over this sort of thing on principle?" If you think that comes out even or as a positive, then yes, it's ethical to not forgive.

Also, no grudge police are going to come and haul you away for not forgiving.

That said, I'd suggest a different viewpoint for this question. Almost by definition, if you're not forgiving -- and I'm not talking about whether you actually come out and tell them you forgive them, I'm talking about whether you're internally chewing glass and glaring daggers at the backs of their heads -- then you're letting emotions rule you. Which... isn't entirely bad. After all, even a purely rational individual must have some way of gauging utility. But that type of strong emotion -- stress, anger, etc -- IS bad for you. Not only do people do stupid(er) things when they're mad -- both in terms of active decisions regarding the subject they're mad about, as well as unrelated things like driving -- but the physiological effects on the human body are also negative. Momentary bouts of anger aren't so bad, medically, but carrying it around long-term is. Another pragmatic point of consideration is how it affects your social circle. Usually there will be third parties who don't want to be caught between the two of you, and if you pursue a feud with someone you'll likely force a good number of them to choose sides. Don't expect all of them to choose yours.

I try to pursue a strategy of "forgive, but don't forget". Forgive, in that I let go of the anger and stop letting it get to me. Emotionally, I move beyond the offense(s). But I don't forget, in that I take cognizance of the offense(s) and react in a purely practical manner. Often, I choose to give a person a second or third chance because really, one data point is nothing to base a decision off of. But for repeat offenders, it can mean minimizing their opportunity to offend again, possibly cutting contact entirely. The "forgiving" part here is simply that I let go of the anger before making that decision -- it's cold blooded and pragmatic, nothing more. (In theory, at least. In practice, emotional self-control is not easy.)

As an example, I'm a vegetarian, and one day a friend of mine thought it would be fun to slip bits of bacon into my soup. I was pissed -- not about meat-eating in general, but about having my ability to make serious decisions about what I eat taken away from me. After I cooled down, we continued on as friends, but I refused to eat anything he prepared for me, or leave him unattended with my food, and I made no bones over the fact that I couldn't trust him in that regard. This wasn't a grudge, but a practical response to the offense. After a while, he realized that this was more than just poking fun at me and that he'd violated my trust. He asked for a second chance, got it, and proved trustworthy from then on. If he had proven untrustworthy on a broad range of subjects (rather than just not respecting my choices regarding food), I would likely have limited or cut contact entirely.

Bottom line, forgiveness as an abstract virtue is of only abstract value, but there are several pragmatic advantages to it.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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21-11-2012, 07:31 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
It depends on what "forgiveness" means to you. When it comes to me personally, I've moved on from certain experiences in my life, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I forgive those who have inflicted those experiences upon me. There are certain people who have done me very wrong, but right now, I don't care what they're doing. I don't think about them (often), I don't care if they're happy, sad, whatever. They've become irrelevant to me. But, if they were to show up on my doorstep tomorrow, it'd be all I could do not to physically destroy them.

True forgiveness - the letting go of past faults - is not something I'm great with. And when I've spoken to others, it seems that they're not either. So again, I guess this comes down to how you define forgiveness. I don't think there's anything wrong with holding on to past wrong-doings. It's good to remember what certain people have done to you, so you're able to avoid those situations in the future. (Turn the other cheek; you'll get slapped) I'd say a lack of forgiveness is only an issue if it's become a detriment to you.

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21-11-2012, 07:46 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
Hey, Misanthrope.

I hear your sentiment echoed often. It seems to me that there are a number of people today that either have a hard time with forgiveness or that look at forgiveness in a negative light. What are your opinions on this trend? What do you think the causes and consequences are of that sort of attitude?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-11-2012, 07:51 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
If by "forgiveness" you mean, "forcibly feed into the wood chipper," nah, we don't hafta do that all the time. Just once in a while. Thumbsup

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21-11-2012, 08:10 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
(21-11-2012 07:46 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Misanthrope.

I hear your sentiment echoed often. It seems to me that there are a number of people today that either have a hard time with forgiveness or that look at forgiveness in a negative light. What are your opinions on this trend? What do you think the causes and consequences are of that sort of attitude?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
It depends on the person, obviously, but in most cases, I would imagine it has to do with a sense of feeling powerless. It's natural to feel that as long as you hold something against a person, they're no longer victimizing you. As I said in the Philosophy thread, "There is strength in anger". This strength may be tangible or it may only be imagined, but what is relevant is that we feel it. Humans gravitate toward that which gives them a sense of strength and security.

This is only partly true in my own case, but for the most part, it's simply a lack of being able to fully forgive. My experiences changed who I once was into something else. Certain Human traits and tendancies were taken from me, and I'm no longer able to do or feel certain things. Forgiveness is one of those things. To me, it's no longer about emotion; it's about logic. And as I said before, that's not necessarily a bad thing, because emotions will keep a wife clinging to her abusive, philanderous husband, or a man chasing after a woman he knows full-well doesn't love him and would only be detrimental to him in the long-run. Emotions drive a person to forgive these things and more, which places the forgiver directly in the path of any future trauma which may come along. Fortunately for me, some of this has been taken away from me. I now calculate things more logically than I once did. I've not been hurt since.

For some, this works. For others, it doesn't. Forgiveness can certainly be a good and noble thing, but that doesn't mean that it's inherantly the best or most logical course of action to be taking.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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21-11-2012, 08:20 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
I may forgive, but I never forget.

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21-11-2012, 08:28 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
I think forgiveness is vastly overrated. Vastly.

To find peace for oneself, acceptance is what you're looking for.

Forgiveness is not possible without acceptance, but only acceptance is necessary for oneself.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-11-2012, 09:10 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
(20-11-2012 11:13 PM)Dark Light Wrote:  Some things are forgivable, others are not. Some things are forgettable, others are not. That's the stone cold truth, take it or leave it.

Only you can decide what trespasses are which.
This exactly Thumbsup

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21-11-2012, 10:06 AM
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
(21-11-2012 08:28 AM)Chas Wrote:  I think forgiveness is vastly overrated. Vastly.

To find peace for oneself, acceptance is what you're looking for.

Forgiveness is not possible without acceptance, but only acceptance is necessary for oneself.
To be slightly less terse, acceptance is about inner peace.

When I first heard "acceptance is the key", I said "Fuck that!".

However, acceptance isn't rolling over, it is the acknowledgment of reality.

For example, your boss is an asshole.
Do you forgive him/her for being an asshole and treating you like crap? No.
Do you accept your lot of working for an asshole and being treated like crap? No.

What you do is accept the fact that your boss is an asshole and that isn't likely to change.
You acknowledge the reality and then decide what to do.
Accept the reality of the situation; stay and be treated like crap, get a new job, get him/her fired, whatever.

I'm not a big fan of forgiveness, but I have a great deal of experience with acceptance.
I just don't always remember to use that knowledge and experience. (see this thread ). Drinking Beverage

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21-11-2012, 10:29 AM (This post was last modified: 21-11-2012 10:50 AM by Rum.)
RE: Must We Always Forgive?
THERE IS NO HIGHER VALUE IN LIFE THAN LOVE

You know regardless of the religious implications of forgiveness it is one principle that I actually think the bible has right, Forgiveness allows you to move on with your life instead of holding onto bitterness and anger, which can be detrimental to your health. It also demonstrates a love and compassion for others that should be high on the list of our own priority's regardless of beliefs.

Does this mean you should just let people walk all over the top of you , of course not, however we have all made mistakes in our pasts and where would we be if everyone refused to forgive each other.

To forgive someone does not mean you need to forget what they have done that can be too much to ask and is not always required, what is beneficial is to let go of any anger and thoughts of revenge, resentment ect towards them as this is only harmful to you.

Negative emotions have a nasty habit of coming back to bite us on the ass, learning to deal with those emotions in a constructive way is a whole lot easier in the long run than turning into an angry negative vindictive person. and believe it or not it can be really satisfying to know you are the better person for being able to forgive.

Sometimes to love someone is the ability to say no to a situation that is wrong, however we should probably have a long hard look at our motives when dealing with some situations as often we behave out of anger and revenge rather than love.
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