Not all things are deserving of forgiveness. For instance crimes against humanity are not simply forgiven. It would be arrogant and naïve to expect the victim to hold such a burden. One can “never forget,” and after interviewing many survivors of crimes and genocide, expecting the victim to forgive is not the goal. Healing and owning the truth is more important. In fact sometimes not forgiving the crimes against humanity is more healing because it upholds a boundary and expectation. Forgiveness is deserving where there are two or more parties where love exists. It is up to you to use discernment to know when to apply this grace of forgiveness and not whore it around and bestow it to everyone.
The Western concept of forgiveness is a bit different than the east. We do not necessarily go around saying, “I forgive the criminal.” That is like excusing their behavior as well as setting the model for future behavior of others to follow. Furthermore, there is a shaming element if the victim fails to forgive. If someone has been victimized, then they must be encouraged toward being empowered and if forgiveness is a choice, then it is there’s to make.
It is remembering the crime and instead of dealing with it through the same methods the criminal does, you use your crash much like a phoenix who rises above the ashes. Trying to convince the world jury of your peers of what you went through costs too many tears. Just know your own truth and the burden of convincing others will not matter as much. True forgiveness is rarely reached. It is rare because it is a divine contract between 2 parties. We can forgive cruelty, but if the cruel do not account for their mistakes, that forgiveness can feel incomplete. We can forgive victimizers, but if victimizers do not taste their crime, then forgiveness can feel incomplete. Expecting one person to forgive negates that everything happens in “relation to” and as much as we can forgive, the relationship of forgiveness is a 2 or more party contract.
Instead, forgiveness can be seen as an act of sublimation. Sublimation is taking impulses like vengeance and transforming them into avenues of evolution. Forgiving my 13-year-old cousin’s/goddaughter’s killers would never serve me, but ensuring the voice of the oppressed is heard serves sublimation. For example, many artists take personal pain and alchemize into great artwork.
Forgiveness is a lot like tug of war. You have two certain people pulling at the same rope. The only way to win is not doing what your opponent is doing. You do not pull the rope to win. No. You let go of the rope and your opponent will fall in from his own weight. That is letting go so you that you can finally release the perfume of your soul.
By: Carol Williams
Paragon Therapeutic Services