Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,

This conversation is closed.

Can forgiveness be excercised by everyone?

Most of us has been told or heard of "forgive and forget".

We know in some religion that wrongs are known as "sins", and sins can always be "repented", as dictated by some religious scriptures. Some religions perform repentances in places known as "confessions" or "confessional booths".

It is hard to believe that a mistake can so easily be relinquished if you just tell someone.

I think to fix an error, one must take action in a positive way.

On TV, there are always some new way of an individual or small group taking radical action to greatly affect many lives in a negative way.

They seem to have copy-cats as well after it has aired on national television, which seems a bit counter-productive.

Let's say that the individual or group wants to redeem themselves, but their actions were far from a petty crime, like the batman shooter in colorado.

In some religions, they say to love everyone, including your enemies or someone like the batman shooter.

Can someone who did something so radical be forgiven or redeem themselves from their actions?

It is a bit hard to believe that every mistake can be righted.

Can forgiveness be excercised by everyone, or is it only used by someone not involved in an incident so traumatizing?

Should those people and families involved have a right to take radical action toward these radical individuals'?

These crimes are neither petty nor of national proportions like WWII, but those inbetween situations.

It seems hard to be happy, and find compassion to forgive after being victims in these events.

Is there wisdom in those religious scriptures, or are we fooling ourselves?

Not sure where I was headed with this question, but I am a bit criticizing of how over-played the news can be on such serious events.

Like there was no need to get the family of the batman shooter involved with his actions. Really sad how the media hypes things up.

  • Aug 20 2012: The counsel to forgive is primarily for your benefit, not the perpetrator's. Rather than letting the offender 'off the hook', by forgiving you refuse to be 'sucked in' to the downward spiral of blame, hatred, vengeance, recrimination and psychosis. However, that is not enough; standing on the edge of the abyss still has serious dangers and consequences. The 'Dark Knight's pull still has its own hook, line and sinker. Therefore, forgiveness is not one-off in such cases; it has to be ongoing until examination can commence from stillness, i.e., objectively. No one has said anything about forgetting. Plasters (bandaids) that help to heal cuts are insufficient for savage wounds inflicted by terrorists. What might put out a small fire does not quench a holocaust. How long is 'ongoing'? The example of Nelson Mandela is a worthy one - 27 years. What is the effect? The reversal of the downward spiral or, better put, the vortex of mutual blame; it is the reversal of collective psychosis. With Gordon Wilson it was more like 27 minutes, or perhaps, as some say, it was instant. When a bomb at Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, took 11 lives, one of whom was a 20 year old nurse, his daughter, and IRA took the credit; he called for forgiveness rather than retaliation (as was the knee jerk reaction in those days). He looked to heal the community rather than avenge his daughter's death. Stillness settled in. Everyone took a good, long, hard look at themselves individually and collectively. Some in leadership experienced a turning point, a tipping point. Many maintain this was the beginning of the peace process in Northern Ireland, for even though fighting ensued for a time, from this point it had lost its political clout, it was dispirited. Forgiveness is not for sissies. It is transformative. It is about a new creation.
    • thumb
      Aug 20 2012: Forgiveness takes a sort of emotional courage that is not seen often enough. It is also a work in progress for most people.
      • thumb
        Aug 20 2012: I actually feel it is a rare occurence without the presence of other forgiving people around. I find it is something of a mob mentality. Without one with courage, it seems no one attempts forgiveness or other social things, at least in my experiences. I especially despise others being picked on and usually no one does anything about it and they would hope the victim would stick up for themselves, but too bad that doesn't usually play out. =/
        • thumb
          Aug 20 2012: I just want you to know that you never really know when you make a difference and it is key for those behaviours to continue and they do shape the world. YOU stood up for me once and it made all the difference to me as a human being. I probably would have left TED and I do routinely speak up for others here. So, if you care for me, I can continue to care for others. I do not expect more of you -just more of myself. I should have said thanks. It did mean the world to me so be encouraged. Others notice. Others can go on when you help out.
        • thumb
          Aug 24 2012: @ Laura- Wow! You make me believe that a better world is nearer than I realized. You are a great MOM.
        • Aug 25 2012: Laura: Several hours after the shredding, or perhaps after several days, did you ask the children if they noticed anything different; had anything changed? They must be honest. If not, say so. But then keep asking, gently, weeks, months, even a year or two later. In your own forgiveness story what transformed? I'm of the belief that of course, (subtly or dramatically, it depends...), after forgiveness the world in not the same. Getting a handle on this turns an exercise into a habit, interior work into exterior evidence; a forgiving person is a world apart from one unpracticed in forgiveness.

          Derek: Debra's right, thoughts are energy. When mixed with intentionality or will, they acquire substance, even form (this applies to both good and bad thoughts). Training the will for the service of others gives good thoughts, especially those coming from stillness, a special 'place'. With practice both the bully and the victim can be brushed into sobriety by your stillness.
      • Aug 21 2012: Some say athletes are made not born. Even if they are born (of course they are), they must train assiduously to reach their full potential.
        • Aug 24 2012: Agreed. All the talk about forgiveness is good, but how 'bout actual practice? like an athlete? I speak to kids about my own forgiveness story and then pass out 3x5 index cards & pencils, they write down what they would like to be forgiven or something they forgive someone else. Then the kids put the cards thru a paper shredder. Done. Forgiveness given and/or received. A visual, an exercise, an example for a mental exercise of the heart...
      • thumb
        Aug 21 2012: Dang it Debra, I have reached my max of thumbs up for you this week!!! =(

        That was very inspiring Debra. Thank you. I continue to help those who collaborates with the world, not the ones who snip at its edges. I feel I have seen to much crap flung around in my life to allow it to happen to others around me, but I will still continue to dig at unclear information. Just a habit, not a malicious trait of mine. =)

        Glad to spread the love and love is possibly what the world needs now most of all in this era.

        Hope to read more comments from you again! =)
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: Hello again Derek:>)
    Yes, I believe forgiveness can be exercised by everyone. I do not believe the idea of forgive and forget is good, and I also do not see the practice of stepping into a confessional and being absolved from accountability/responsibility as a good idea.

    Actually, I believe the idea of confessional is a terrible idea. The concept that a person can tell his/her "sins" to another person, who absolves them completely sets the stage for LACK of accountability/responsibility for one's actions.

    When we advocate forgive and forget, we are telling the offender of the "sin" that everything is forgotten, when, in fact, it is not always, nor should it be forgotten by the victim. We need to be accountable and take responsibility for our actions, otherwise we will never learn to change unacceptable behaviors. When everyone says ok....done.....forgive and forget, where is the opportunity to learn something different?

    As a six year old child preparing for first communion, I had to go to confession. Well...what sins does a 6yr old have? None in my perception. I asked a nun about this challenge, and she told me to make something up, so the priest would have something to forgive!!! Any wonder why I left the catholic church??? I have a brain, a thinking and feeling process, and this practice does not make any sense to me....didn't make any sense even as a little child.

    Another point, is that in order to forgive someone, we had to blame someone for something. So when we talk about forgiving people for what they said, or simple poor behaviors, we are often blaming them for something that we simply do not agree with. In that case, it might be benificial to forgive ourselves for blaming...what do you think?

    As James insightfully says...."it's really hard to keep hating forever", and I'll add... that to "hate" simply hurts ourselves. I think/feel it is important to remember what we learn without hate.
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: Colleen

      There is a huge difference between a confession and the therapeutic effects of this and someone suggesting you did something you did not do. That is insane and has very detrimental effects.

      I do agree with your statement to the effect of I don't have to worry about it as I have been forgiven. I used to have a guy work for me who was a born again. Every Saturday night he would go to the "massage parlor" and then Sunday he would go to church to be "forgiven". I don't see how this was therapeutic in any way?
      • thumb
        Aug 12 2012: I agree Pat that someone suggesting I confess something that I did not do was basically advising me (the little 6yr.old) to lie! I realized that even as a little kid! It could have been detrimental, and probably is to a lot of kids...unfortunately!

        I think confessing may be therapeutic when we accept responsibility and accountability, and if possible, repair the damage we have done....make amends...whatever.

        My father did something similar to the guy you mention. He went to confession, sat in the front row of church, received communion every Sunday, then went home and beat his wife and kids. Same routine for many years.

        Gotta tell you a funny story...
        For first communion, we had to learn the Act of Contrition prayer.
        It starts out...Oh my god I am heartily sorry for having offended you....bla....bla....bal.....
        I learned it.....Oh my god I am hardly sorry for having offended you......

        I knew I was NOT a sinner at 6 years of age!!! I might have caught up later!!! LOL.....Just kidding:>)
  • thumb
    Aug 19 2012: The motto of "Forgive and Forget" is much easier said than done, but if exercised, it can bring you a lot of peace. When someone has hurt you mentally or physically, you can choose to hurt them back or forgive them. Hurting them back will only bring you satisfaction that will last for a short duration, but forgiving them will give you a mental satisfaction and peace in the long run. Not all situations can be forgiven, but one thing is for sure.. the 'tit for tat' behavior just causes more damage to you.
  • Aug 12 2012: "forgive & forget", that seems to be a good motto for life. but shouldn't be done at all the scenario. if you do so then people take you for granted & its this people that get hurt a lot. some things should be forgiven, but certain things are never to be forgotten
  • Aug 24 2012: The powerful healing that may begin as a result of forgiving oneself shouldn't be overlooked...it's not always the other "perpetrator" but the one within that's more in need...forgiveness has been the topic of my talks this year. I forgave my son's killer and the power of my story touches lives and helps others take a good look at what they're carrying around in their "Un-forgiveness" file that perhaps they could (or should) let go...
    • thumb
      Aug 24 2012: Thank you for sharing that with us Laura. I am sorry to know that fact, but it seems as though you have first hand experience in forgiveness. It must have been difficult, but I definitely comprehend how certain circumstances the "self" needs to be forgiven first. Like if something bad happened to someone I had just talked to on the phone, then I would feel guilty for hanging up early or not being any help to the person or guilty I couldn't switch places with that person. Powerful stuff, thank you again. =)
      • Aug 24 2012: you're welcome Derek, it's an awesome topic and should be discussed, thank you for starting such a great thread...appreciate it!
  • thumb
    Aug 13 2012: I do not like forgive and forget. What I like to employ is that we all make errors .... what did you learn from it ... how did you grow from this experience. To forgive and forget reminds me that it will probally happen over and over. If we do not learn from history (even personal) we are doomed to repeat it.

    I recall "Hanoi Jane" Fonda and all of her actions against the US war effort. To protest is acceptable, even to those of us who served. However, to aid and abet a declared enemy of your country is treason. She went way over the line and I will not either forgive or forget. She has been declared one of the top ten traitors in history.

    I mention this to put a perspective on the event itself. Cheating on your diet does not compare to betrayal of your country.

    All the best. Bob.
    • thumb
      Aug 13 2012: Well, I also noted that it is those inbetween situations that are small and huge, but don't include those small and huge errors for the middle errors.
  • Aug 13 2012: Derek, likely yes if there is desire. I like to think of forgiveness as discovery by us mortals as a safety valve. We didn't invent the valve, but we need to open the valve and release pressure!!! It is a tool we must all use to improve relations.

    It is difficult to forgive a tyrant, a rapist, thief, or other perpetrator of behavior misuse. No one should withhold mercy from a person who cannot forgive, but it should be clear we need to understand a person who has been severely wronged.

    On the other hand a person doing harm must also understand the relationship issues of his behavior. Here again, mercy is needed, but correction is proper. No one can escape justice in the long run and it is wise to attempt a corrective action for turning a wrongdoer to asking for forgiveness.

    Forgiveness is vital! Slavery is not new; it is as old as the mountains, but mankind can learn better arrangements. Forgiving people of past wrongs releases stress and opens the gate for better relations.

    Can we all forgive? Desire varies. It is necessary for world peace! Consider ample evidence for lack of peace where there is no forgiveness!
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: Would support what the others are saying. The personal 'cost' of holding onto anger and pain is far greater than finding some way to vent it. Do not forgive or forget because someone did deliberately set out to hurt you or someone you love but do not lash out in anger because it escalates the issue. Vent the anger in a positive way, use it drive forward a useful postivie ambition not to destroy. Depression is said to be anger turned inwards. Too much anger literally causes hormonal and chemical changes in the body and can lead to substance dependency (which is just an alttempt to self medicate) and psychoses, which is where the psyche or mind literally disengages with the everyday world in order to protect itself. Don't let the actons of others lead to a living hell for you. Do not end up in a prison cell or a psychiatric institution. Revenge is a dish best served cold. And as someone else said the best revenge is to do well in life and have faith and hope and be charitable. Anger is a great motivator but also a great destroyer. Be very careful what you do with your anger, if you destroy with it ultimately it will destroy you. Namaste.
    • thumb
      Aug 13 2012: Mighty powerful comment elizabeth, thank you!
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: I love the expession that holding on to a grudge is like drinking poison and thinking the other person will be adversely affected. We know it cannot work that way. It drains you of energy for the good stuff when you carry the bad around in a sack over your shoulder. If you can possibly find a way -just jetison it and get on with your current business.
    As they say, living well is the best revenge!
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: Speaking of positive ways of revenge. I heard of a funny way for revenge from my mother's friend. She said that the best way for revenge is to turn that anger into energy and work harder at my job, and in turn, when I'm richer than before, all my revenge has been made. =P

      ps: I've reached my maximum thumbs up for you this week, but I'm sending you a comment version "thumbs up". =)
      • thumb
        Aug 12 2012: lol I usually try to attack them where it hurts the most... out of fun of course :P

        Just a fair warning, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt...
        • thumb
          Aug 13 2012: *cricket*cricket*cricket* Should I be backing away slowly from my monitor now James? jk. hehe.
      • thumb
        Aug 13 2012: you're good... for now... >;P
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: I think the idea of forgiveness is ok from the standpoint of being able to get the person out of your head. But from a practical point of view is hard to do. Are the victims of the whack job in Colorado really going to forgive him?

    I have not mastered this one myself. What helps me is to seek revenge. (just kidding)

    What helps me is to look at things as they are, this requires looking at things square in the eyes, not typically easy.
    This is the opposite of stewing on things.

    Look at what I did to create the situation or things that I have done that are similar to what has been done to me.
    If perdition exists it made of these transgressions. It is cathartic to state these to a priest or a real friend. If what you did caused damage make up for the damage done. By the way this is a huge problem with prisons in that they never allow the prisoner to make up for the damage done, the prisons just say you are a liability to society and you can never change. This is pure crap especially when you consider 80% are there because of drugs. Which illustrates that the real problems are what we do to ourselves, we are often our own worst enemy.

    Find something about that person to like. (not easy)

    Associate with people who bring you up, this is hugely important. Of course you have to deal with people who are going to attack you if you live in the real world. You have to acknowledge these people but that doesn't mean you have to let your guard down and be completely open with them. Lawyers for instance love to hear as much information as they can. With these people keep your own council (It means to keep your opinion, your decision, your judgment to yourself, and not share it) this will save you a LOT of trouble.

    I guess the main thing is be true to yourself and be honest and you will greatly reduce the need to forgive and you will create your future with people who are also honest. The best tool for this is communication as it the key, if you haven't watched Matt Ridley...
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: I think one way to go about forgiveness is trying to replace the feeling of hate, with the feeling of sympathy/pity.

      I think it goes along with the idea of empathy and understanding of others.
      • thumb
        Aug 13 2012: How has that worked out for you?
        • thumb
          Aug 13 2012: Well, for one, I don't necessarily hate the Dark Knight Rises shooter, but I feel more pity instead. However, I realize it's probably easier for me to say such things because nothing detrimental has really happened to me or my family so far.
      • thumb
        Aug 13 2012: My thinking is that I try (not always successful especially regarding politics that is super fing hard) to treat people how I would want to be treated.Rather than using sympathy or pity I would consider using the golden rule and move on.
        • thumb
          Aug 13 2012: Unfortunately, how someone else would want to be treated is different from the way you personally would want to be treated, and that's where the conflicts/disagreements/misunderstandings with one another occurs.
      • thumb
        Aug 14 2012: Can you give me an example of that?
        • thumb
          Aug 14 2012: In a less extreme cultural example, take the two different cultures of Chinese and Japanese. In China, when you eat noodles, you want to eat quietly, that's a sign of respect. However, in Japan, when you eat noodles, you want to eat loudly and slurp all over the place, because that's their sign of respect. So you take a Japanese person to go to China, people will think the guy is totally obnoxious and rude. When you take a Chinese person to Japan, people will think the guy is just totally being disrespectful, he doesn't like the noodles at all.

          Like the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans."

          On more extreme misunderstandings, it could be more political like clash of Fascism, Communism, Democracy, etc.
      • thumb
        Aug 14 2012: Good point.
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: Anyone should try to forgive, but forgetting may not be possible and can stand in the way of learning.

    I don't know anything about the confessional or the context of that practice within broader teachings about righting wrongs, but I know there are other faiths that require that people ask for forgiveness and make amends to the person or persons one harmed. This seems a practical and sensible course.

    One cannot always repair the damage one does. There is a parable that spreading malicious gossip, for example, is like releasing the contents of a feather pillow into the wind. One cannot later collect all the feathers. With modern communications, the feathers metaphor does not go far enough.
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: Fritzie,
      You are LUCKY you don't know anything about the confessional!!! LOL

      My experience was that there were no teachings connected with it that provided or encouraged "amends" to the person(s) who were harmed. That is why I stated in my comment that there was no accountability/responsibility....at least in what I learned and experienced with confession in the catholic tradition.

      We stated our "sin", then were given the task of saying 10 "hail marys", or 5 "our fathers". (These are prayers for those who are not familier), and that was it!

      I agree that to make amends, take responsibility, be accountable for our behaviors, and learn something (like how not to repeat the offense) makes a lot of sense!
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: Usually the damage cannot be undone. You can't take back what you already did in the past, but you can try to set things "right" in the future. As for forgiveness, it seems that it can be just as hard as the "sinner" trying to take responsibility.
  • Aug 14 2012: There has been alot of talk about the power of forgiveness and how until you forgive, you give the person power over your life. I think that it is nice in theory to forgive others for things they have done wrong.
    The reality is that some bad deeds are too horrible to forgive. I shouldn't feel that I haven't moved on because I can't forgive the bad deeds of someone against me. Can you forgive a gunman that murders innocent people? A government that commits genocide against a race of people? I can't forgive evreything bad that has happened to me in life and I don't feel like I should have to.
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: I will speak as a christian. The bible makes it clear that we have to forgive. In Jesus' model prayer he says 'forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us'

    So humans have to sow forgiveness to reap forgiveness from God.
    There is no sin that the blood of Jesus will not clean; so God will forgive anyone who truly repents; true repentance is the confession of sin, acceptance of God's punishment as justice, and willingness to forsake the sin.

    God forgives, but forgiveness does not mean God will spare the sinner the consequences of the sin. (that is why the bible commands us to abide by the laws of the government)This is where most people get the christian doctrine wrong.
    There is a difference between someone who is punished and accepts the punishment with a tender heart(that is, one who knows that his or her action is wrong and deserving of punishment); and someone who is punished for a wrongdoing but wonders why he or she is being punished. For the repentant heart, punishment helps like a furnace removes impurities from gold; however, punishment hardens the unrepentant heart.
    God will forgive a heart that accepts his or her fault, and the authority of God, and is willing to change.

    Forgiveness is not easy; just like every good thing. The path of greatness is not easy to walk, that is why only a few are found in it.
    For all who are ready for the hardwork and are willing to recieve grace, forgiveness is possible.

    If Nelson Mandela had not forgiven the then racist South African government for the 27 years behind bars, he would not be the respected stateman he is today.
    He'll probably be a petty, angry, and foolish dictator trying to make his enemies miserable and becoming more miserable in the process.
    • thumb
      Aug 20 2012: I think of forgiveness as the MASTERS class in humanity.
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: Yes, I think forgiving can be done by anyone, but only if one had obscene amounts of time/lifespan.

    It's really hard to keep hating forever.

    However, to forget is what I disagree on. I know we can't remember every little thing in our lives, but to forget is basically like denying the existence of something that happened. And denying someone/something's existence is regarding them as even lower than an insect or bacteria or even a single subatomic particle. It's one thing to get picked on by bullies, but at least they acknowledge your existence. Getting ignored and neglected by everyone or by parents is 1000x worse than bullying.

    I think it's in all humans' nature to be remembered somehow by someone or something. People want proof that they existed...
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: James,
      I agree with you that to forget is like denying the existence of something that happened. I also agree that being ignored is not a good idea either. I'm a little bit confused by your statement.

      You want to remember because "denying someone/something's existence is regarding them as even lower than an insect or bacteria....bullies....acknowledge your existence". Are you advocating remembering because you don't want the offender to be ignored? I'm not getting your drift.....help!!!
      • thumb
        Aug 12 2012: It's a tricky, and pretty controversial thing that is pretty questionable to even me, but I think we shouldn't ignore truth and what was reality. And forgetting someone even existed is denying life itself. So it is important imo, to remember the offender. What if we lived in a society where everyone forgot about 9/11 or American Civil War, or World War II?
        • thumb
          Aug 12 2012: JZ,
          I agree with you about remembering, accepting truth and reality as I stated in another comment. Your reason for remembering was elusive to me. It sounded like you were saying we should remember so the offenders would not feel ignored.....which is not a bad idea. For me, remembering is about learning, so it could involve ALL angles of remembering:>)
          Thanks for making your idea more clear to me:>)
  • thumb
    Aug 12 2012: Does that RELIGION , that calls for love to everyone including enemies has the HELL CONCEPT in it ?
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: It most certainly does Salim.
    • thumb
      Aug 12 2012: Well, actually I got something to say about the Hell concept.

      How can one be so easily forgiven and a hell concept still so fervidly exist. Seems a bit ridiculous how there can be so many people in hell because they didn't do something so simple as go to "confessionals".....I'm just being critical, but it seems ridiculous. I don't get it. =/
      • thumb
        Aug 12 2012: It's just one more of religions contradictions dear Derek! Many who accept the dogma of religions simply accept on faith, and are not supposed to ask questions or make any sense of it!

        I believe hell is an idea conceived my leaders of the church to frighten and control the commoners. Amazing that it is still being accepted and feared, even though we have evolved to be more intelligent than we were in ancient times.....or are we?
        • thumb
          Aug 12 2012: I have made a joke that, one point in my life I will do every single version of "confessions" in every religion just to be safe. Gosh, I'll probably even have to tell them that I one time got more than one piece of candy from a bowl of candy that wrote "take one". =P
      • thumb
        Aug 12 2012: Yes Derek....that is a good idea to do every single version of "confessions". You might just keep yourself from the eternal fires of hell!

        Well, now that you have confessed the "candy theft", you might be safe for awhile. Just keep your hands out of the candy jar!!! OR, only take ONE as it says:>)