TED Conversations

Debra Smith


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Learning to forgive is 'the PhD" of being human. True or False? It represents the highest level of human development or does it?


We are at beyond the half time mark so I would like to add another question:
What are the elements of a good apology?
What are the elements of a lousy apology?

Forgiveness is a very difficult thing to give.

It is necessary to forgive?

Is it right to forgive?

Who deserves forgiveness?

Who doesn't deserve forgiveness?

Does a person have to ask for forgiveness to deserve it?

Can you accept being forgiven when you have hurt someone?

What does forgiving do for the person who forgives?

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    Jun 9 2011: Forgiveness comes from a concept that someone else has done or said something that is "wrong", that has in some way gone against you, or has hurt you or has denied you "a right". It implies that because of this thing that has been done to you, you have in one way or another suffered or been disenfranchised, or denied something that you deserve. It also implies that something then has been taken away from you, and in most cases this causes you unhappiness.I tend to believe that everything that happens has a purpose, and that I too have contributed something, even if minor, to any event that happens to me, and therefore share some responsibility for the outcome, or the reality that I find myself in. So, I ask myself, what is there than needs my forgiveness? Nothing, unless, of course, I am caught up in the ego that tells me I have been denied my right to something, or I had allowed others to be responsible for my happiness, or, I have forgotten that every situation I am in is one that I have, at some level, co-created for my best possible learning about who I AM, and what I came here to do.If any of the above is true, then, yes indeed, forgiveness is a mighty gift to have and to share.
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      Jun 9 2011: Well said Ronald, and I absolutely agree with your comment. To forgive someone, we would have had to blame him/her for something. I also agree that everything happens for a purpose, and is an opportunity for all individuals to learn and grow in ourselves. Helen insightfully states: "When you understand it all, there may be nothing to forgive". Many times, we have expectations of others they are unwilling or unable to meet. We feel hurt because he/she is not acting or reacting the way we expect. When we hold onto that hurt, we give up our choice, and try to give responsibility for what we feel to the other person. We co-create ANY situation we are involved in. Perhaps the important thing is to forgive ourselves for blaming others. When we take responsibility for our own feelings, the heart has a chance to heal.
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      Jun 9 2011: Ronald, I am so happy to have a different world view represented here.

      Often, when cultures or world views intersect the very fundamental assumptions result in misunderstanding.
      It must be a major skill set to navigate such waters respectfully and productively.

      Who among us understands all? Certainly not me and I don't think I can honestly say that I have met many who would claim to.

      If we live in a world where one group believes differently and thinks and feels deeply about forgiveness, is it enough to simply say "I don't believe in it. Your world view is bunk. You are simply not nearly as enlightened as I am and if you were - you would not be hurt or offended by any of my actions?'

      Yes, we may co-create but does that negate our responsibility to co-fix, co-communicate, or co-build bridges of understanding.

      All I seem to hear from those who consider themselves enlightened is that if I were only as advanced as they were none of the problems would exist. My sincere and heart felt question is: Where is the humilty and love in that?
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        Jun 10 2011: Debra,

        @the enlightened etc.

        through many of of our conversations in recent months on fear, ego, radical empathy ( any others???)you have said this..and also most others,if not in so many words in a general resistance or inability to access the ideas offered out of which you have created this construct..ths paradigm about the enlightened vs the non enlightened.

        This is all about basic human stuff..All humans have the capacity to manage their stuff perfectly well all by themselves through their intentions, their will, their determination. I believe that is possible without faith and without a spiritual practrice..just by the sheer alinement of heart, will, and mind..probably exactly what you called on beyond medicine to become, as I am, a cancer "survivor", what you did to raise your children, to do well in your job.to earn your degrees.alll things in which heart, mind and will were alined..working together.

        It doesn't require faith, it doesn't require spiritual prcatice and it doesn't require years and years in psychotherapy. it just requires a commitmnet to your own wellness..to your own fulfillment, to your own actualization.It does require a practice though..it does require dailiy habits. It's something anyone can do for themselves but it is work and it does require vigilance.

        I must say, few support me in this view. You are quite right in observing that those of faith and those in spirirtual practice seem to think they have some kind of high ground and that it isn't possible to tackle these fundamental conditions of all humanity without faith and without spiritual practice. There are many many many roads to the same place..no one owns the one and only path..evryone can find their own path and we'll all get to the exact same place.

        Each path ,each practice,almost unavoidably has its own language..its own approach..its just amatter of finding or building a practice that works for you.
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          Jun 10 2011: Lindsay,

          I encourage you to open a conversation about the meaning of "enlightenment"
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      Jun 10 2011: Ronald I welcome your voice and your wisdom..

      co-creation..an important awareness.
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      Jun 10 2011: Incredible insight Ronald. Feel like you just triggered an epiphany.

      How'd you get to be so wise anyway?
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      Jun 10 2011: Interesting, happiness seems to be an underlining value of many conversations started on TED.

      All questions seem to end in humanism when the wisest of TEDsters put their connecting abilities to perfect harmony.

      Brilliant Ronald.


      I consider you to be wise, the question can easily be asked of you in my opinion.
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      Jun 10 2011: Debra, Ronald & Tim Ronald receive our aknowledgement. Your point is very deep and mercyfull. We all are delighted with your clear heart and wisdom.

      This is what happens at the end of "The Merchant of Venice" . Shylock is forgived.

      Auguri da tutti noi,specially from Father Delacourt.
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        Jun 10 2011: Yes, Conte, Shylock is forgiven when he gives up what is his.
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    Jun 10 2011: @ Collen, you put it very well- When all is understood, judgment ends- and I guess if we can cease to judge, well, then, what will there be to forgive?

    @ Debra, thanks for the warm welcome. I hope to continue sharing my thoughts as plainly as I possibly can, but please remember, they're just mine. My opinions may not be very representative of my peers.. that said, may I also say that my experience of the 'enlightened ones', and mind you, I have met children who to me fit that expression, is this: Its not that problems wont exist if we all got 'enlightened', is just that problems wont bother us as much as they presently do. Perhaps a bit simplistic...but then adults do tend to make things very, very complicated.
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      Jun 10 2011: Ronald,

      That is beautifully put Ronald.

      "if we can cease to judge, what will there be to forgive"

      So wonderful to have your voice here at Ted Conversations.

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      Jun 10 2011: Thanks Ronald:>)
      Forgiveness comes from the concept that someone has done something "wrong", and our perception of the situation is that we are "right". That is a judgement, which comes from the ego. You mentioned in your previous comment, that we "get caught up in the ego" and allow "others to be responsible for my happiness".
      When we "cease to judge", we free ourselves to create our own happiness without depending on, or expecting someone else to create it for us.

      To be aware, and understand some of the underlying feelings is sometimes not easy, and will not solve all challenges in our lives, but as you insightfullly point out, "problems won't bother us as much as they presently do".
    • Jun 10 2011: "When all is understood, judgment ends" - Did you say this Colleen? A most profound statement when taken to its greatest extent. Kudos :-)
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      Jun 10 2011: Sorry to be the persistent reality check but, respectfully, are we not all living with partial knowledge?

      Who is honestly claiming to 'understand it all"?

      And let's move to a practical and compassionate place: for those of you who do claim to understand it all- why do you still show up at a question like this (let's call it remedial class for the unenlightened)?

      Is it honestly to declare your superiority or do you have some compassionate agenda?
      • Jun 10 2011: HI Debra, My bad. It was Helen who said
        " My life coach tells me this...."When you understand it all there may be nothing to forgive".
        I think it might be true if we can ever get to that point, hence my comment about its meaning if taken to the fullest extent. But as you say and I have stated in my posts, it is not simple to get there. Sorry that I did not explain that properly.

        Sincere apologies Colleen.
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          Jun 10 2011: Hi Julie Ann,

          My quibble is not with the quote. Helen's therapist is one of those people in the trenches holding out light to redeem lives and I admire her work and most especially the evidence that it helped Helen to have a better life.

          My quibble is that too many are ignoring what the hopeful quote says;

          "WHEN you understand it ALL there MAY be nothing to forgive"

          Given all the spirtual traditions represented here- and given Helen's stated age- it may mean in heaven we will understand it all because that is an explicit teaching of the faith.

          I just want people to have 'more life in their lives' here an now and forgiving to the extent that one is able frees up a lot of cognitive space and room in the heart for love.
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          Jun 10 2011: No problem Julie Ann:>)
          Did you see my comment regarding this? (It is below at this point in the thread)
          It was an evolution of an idea which started with Helen's life coach!

          I don't honestly think we understand everything as long as we're on this earth school, and as Debra insightfully states: "...forgiving to the extent one is able frees up a lot of cognitive space and room in the heart for love".
      • Jun 11 2011: Hi Debra, I must commend you on the way you manage to moderate the topic, with so many varied opinions and even working through the maze of posts to find the ones that require a response!
        I think one of the reasons your topic is so engaging is that it applies to a broad range of situations from harmless sibling rivalry to brutal crimes, and also a range of scales - from interpersonal discord to conflicts between ethnic groups or countries. I think the responses have covered the ranges quite well. I noted before that some things are easier to forgive than others and you have summed it up quite well - "forgiving to the extent that one is able to". Realistically, that's all we can ask. Cheers :-)
      • Jun 11 2011: Hi Colleen, I have to admit that I get lost trying to navigate through the maze of responses, as I mentioned to Debra just now. I did manage to find your post and Helen's as well. You are quite right - we have very limited understanding and are bound within those limits. I suppose we can only hold on to our beliefs of what is right and wrong and try to live within those as best we can. I do like Debra's expression of forgiving as best we can because each conflict scenario has a different effect and elicits a different response. The complexity of human existence! Cheers :-)
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          Jun 12 2011: Hi Julie Ann,.
          The comment threads do seem like a maze at times! LOL :>)

          I think that sometimes, our understanding is impacted by our willingness or unwillingness to open the heart and mind to information. We "can only hold on to our beliefs of what is right and wrong and try to live within those as best we can", OR we can explore different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and ideas to create less limitations. What do you think?

          I agree that there are different scenarios and different responses, and I feel that the more information I have, the better able I am to be fully engaged in any scenario to the best of my ability.
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          Jun 12 2011: Good Morning Colleen!

          As long as we are alive I agree that we should be open to new learning. My approach is to try to maintain width as well as gain depth because as soon as knowledge and understanding are fully engaged in only one direction it becomes more like a tunnel than an inverted pyramid open to every expanding depths of light.
          So finding the good in different spiritual practices or traditions without humouring the bad, following the studies of humaity and sciences and integrating them all with my own experience is what I try to do.

          More understanding, more compassion, more tenderness is my goal and I think it is your goal too.
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      Jun 10 2011: Ronald, Thanks for returning to share more of your views.

      I would like to understand what you are preaching.
      Let me ask you my heart felt questons.
      I am talking about real situations in real lives and I am hoping you can give me help in understanding your ways. Because our styles are so different I find one of the most frustrating things is that 'the enlightened' never respond to direct questions. Will you follow that pattern too?

      Is it only ego that damages the child who experiences a rape at the age of 5?

      For torture victims- is it your world view that they brought the experience upon themselves?

      For the father who just buried his son who just graduated from highschool because of a drive by shooting where do you tell him to put his grief?

      How far have you tested your world view in actual painful situations?
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        Jun 10 2011: I am looking forward to Ronald's reply as well..and I am intrigued..actually moved by your focus on the different languages spoken by those in faith and spiritual practice and those not

        when people of different views and backgrounds and cultures engage and especially when people from faith and spiritual practice engage here they engage from the language of their culture and the esoteric language of faith and practice is not really very acessible.

        I came to Ted thinking that an attempt to avoid practice and faith based language was the way to go. I Can't help speaking from that place..that is my life that is what supports and feeds and empowers all the very difficult advocacy work I do in the world so even when I don't use the language of my practice..the ideas of my practice are obvious in everything I say.

        I think what you are speaking to is that the language comes from a very different mindset and world view which is what I think might be coming across as not answering.

        I am not here to teach or enlighten or convert. I am here to witness..to speak for things that I believe are very important..the plight of people with cognitive disbailities, plutonomy etc. etc.

        Speaking only or myself our voices are as valid here as any and your growing frustration and intolerance of our voices is mystifying.

        .As for your assumption that those of us who have a spiritual practrice are all rich from inherited wealth and have lead charmed lives, unchallenged by harsh realities..that is a red speedo.

        On the wisdom path for atheists the first thing to let go of is judging others., characterizing them, classifying them, forming lenses that eirther "place them in china" or bombard them with confused torpedoes.

        I ask for tolerance and respect and would appreciate all Tedsters refraining from htis characterization Debra is marketing here at Ted. of people who speak from faith and spiritual practice.
      • Jun 10 2011: Dear Debra,

        You pose interesting questions, and I would like to share some of my views on them (not any faith based)

        First of all, I believe we are all connected and make up this plant called earth, so our actions or inactions affect each other whether we like it or not.

        the child who experiences rape at the age of 5 needs love, compassion, understanding, and learning to forgive, not for the sake of who wronged him/her, but for the sake of his/her own sanity. So that the 'rape' does not become a part of his/her identity. so that the anger does not build up and so that he/she does not grow up to be a person who shoots someone's son in a drive by shooting.

        I beleive learning to forgive is learning to accept. when something happens to us that we can not control or change, if we can accept it, forgiveness emerges out of the acceptance. however, it becomes difficult when ego comes in between and makes it all obout the other person who wronged. and the vicious cycle continues.....
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          Jun 10 2011: Davinder, Welcome and thanks for sharing your views.

          I am in full agreement with this. Learning to accept the events and what they mean and more often -what they do not mean about the self- is crucial.

          To pretend or suggest as I percieve that some here do that if the child was only 'egoless' enough it would be 'no big deal' is the opposite of establishing the environment for healing and exactly what facilitates the future acting out of those unresolved feelings and mentations.
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      Jun 10 2011: Hi Julie Ann,
      I did say that, and we are building on a concept that was presented by member Helen Hupe in a previous comment. A quote by Helen's life coach, which I find to be very profound: "When you understand it all there may be nothing to forgive". Ronald insightfully mentioned the ego, and how it may impact forgiveness...I expanded on that with the idea that our ego is often judgmental...trying to make one person or idea "right" and another person/idea "wrong"...and so the evolution of thoughts, feelings, ideas and perceptions grew:>)

      I don't honestly think we ever understand everything, but to take the journey which may help us understand some of the scenario is important to me when I am moving through challenges. I've also found that suspending judgement, allows me to understand more.
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        Jun 10 2011: Colleen, I do live in a world and with a world view that believes that certain things are wrong.

        It is wrong to rape a child.
        It is wrong to increase suffering in other lives.
        It is wrong to torture.
        It is wrong to burn women in tires.

        I cannot bridge our world view when you keep telling me -as though I were deaf- if I only did it your superior way all of these things would not matter.

        They matter to me - and to the people who experience them. I think they deserve help in freeing themselves from the events.
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          Jun 10 2011: Dear Debra,
          I am not telling you to do anything my way, nor do I believe the information I offer is "superior" in any way. Actually, I was simply reinforcing ideas that others had already offered.
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      Jun 10 2011: @Ronald


      "When all is understood, judgment ends- and I guess if we can cease to judge, well, then, what will there be to forgive?"

      How would you answer your own question Ronald? When considering judgments could be ended, do you mean universally everyone's judgments could be ended in all situations or do you only mean the individual practice of understanding?

      Can the whole world achieve these "enlightened" moments? An epiphany of great consideration? To eventually become "enlightened" or to simply become wise.

      I agree if all events had full understanding to all the individuals in the dispute, the factors/details to judge on said event would be easier to be determined. However, I do not feel judgments would end there. Judgments are forever given to the one's we know and love, let alone those who creates disputes with us.

      Example: For now on, my judgment of you will be you are a brilliant person, therefore I find deep meaning in your simplicity. How will this end? You cannot unconsciously make me change my judgment or opinion of you. Opinions and judgments change depending on evidence, claims, and facts.

      The judgment to see a man with bloody clothes with a scared face, no evidence, and a poor story (claims). To now be considered a suspect in a murder. If no evidence is illuminated and if his story does not match other stories, this man will surely see the inside of a prison cell, innocent or not. Until new evidence comes forward, his judgment is set on guilty. However this example is from society, where the general consensus of opinions should arise from.

      That is why I considered your quote to Lindsay universally applicable. But, not about the end of judging, but the mark of "enlightened" judgments, what do you think?

      Sorry, if it's tough to read my writing, and these are my opinions also Ronald.
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    Jun 8 2011: I preface:
    Forgiveness is not the end goal indicating high development, rather it is a single symptom of highly developed people. One who forgives MAY be at that level. One who is at that level DOES forgive.

    It is necessary for yourself that you forgive others, holding onto that which hurt you is a knee jerk reaction that is counter-intuitive.

    It is right to actually forgive, it is not right to just say it without meaning it.

    Everyone, we're all just trying to be the best we can.

    See above.

    No, imagine home much pressure that would put on the forgiver.

    I can only accept it when I've forgiven myself.

    It starts to heal the wound. If you haven't forgiven someone you're holding the knife in your own side. Only be forgiveness can you take the knife out and heal the wounds. Without forgiveness the wounds can heal around the knife but it doesn't take much for the blade to start cutting you again.

    Sorry if it seems a bit scatterbrained and new age-y (I haven't had my coffee yet)
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      Jun 8 2011: I admit to trying to make the title catchy in phrasing it as a PhD. (You caught me!)

      Someone said " Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die' (no idea who said that). I think its true.

      Another great point you made above is that to forgive without sincerity is no good at all because you do not get the benefit. Saying it without meaning it makes the burden worse because then you are boxed into 'acting' as though you do.

      Christopher, is there ever a circumstance in which it is wrong to forgive?
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        Jun 9 2011: To truly forgive? No there I can think of no circumstance in which it is wrong to forgive.

        Forgiveness is healing for the victim not the perpetrator.
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          Jun 9 2011: Christopher.....I disagree. It heals both.
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          Jun 9 2011: Hi Helen,

          Does there need to be some interaction between the victim and perpetrator for the forgiveness to heal both parties? In other words, can I forgive someone who is dead, or someone I will never see again or a stranger who harmed me?
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          Jun 9 2011: Debra.......So Sorry I did not make that clear. Of Course There has to be contact between victim and perp. I did forgive my family for all their abuse (they are all deceased now) but this did not happen until a therapist convinced me that I was indeed loveable and it took a lot of patience and faith on her part to convince me ,but she did. You cannot know what freedom is until you let go.
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          Jun 9 2011: The work that some therapists do in helping people overcome traumatic events is really laudable. I want to thank yours for convincing you of the truth- you are lovable, Helen and I can sense that from here!
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          Jun 10 2011: helen..not if the perpetrator is not a particpant in the forgiveness. The victim's decisiion not to be distorted by rage, anger.etc.etc. is a complete forgiveness that allows the victim to be heal and move on..that is a complete forgiveness even if no words are ever spoken to the perpetrator an dthe perpetrtaor has never apologized or asked for forgiveness.

          Forgiveness can be healing for both are involved and can even save and transform a relationship but a forgiveness that doesn't achieve that level is also complete and whole and allows the victim to be complete and whole.
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          Jun 10 2011: Lindsey...............I agree that there must be contact between the two. I did not explain myself very well or maybe not at all...If I ask for pardon and my victim refuses to pardon then all is not lost. I have redeemed myself by admitting my shortcoming and now the "ball" is in their lap. I cannot make someone forgive and as long as they hold on to it tthey have to carry the burden. I think the most arrogant thing one can do is to tell someone that you forgive them. That goes nowhere Cheers
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          Jun 10 2011: Helen..yes we are on the same page..and thanks for sharing some of your own experience in forgiveness. A great gift to others always when people speak from experience ( and never very helpful when people speak boyt experience)

          Like your picture

          Between this talk, fear, ego,radical empathy,freedom ( who would think freedom is controversial) we have the makings of a very interesting book, I think. Glad to have you here. Always interesting to visit these issues, which are more complicated that they seem at first glance, with mnay of the same voicest we have gone over other terrain with.
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          Jun 10 2011: Helen, How great is this input!

          You are helping us by switching roles from the person who was injured to the person to needs to ask forgiveness. It is a side we have not explored much to this point. -The art of the apology.

          I bet you have seen many people in your day cough out "I forgive you!" at an inappropriate time or at a stage of a conversation which did not seem to warrant it.

          When I have seen it - I considered it a call to attend to the person's hurt - meaning that they probably were not forgiving the person at all but saying 'You hurt me and I want you to know it- and i"ll pretend to be the bigger person.

          Is that how you see it, Helen?
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          Jun 10 2011: @Debra...................Again I did not make myself clear. Yes, what you are saying i is true probably for most cases.............I was astonished when Pope John Paul went to the prison where his assailant (I think his name was Agca) was being held for the purpose of telling him that He (the Pope) had forgiven.him. Now I don't know what the rest of the conversation might have been but as far as I can see Pope John Paul was an humble man. Of course the media grabs on to anything and sensationalizes it even if it partially knows the facts. But then I wondered if Agca thought he needed forgiveness. If he was convinced that he was right as are suicide bombers, then maybe th gesture was useless and arrogant. Maybe the effect was positive, who knows. I don't know the end of the story.If someone with radical empathy went to Osama it would be useless to say to Osama "I forgive you". There are reasons albeit not reasonable that people like him do these terrible things that in their minds justify such actions. There is a whole world to be explored in this area but not all people think that far. Your friend Helen
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          Jun 10 2011: @ Lindsay...............Freedom is controversial ........You have freedom from and freedom to. There is a boundary that applies to both that people don't seem to take into consideration. THE GOLDEN RULE hh
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          Jun 10 2011: Helen, You express your points very clearly.

          I just want to learn more when I ask a follow up question- I'm greedy to know more of what you have learned in your lifetime.
          Sometimes there are pie in the sky explanations but I love to learn from the people with the battle scars who are still standing and still caring. At 80 - that's you!
          Thank you for being my friend. I take that as a real kindness.
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        Jun 9 2011: more quotable tan jonatan's version wi th laxative:>)))
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      Jun 9 2011: Christopher!!! A thousand white roses and a thumbs up..nice to see you..completely on the same page and saying the same thing
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        Jun 11 2011: Debra............You are really nice !!
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    Jun 15 2011: Before this conversation ends,I would just like to say thank you to my friend,Debra.I've learned a lot from the comments regarding this topic.What a debate Debra! and its all because of you!!!! thanks!!!!You make me proud Debra by just being your friend!!!! Hug!!!!!!!
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    Jun 15 2011: Great topic!

    I don't think there are elements that every apology should have but I remember having read a research somewhere (I don't remember the source, sorry) which concluded that an apology has more effect when you don't say it immediately. I realise and feel that too. When somebody apologies the day (or more) after the unfortunate event I'm more likely to say "it's okay" and mean it because I had time to think it through and place it. When I've done wrong and realise it I always say sorry right away but the next time I see that person I'll say it again "I'm sorry about last time, I didn't mean to". That approach to apologising is very powerful in my opinion.

    It is necessary to forgive? Yes! To forgive is to let go which alows you to move forward. By letting go I don't mean to forget about it, some things can't be erased from your mind. By forgiving you give those events a place in your mind and when you're somehow remembered of that event you won't feel anxious anymore and put all your energy in "why did that happen to me" and so on. You might think about it for a moment but since you've made peace with it by forgiving (yourself and or the other(s)) you won't suffer (that much) from it.

    Is it right to forgive? I can't see why it would be wrong. Forgiving is a powerful act and can only be respected. People who don't want to forgive will carry a grudge for their whole life, that's a lot of wasted energy you could have used to laugh.

    Who deserves forgiveness? That's a hard one. The bible says everyone deserves it but in my view some really shouldn't be forgiven. On the other hand you forgive in the first place for yourself. It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to put your energy in hating somebody for the rest of your life. I think it's not worth it.

    By forgiving somebody you make clear to that person that he or her has done you wrong, even though they don't realise it. You can accept being forgiven but you need to forgive yourself too.
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    Jun 12 2011: I would like to clarify a little when I say to forgive is not necessary. Forgiving someone I do not see as necessary as long as you don't focus on the occasion or person with negative thoughts in mind. I suppose though that moving past those negative emotions is what some would call forgiveness?
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      Jun 12 2011: Hang in with me ED! I am responding at the same time you are to a previous post so it appears that I am not answering or assimulating your thoughts. I am just one or two posts behind. I think this is very valuable. I am gong to pause for 15 minute so that I see your most current posting without overlapping.


      Ok, I think I have seen all your excellent postings. I hope that the way that they are out of step in responses does not hinder communication.

      The mind cannot forgive only "you' can. This suggests to me that the hope comes from bringing our whole self to bear on the issue to make the choices. I agree- but I think there are a lot of people bringing every bit of clarity, mind body and soul that they have to their issues and they are still stumbling in the darkness of the first night after their houses have collapsed. They need some help and some 'things' to get there. Things like water, like light like hope, like directions. They might very well find it on their own but.............they are not pretending to be where they are and pretending will not get them further.

      "It seems that most people need to experience a great deal of suffering before they will relinquish resistance and accept - before they will forgive. As soon as they do, one of the greatest miracles happens: the awakening of Being-consciousness through what appears as evil, the transmutation of suffering into inner peace. The ultimate effect of all the evil and suffering in the world is that it will force humans into realizing who they are beyond name and form."

      Maybe your sentences here are true but what harm is there in handing them tools to cope and tools iwth which to build as they suffer in hopes of reducing the culmuative suffering and speeding up their process?

      Forgiveness is one such tool. Diminishing it, saying it is old fashioned or not the most modern tool adds nothing to the mix. Then, when the person is stronger s/he will find even better ways as soon as s/he can or are able
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    Jun 11 2011: I believe there are two levels of forgiveness - Letting go and Reconciliation.

    Letting go involves allowing ourselves to experience painful emotions without resistance and without dwelling on judgments about fault or blame. Resisting painful emotion creates tension which draws our mind to the transgression and stimulates more painful emotion. Letting go involves choosing not to take mental paths that involve blame, judgment or revenge. Most times we have to let go more than once and often many times over a period of weeks or months. Ultimately letting go frees us from mental and emotional aftereffects of our hurt and allows us to get on with our lives.

    Reconciliation is the deeper level of forgiveness. It requires not only that we let go but also developing compassion and understanding. There are many situations where reconciliation is not appropriate or worth the effort. However, reconciliation is necessary for healthy long-term relationships. Once broken, trust needs to be rebuilt over the long term with verifiable evidence that it is deserved. Reconciliation requires openness of all people involved. I cannot reconcile with someone who thinks they did nothing wrong or is plotting how they might cheat me again.

    The importance of letting go, reconciliation, and therefore forgiveness is easily discerned by looking at what happens when we don’t do it. Not letting go leads to anger, frustration, tension, stress, and often anxiety and/or depression. In addition to these, choosing not to reconcile with someone in a long-term relationship feeds miscommunication and mistrust, undermines cooperation and interferes with problem solving and peaceful co-existence.
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      Jun 11 2011: Bob, Thank You.

      I am always grateful that you care the way you do and that you share such practical tips and approaches with such a gentle style.

      You do much good here at TED.
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      Jun 11 2011: well said Bob and nice to see you here!!!
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        Jun 11 2011: Hi Wongmo..glad you resonate with Abbott Keating..he is the founder/center of my contemplative community

        .My all time favorite Keating is "Invitation to Love" Of all his works, "Invitation to Love" is written in the most "universal language" ..at least the first few chapters. In it he has a wonderful description of how we collect all this brokneness over the course of our lives..how we end up with an egoic " operating system..how we begin to disentangle that by recognizing how it is operating in every moment

        Here is a wonderful quote that we could cut and paste as well into our conversation on freedom:

        "When locked into our private worlds of narcissistic desires, we are not present to the needs of others when they seek help. The clarity wit which we see other people's needs and respond to them is in direct proportion to our interior freedom."

        .Abbott Keating is dying now ,confined to the monastary . His heir apparent is the head of my community, Cynthia Bourgeault, whose writings are even more in a universal language than Abbot Keatings. Of her works, "The Wisdom Way of Knowing" is most accessible and universal.

        It's a joy to me see these universally accessible works brought here to Ted and offered as a resource in conversations like this. (Thank you Ed.) They were written for people committed to and willing to take up a spiritual practice ,from a faith based Christian center, especially Abbott Keatings work, but they contain wisdoms that require neither faith nor spiritual practice. ( Just skip over the part s that don't click for you)

        I hope you enjoy it Wongmo..you would like Bougeault especially she is a genius who speaks simply. and with great wisdom.
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        Jun 11 2011: Womgmo it's Bourgeault..available through Amazon.
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        Jun 11 2011: Hope this falls in the right place wongmo..its BOURGEAULT here is the link to the Contemplative Society where here latest writing and essays appears..aslo a schedule of her lectures and wisdom scools


        She is dazzlingly brilliant and utterly simple. She writes with amazing clarity and at a very human level. You'll enjoy her, I'm sure.
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      Jun 11 2011: This is really great Ed. Really great. We are bridging a 'language' barrier and i appreciate the effort it costs.

      That is my own expression for what I see ' clenched self of fear and wounded-ness ' not a quote of some kind. It is what I see. So many people in a sort of charlie horse of pain and my heart wants them to stop hurting.

      I promise you that as much as I sense that I am frustrating people with my questions sometimes- I know what I am after is important- for many people.
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          Jun 11 2011: Well Ed, I'm glad you decided to pick cherries in this orchard.

          I know that we grew up in the same country but I sometimes find it hard to understand your writing style and I want to access what you are saying more deeply. If you knew me, you would know that there are few things that I dislike more than debating tactics. I don't know why I phrased this as a debate when I could have put it as a question but I guess I wanted people to be free to bring entirely different views to the table for our feast.

          I think it has been a feast. Context is a very important element. I am deeply grateful for the generousity people have shown in opening up and comparing notes. I am also glad to be able to say - welcome to your world view, or I'm glad you're here, or that is a great new point or I do not understand. I am even more grateful to have the honour of reading the words of the many sincere people who have contributed here.
  • Jun 11 2011: My opinion is that in order to be able to forgive, one must learn to accept forgiveness, and one should start by forgiving itself. Learn to forgive yourself first, and then you will understand what could feel someone who receives forgiveness.If your forgiveness helps or not that person it is not up to you, it is up to that person if he or she can accept this forgiveness. And it will not be able to accept it if it hasn’t forgave itself first. So it all start again, the main idea is to learn to accept forgiveness that you should give to yourself first and then to others. And how do we accomplish the stage of forgiveness? I say only through love… To love yourself it means that you have accepted yourself, through love you can forgive yourself, through love you will forgive others…. To answer your question, in my opinion learning to love is the PhD of being human.
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      Jun 11 2011: Cornelia, I am so pleased you joined us!

      Your answer focuses on how forgiveness fits in with our relationship to self and I think it is a very important consideration in this issue. As others have pointed out it is the self that is somehow injured and in the process of self repair.

      I like your point that love is the PhD of human existance!
      • Jun 14 2011: Dear Debra, so happy to be here with you in this great ted community. I feel everyone has so many interesting to say, and I am so thirsty to learn and find some answers myself. Thank you for challenging our mind with your wise questions. Regarding the process of self repair I would like to quote Ghandi that “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” I would add that perhaps nobody could hurt us more than ourselves. The negative side of our ego (“the little demon” like I call it) stands against forgiveness, If we could only understand ourselves better, if could only understand why we feel hurt, then forgiveness would come naturally. Love I see as being the ultimate ingredient to a happy balanced life, is the kindness, the acceptance, the knowledge, the understanding, the forgiveness and the courage to be yourself…and maybe much more. One could spend a life time trying to love itself, and I am too young to have answers to all questions…. But I know I am trying to understand, to learn and to love.
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          Jun 14 2011: a wonderful offering Cornelia and i especially like this which I and many others have been singing as the refrain thoughout this conversation

          “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”I would add that perhaps nobody could hurt us more that ourselves. The negative side of our ego (“the little demon” like I call it) stands against forgiveness:" Cornelia Coricovac

          a lovely medittaion on forgiveness with gifts and wisdom for all
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          Jun 14 2011: I wish I could bridge the gap between our ways of thinking Lindsay. I ask again, in another way, are you truly looking the hurting people in the eye and saying- 'you gave permission for this to happen to you.' ?If you are- please tell me how that helps them in this moment and in their pain? Doctors normally help people even people who did hurtful things to themselves, ensuring that their lives are stable again before lecturing them on what they 'should have done' and or why letting what happened to them was 'stupid'. When you keep saying things like the above I cannot understand what feels to me like cruelty. "Hey, I'm so enlightened nobody can hurt me' in the face of hurting people. You may have a nice, healthy happy way of dealing with this but I ask again if you are so perfectly convinced- why do you visit this question on something you do not believe in- over and over again saying the same thing over and over again?And with all due respect to Ghandi- I think there have been a lot of people murdered, raped and emotionally destroyed in thisworld who shouted "NO" every step of the way.
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          Jun 14 2011: Debra, While Ghandi has been short sighted in some of his sayings these one is one of the more accurate ones I've heard. This kind of ties in with my thinking that you do not need to forgive someone their transgressions but don't let it define you. Everybody experience things in life that could be scarring. If you don't let these things define who you are then they can't hurt you. While a rape victim is a tragic experience defining yourself as such is where the pain really comes. When people define themselves by the atrocities that they have lived through they have let those events hurt them and control them unnecessarily. I can see here a relation between self love and the amount of pain allowed by a situation.
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          Jun 14 2011: As to the Ghandi quote it works only once a person is well equipped in every other way. Once a person is trampled by their circumstances the horse is already out of that barn.

          I agree with what you are saying here Thomas in the first person in terms of self definition but what is plain is that many people are already in a place where they have already defined themselves in terms of trauma.

          What I have trouble with is seeing the person in pain and offering platitudes. All of the sayings are great to forearm ourselves and we should make ourselves strong to every extent that we are able. True Enlightenment (which is a valuable thing) does give people that strength in many circumstance but you already know how I feel about people claiming it based on never having their metle tested in the fire.

          However when faced with another's pain I think we model strength and courage and get busy in the trenches and help by holding a flashlight in the dark and offering love, triage and encouragement.

          I think you have been with people who have no ablity to sense their present moment in this moment. They are trapped in a frightening experience to a greater or lessor extent. In some moments words are not worth as much as hug. Compassion is sometimes worth more than our own wisdom in many circumstances because wisdom is discovered for oneself and compassion can be received.
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          Jun 14 2011: Debra, you say... "I wish I could bridge the gap between our ways of thinking Lindsay".
          The phrase "nobody can hurt me without my permission" may be somewhat confusing, so please let me offer a bridge.

          Usually, we don't consciously give someone permission to hurt us. Once we realize that we are hurt however, we have the ability to carry that hurt, and in that way, we give the other permission to continue to impact us...make sense?

          As Thomas insightfully says..."don't let it define you". Suffering is caused by holding onto the hurt and allowing it to define who we are. For example, I could define myself as a child of abusive dysfunctional family, or cancer survivor, or Traumatic brain injury survivor, etc.
          I do not choose to hold onto any of those labels. Those were experiences I had in life that provided opportunities to learn and grow beyond the experience itself.

          Debra, to use your metaphore..."once the person is trampled by their circumstances, the horse is already out of the barn". That's when knowing ourselves and exploring the underlying emotions helps us move through the challenge. We can get out of the horses way...we can tie the horse up...we can lock the barn door...and when we reach a certain level of understanding, with our own exploration and the help of our friends, we can learn to ride and control the horse:>)

          Funny you should use this metaphore because it was a horseback riding accident that caused my near fatal head injury:>) One of the first things I did when I was able, is ride that horse again:>)
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          Jun 14 2011: P.S. It wasn't easy
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          Jun 14 2011: There are many levels of crisis and hurt, and many levels of healing and forgiveness. When I volunteered at a shelter, I held a woman in my arms who had been tied to a bed and tortured for 3 days, and there were many such stories. At that point, a person needs comfort, compassion, empathy and unconditional love. At some point in her healing process (different for each individual) she may realize that by staying with the abuser, she was giving permission for him to continue to abuse. She may realize that by helping and supporting others, she is better able to understand herself and move through the pain so she is not identifying herself with the experience...or not. Each individual will make his/her choice regarding what information they will accept and use at any given time. With empathy, sometimes we can feel what a person is ready to hear...or not.

          You are absolutely right Debra..."in some moments, words are not worth as much as a hug". Compassion AND wisdom can both be given and recieved.
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          Jun 14 2011: Colleen, That was a really helpful answer. I believe it was not easy.
          What helps me to understand the mindset better is that you are not denying being actually being and feeling hurt but saying that the way out of hurt is a decision. That makes sense to me. It is consistent with what I have seen happen for people over and over again. A process that starts in pain ends in victory when the person embraces a different way of looking at things - call it perspective, forgiveness or a forward focus.

          The day I was diagnosed with cancer i was told I had a few months to live at best and that would have been after I was eviserated like a turkey. I was as angry as I had ever been- steam came out of my ears and i isolated myself for fear of the inkiness of those feellings spilling out onto anyone else- for about 3 hours. I asked, as I remember you saying, 'Why me?' and then not long into my snit fit my subconscious spoke up and stopped me cold' some part of me asked myself 'Why not me? It was like a stream of cold clear water through my brain. 'Who would you rather carried this thing, your husband, your kids?' Suddenly I felt a surge of relief that they were safe and' why not me ' made a sense. In all the random events of the universe it did not seem the most impossible of turns so I came very quickly to terms with it and the doctors and medical people were convinced I was in some sort of denial until I marched through every hurdle and out the other side I just got on with it and help whomever I could in the process.

          My problem Colleen is that I saw many broken people who could not 'get on with it.' They were crushed and many of them died. I think that there must be a way to to transfuse that love and life into them. I believe that sometimes the cumulative horrors of a life time drag people into quick sand that they cannot get out of. I can't stand watching anyone sink and it horrifies me to have them called cowards, or victims or people who brought it on themselves.
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          Jun 14 2011: 3 Thumbs up for Colleen!
        • Jun 14 2011: Colleen
          Thanks for your words. The thoughts about compassion adn wisdom are very true.

          I want to say though that pain and suffering are real. It isn't I don't believe "if I allow it too"...it just hurts. People hurt for all sorts of circumstances. As you mention, you helping in a woman's shelter is a great way to see that. After having worked some terrifically horrible situations, some natural, some at least "man-induced", I know what that pain can be.

          In the midst of that pain, it is the thought of forgiveness, not my thoughts of it defining me that make the change possible. When I through love, as Cornelia says, reach into myself, not for myself, but for the other, and give forgiveness, I may find healing. It is my desire for the other to be healed that heals me. Sometimes however, that reaching out only results in the butt end of a rifle.

          This has been a great discussion.
          I think I do vote for holding the flashlight and getting down into the trenches as Debra says.
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          Jun 14 2011: Nobody told me when I came to this earth school that it was going to be easy. From the time I was a child, however, I knew it was about learning. I believe I am a spirit being having a human experience, and I'm going to give it my best shot!

          Right...we don't deny or ignore the feelings...we move through them...sometimes with words of encouragement, sometimes with lots of tears, and sometimes simply with a hug, mostly, by accepting what is happening in the moment and unconditionally loving ourselves through the process. Our decision, if/when we are capable of making decisions, is to stay in the "poor me" state, or move through the challenge with the information we have. I say, if/when we are capable, because there may be circumstances that prevent us from gathering information. Right after my brain injury, for example, the only thing I could think about or put my energy into was healing. The disconnects in the brain caused me to be incapable of making choices. As I began to heal, I was ready for more information and could start making simple choices...like...how many steps can I take today without falling down...I'm serious about that. We're all at different places in our journey at different times, which is why it is important to unconditionally love ourselves as well as unconditionally loving others. The way "out of hurt" is a decision (when we are capable of making that decision on many different levels) and acceptance of ourselves and the situation. Not acceptance that says "I'd like to repeat this and it's ok"! Acceptance as in "this is what happened to me, and I'm going to move through it and learn.

          What we focus on expands, so as long as we focus on the hurt, it becomes our identity. When we focus on moving out of the pain, we have the opportunity to let go of that identity and embrace another identity as an empowered person.

          The world is full of wounded people. All we can do is support those who come into our radar...starting with ourselves:>)
    • Jun 11 2011: You said to love yourself first, how do you really do it in an effective way to see the result that you've really forgiven that person and not just on a superficial level i.e to root up so that whenever you think of the bad incident that occurred, you have no more ill-will or anger towards the perpetrator and felt victimized again each time your memory takes you there again or your thoughts of the past incident popped up in your mind? Is just by consoling yourself, self-pity, reciting or saying that we need to love ourselves first workable to totally root it out? How do you effectively do it? Would meditation help? Appreciate your suggestion. Thank you.
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        Jun 11 2011: Carole, I think the questions you are asking are really important- very real and honest.

        I really think they deserve good answers so I am asking people from different perspectives to attend to your question and give you their feedback.
      • Jun 13 2011: Carole
        I believe that those feeling often pop into our heads, and they will continue to do so. I think though that by consciously saying I have forgiven you can make it not go away, just by saying that we are making that forgiveness part of ourselves again. We can literally understand and stand under our own forgiveness. And yes reflecting on a deep love that we hold in our hearts can help healing take place.
      • Jun 14 2011: Dear Carole, thank you for your sincere comments and questions. I would start by pointing out that consoling and self pity it might not the best way to help yourself when coming out of bad experiences. Accepting some bad incident through self pity puts a lot of pressure on your self esteem. And your self esteem is the key to your balance, as it is the key to loving and accepting yourself. Sometimes having to go trough a bad incident, request us to take the time and look closely to ourselves and sometimes we come out stronger from these experiences. Why? Because we spend more time, quality time with ourselves, trying to learn, understand our thoughts and feelings. One of my personal motto is that in every negative there is a positive, and this doesn’t mean that I am going around looking for trouble, not at all, it means that whenever I experience something “negative” I try to see what I can learn from it.
        Loving ourselves starts with accepting and appreciating ourselves, accepting our feelings, our strengths and weaknesses, having the desire to develop ours strengths and control our weaknesses, feeling worthy of life and love. To love yourself means to be kind to yourself, to take care of yourself, to listen to your feelings and needs, to feed your soul with knowledge, to be honest with yourself, to love yourself means ultimately to let yourself be the best of yourself. Everything I say here are pure personal opinions, you might disagree with it all or you might find it helpful…. Be well.
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          Jun 14 2011: thnaks you again Cornelia..excellent guidance.
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          Jun 14 2011: I agree that self pity may not be the best way to help ourselves, because it keeps us in a "poor me" mindset and prevents us from exploring deeper feelings to find understanding in ourselves. I also agree Cornelia, that in every situation, there is an opportunity to learn and grow in ourselves. There is always something to be grateful and thankfull for, when we are open to the possibilities. Knowing ourselves strengthens our self esteem, which allows us to accept, appreciate and unconditionally love ourselves and others. It is a cycle, in which unconditional love strengthens self esteem, which strengthens unconditional love...etc. I don't believe we can give something away, that we don't honestly have in ourselves first, so as you insightfully say, acceptance, appreciation, forgiveness, kindness, honesty and unconditional love are important to realize in ourselves.

          This is often a difficult concept for women to embrace because we were taught to always help others...take care of others...give of ourselves...don't cause waves...be the emotional support...etc. etc. We were often taught that loving ourselves is selfish. I have done what I was "supposed" to do in the past and found my energy and self esteem depleted in an effort to help someone else be more comfortable. When I realized I needed to care about myself, and give myself the same attention I was giving others, I became a more healthy person.
  • Jim Ivy

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    Jun 11 2011: What an interesting conversation!

    I’m a bit out of my depth here. Clearly most of you have given this a lot of thought. I have to confess that I had to double check to make sure that I can even spell “forgiveness” correctly.

    Lot’s of good ideas here. My favorite was “the most arrogant thing one can do is to tell someone that you forgive them”. I like that. Arrogance is a highly under-rated art form. Tomorrow I believe I will engage in a few arguments just so I can throw in “I forgive you” and see what happens.

    Most of you seem to agree that forgiveness is a good practical thing. That makes sense. Forgive and get on with your life. That is a difficult point to argue against. The disagreement seems to be about who deserves forgiveness.

    Now, I have never been raped. But I do have two daughters and the question of would I be able to forgive someone who raped one of my daughters stopped me. After giving due consideration to that question, I must say, yes, I would forgive the transgressor. However, I would withhold my forgiveness until I had finished removing the offending body parts with a very dull knife and cauterized the area, and any convenient body openings, with a very hot soldering iron.

    Did he deserve my forgiveness? I could care less. Any future threat to my family has been effectively neutered and I can at that point afford to forgive and move on.

    With that dilemma solved (at least to my satisfaction), the next question that struck me was, if forgiveness is such a good thing, why don’t we see more of it? Obviously there must be some payoffs to not forgiving, otherwise why doesn’t everyone forgive everything? So what are the good things that can come of holding on to a grudge?

    One of my favorite grudges is against William Tecumseh Sherman. I have never forgiven him for his march through Georgia. Never mind that the event occurred years before I was born. In fact, even long before my great grandfather was born. I don’t even like A
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      Jun 11 2011: Jim, I really enjoyed your response!

      Thanks for bringing in that rubber meets the road viewpoint.

      I do think it is FAR more difficult- at least for me- to forgive something done to someone I love than if it were done to me. In the case you cite above any forgiveness would challenge your role as a father - and the assumption that you 'could have or should have' been there to prevent it. (I love the fatherly protectiveness)

      My question for you is this: Do you think that in such events- that you might have a subconscious need to keep that grudge partially because 'doing something' and being hypervigilant after the offense would help to calm any sense of 'failure' to protect? I might be off the wall in my question- if so - I ask forgiveness in advance (and please don't bring your dull knives when you respond!)
      In what way would holdng the grudge help the victim?
      • Jun 14 2011: Well, I simply choose to reject "victimness". This may sound strange, but whether one is a victim or not really depends upon point of view. While I admit that in the "real" world, there may be things that "happen to" an individual, I personally pretend that everything that does happen, happens only for my higher lesson or best interest.

        Let me try to be more clear using the example of someone harming a family member. Since I am human, my immediate reaction would be concern, anger, fear, etc..., but eventually I would decide to stop reacting to the situation and would say to myself, "Ivy, nothing happens if it is not for your , higher good. Therefore you wanted this to happen. Why did you want this to happen?"

        The principle is this: The answer is contained, or preconditioned by the question. If you ask a non-fruitful question, you will receive non-fruitful answers. A victim will ask, "Why did this happen to poor little me?". A creator will look at the event from a different point of view, "Wow, faorout! I have really created a mess here but I know it is for the best because I only create what is for the best. Now what are the good things that I created this event to bring about?"

        This does not mean that victims do not exist. It is only another way of looking at the event after the fact. Obviously if I create something, the actual perpetrator is not to blame and there is absolutely nothing to forgive. They are blameless because I created the event. Nor do I need to forgive myself. I was doing absolutely the best I could do with what I had to work with. So forgiveness is not an issue because blame is not present.

        The point is that everyone can choose a point of view. They can choose to look at any event as a victim (Why did this happen to me?) or from accountability (Why did I WANT this to happen to me). There are payoffs for either way, but which question generates the more fruitful answers?
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          Jun 14 2011: I am confused. In your first post you certainly appeared to react to an event that hypothetically entered your daughters' lives. If your daughter clearly had signs of PTSD from the trauma would you get her help or just expect her not to be a 'victim'? How about if your son came back from war with PTSD? Woudl you just tell him to 'buck up'? Can everyone really choose a point of view- at least intitially?

          In this world view how does holding a grudge against a perpetrator work if he actually did you a favour by bringing this circumstance into your life?
      • Jun 14 2011: Good points! Yes, I would react. Nature has given us a fairly comprehensive set of emotional and physiological responses that have served us well and will continue to do so. I have (thus I suppose everyone has) immediate reactions to any threatening situation. Fathering responses and mothering responses seem to be innate, or at least widespread. This may be partly cultural but you can observe the same sorts of behavior in species other than the human species so there is also reason to suspect that the responses are not entirely due to culture.

        I suspect that the first thing I would do is comfort my child and that the second thing I would do is remove to the extent of my ability any future threat to my family. Eventually though, there is a time to move on. I would do my best to lead my child toward a viewpoint that would allow her or him to move on with their life. I certainly would do everything within my power to assist my child in moving on. That means I would do my best to find and reinforce positive aspects instead of reinforcing the negative aspects of my child's experience.

        "Choice" is an interesting concept. It seems that choice only exists when I recognize that it exists. If I don't know that I have a choice, then I do not have a choice. When I am on autopilot, I have no choice and will respond as nature and culture have programed me to respond.

        As soon as I recognize that other responses are possible, that I have a choice, then I can break out of autopilot mode and choose a different point of view. A different point of view generates different questions, thus different answers. One of those different answers may be more fruitful than the autopilot response.

        Well, I am out of space and have still not answered your question about holding a grudge. As far as I can see, a grudge is an autopilot response. It has useful functions to a certain point but once the threat is removed or distanced, the utility of a grudge diminishes.
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          Jun 14 2011: Thanks again for engaging the discussion Jim and for sharing this response that takes roles and internal programming into account.
      • Jun 14 2011: Debra, Your question was, "In this world view how does holding a grudge against a perpetrator work if he actually did you a favour by bringing this circumstance into your life?"

        Well, it doesn't. That is one of the advantages of looking at things from a different point of view. I can choose to let go of thoughts, attitudes, and actions that are not working in my current situation.

        Does that mean that I always do that. No. Sometimes, even though I know that there are different options, I choose to hold on to an less productive course simply because there is some emotional satisfaction.

        There are some good things about holding a grudge. For one, if I perceive someone as a threat, holding a grudge keeps that threat at the top of my mind and will hopefully allow me to avoid a recurrence of a harmful event.

        When the threat no longer exists, is there any utility to holding on to a grudge? There must be, otherwise why would anyone hold a grudge? Look at the number of books, plays, movies, etc. that are based upon the theme of grudges and revenge. If you begin with Homer and read a book a day, would you be able to get through all of them?

        So there must be benefits to a grudge that outweigh the logic. If nothing else a good irate grudge can keep away boredom!
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          Jun 14 2011: Here's to all the antidotes to boredom! Thanks Jim!
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          Jun 14 2011: I agree Jim, that we will hold on to any thought, feeling, idea, opinion or behavior as long as it serves us in some way. Asking myself the question..."how does this serve me", has helped me let go of some thoughts, feelings or behaviors that I prefer not to have. When we realize that it often serves the ego (which I think a grudge is) we can sometimes let go of it.
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          Jun 14 2011: One thought I hold onto is by C.S, Lewis that I learned in a master's of education course when I read a quote something to the effect that ' we must never forget what it felt like not to know.'

          He was speaking in terms of being a skilled teacher and how to share information. I try never to forget and leave people behind.
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    Jun 10 2011: Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again. Dag Hammarskjold

    Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave. Indira Gandhi

    Forgiveness is the economy of the heart... forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits. Hannah More

    Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. Mark Twain

    Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom. Hannah Arendt
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    Jun 10 2011: '
    Learning to forgive is 'the PhD" of being human. True or False?
    Absolutely true. Why? Because there's no universal answer for the additional questions you pose. Knowing what is when is indeed like "the PhD of being human" (figuratively speaking of course).

    I mean just for example...
    It is necessary to forgive? - IMHO, if it hurts YOU that the other begs for forgiveness, forgiveness is a must. Whether your threshold is just is another matter.

    Is it right to forgive? - Depends... some acts are unworthy of forgiveness, though mind you, that doesn't mean that they should be punished as severely.

    Who deserves forgiveness? Who doesn't deserve forgiveness? - It's not so much about "who" the person rather than their record and the issue at hand.

    Does a person have to ask for forgiveness to deserve it? - Depends on the issue.

    Can you accept being forgiven when you have hurt someone? - If I have asked for it, of course. If I haven't... depending on the issue, I might feel weird.

    What does forgiving do for the person who forgives? - Depends on the issue. It could alleviate anger or cause disturbance.
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      Jun 10 2011: Thanks Vasil for weighing in on the issues!

      Your take on the PhD is great!
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      Jun 10 2011: another voice for wisdom and hope and healing..so lovely to see you here Vasil
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      Jun 11 2011: Hi Vasil...........Glad to see you here. "Deserving of Forgiveness"It is my belief that no one deserves forgiveness. forgiveness is grace. It is unmerited. Your friend Helen
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        Jun 11 2011: forgiveness is grace..right you are Helen..right there with you.
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        Jun 11 2011: "forgiveness is grace"
        I'm not sure I get that phrase... Being able to forgive is a virtue IMHO, but "grace"? Do you mean by that "a good thing to do"? I'd agree, but then unless there is a criteria for it, it becomes worthless, hence the idea of someone being "worthy" (i.e. deserving) of forgiveness for a certain thing.
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          Jun 11 2011: Hi Vasil, Helen speaks from a Christian tradition where grace = the unmerited favour of God, clemensy or mercy.
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          Jun 11 2011: Vasil....................Forgiveness is not something that is given as a reward that is solely driven by a particular judgement of the person who is be forgiven. For instance if you have done something reprehensible, in order for you to live in peace with yourself.....you must forgive yourself. You must forgive those who would harm you because a grudge is a heavy burden to lug around. When you understand that the perp has reasons that pertain to his ego and compulsions that you are not involved personally with, then your own ego is not assaulted and you can forgive. Did I make my thoughts clear ???
          Grace can be defined as generosity of spirit.
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          Jun 12 2011: @ Debra..God has no hands but ours. We ourselves can offer grace. I believe that people are made in the image of God and you cannot see "grace" but that has a human face. :)
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          Jun 12 2011: I love the reminder that we are the active ingredient. Thank you!
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        Jun 11 2011: Oh. You're talking about... err... self forgiveness... when people forgive themselves.

        Yeah... I suppose I agree then. Forgiveness from another one is deserved, but self forgiveness comes from within, sometimes without forgiveness from the other, and sometimes long after the forgiveness from the other, if ever.
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          Jun 12 2011: Vasil..................If forgiveness is deserved then everyone is deserving of it by virtue of
          being human. Could you agree to that ?
        • Jun 13 2011: Helen and Vasil
          Thanks for this part of the conversation. Helen I certainly believe in the part about grace. I believe however we are always caught in the dialectic of "deserving or not deserving" grace and forgiveness. I believe in one true sense if we base it on "deserve" we are all up a creek. If however, we can learn to be accept grace and be grace-full...then we can forgive.

          Vasil, if we could ever learn to be agents of grace...now that would change the world.
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        Jun 12 2011: In general, yes... But certain acts are not deserving of forgiveness. For example, on a more extreme note, I would've never forgiven Bin Laden about 9/11, unless it was proven that he's not the one responsible. Bin Laden himself may have deserved forgiveness for other acts... but not for 9/11.

        I simply place a clear distinction between the person and his actions, and actions are the thing that is being forgiven, not the person. It's simply because the person is responsible for his actions that our language ties "forgiving the act" with "forgiving the person".
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          Jun 12 2011: Vasil...............I would agree that we are not what we do. That is not the ultimate value of a person. But we are responsible for what we do and therefore need forgiveness (because we are the actor)..Now speaking of Bin Laden, the problem with that is not the forgiveness that I offer but the fact that he is convinced he does not need forgiveness and therefore I am peaceful and he is not. He and people like him need to be removed from society and if conversion to peacefulness is possible ??? Ok if not then incarceration is the answer.
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        Jun 13 2011: Respetabilissima Signora Helen your point of view is real. It has their own weight and we feel very comforted with your words. The relativism and all that modern confussions are devastated the criteria with the false sense of freedom to all for anything, and the worst part is the general idea of missunderstood the Grazia Divina. The human justice is imperfect but you are one very bright person in your criteria. We are very gratefull with the sense of peace in your words: "people like him need to be removed from society".
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          Jun 13 2011: Thank you ,sir. I looked up your profile and I have been to your country and your lovely City, Napoli. So Beautiful.....To find a soulmate across the ocean is one heck of a good feeling. I look forward to the day when we all agree to this view. I wish I could speak Italian, it is such a beautiful language and I cannot say how much I have enjoyed Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli.
  • Jun 9 2011: I'd say forgiveness might be more the MA, not the PhD...

    Forgiveness is great - understanding and the ability to work around problems ultimately requiring forgiveness would be the PhD in my eyes...

    Rating forgiveness higher makes it sound like car insurance is the 'PhD' of driving - since it takes care of the aftermath of an accident... Shouldn't the PhD be not causing an accident to begin with?

    That said - forgiveness does rank very high... I just wouldn't give it the highest importance... I just can't bring myself to say apologizing for conflict ranks higher than circumventing conflict...
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      Jun 9 2011: Benedikt! What a great perspective!

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. Funny but I always thought of it as a master's class in being human too but a PhD seemed catchier for the title.

      What a great point that you make: "I just can't bring myself to say apologizing for conflict ranks higher than circumventing conflict..."

      What if, though, the conflict was not of your own making? What if we are talking about the real tough stuff like a violent crime against you by a stranger?

      Is that still doable?
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      Jun 9 2011: lovely and important distinction benedict..and I agree..a much more valuable life skill!!!!
  • Jun 9 2011: I analyze forgiveness like a formula for healing both sides. Forgiveness = understanding the situation + compassion - ego. Is that correct?
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      Jun 9 2011: Carole, I want to get out infront of your question and make it clear that I am NO expert and no one to judge anyone else's process of forgiveness.

      I do think the equation is terrifc though.

      There is no doubt that ego can be greatly implicated but as all of us are at different places in working with our own ego, that is hard to define as well.

      The question that remains in me from many situations is 'what if you do not have access to enough information or insight to understand? Does that negate of prevent forgiveness?
      • Jun 9 2011: It may have to do with information, not sure. It does have to do with truly understanding not the motives, or the reasons for the other person's action, but understanding in the sense of real comprehension of self-the other-and how forgiveness can step in.

        Jim is that what you were trying to say with conversation?
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          Jun 9 2011: When I ask about understanding, I am referring to the situations in this world that just make no sense.

          I am convinced and believe that we can learn to forgive in the absense of 'getting it' and that the attempt to 'get it' can swamp some people in a state that reminds me of PTSD.
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          Jun 9 2011: @debra..wow!! Great point debra and pretty much what I have been trying to sya but you have said it so simply and practically.

          WE can;t need to get it to get over it.

          It's hard enough just to get over it.

          well said.
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          Jun 10 2011: Michael I missed something profound in your response above when I read it the first time.

          "It does have to do with truly understanding not the motives, or the reasons for the other person's action, but understanding in the sense of real comprehension of self-the other-and how forgiveness can step in."


          Real comprehension of the SELF in relation or in juxtaposition to THE OTHER.

          This seems to me to be a profound clue to freeing oneself from prisons of torment.

          I have seen people continue to suffer from events that occurred decades before long after the victimizer was dead.
      • Jun 9 2011: Personally I am more convinced now than ever, there are lots of things out there I will never "get". Yes, there are things beyond understanding. But yes, forgiveness can come without getting it.
      • Jun 10 2011: Debra, well analyzed by you. If in that case, I think it very much depends on whether if one is ready to forgive regardless of availability of information. If we look at the root word of forgive, it breaks down into "for" and "give". We ask, "for what purpose?", usually when you give forgiveness, you are the one healing yourself first without knowing whether the other side can accept your forgiveness or also heal from your forgiveness. If other side forgive well and good if not, you are the one to gain from giving forgiveness. More often than not, we do have enough information of the situation to get into a dispute or misunderstanding to open to forgiveness, I think. That's what I feel about forgiveness in general.
      • Jun 10 2011: Debra
        I do believe that is right. We can never understand the earthquakes...to use the metaphor above. We can sometimes "under-stand" our own selves and try to understand the other.
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          Jun 10 2011: OK, Michael,

          I am sensing that you are exposing something pretty profound here about 'under-standing' our own selves.

          If you've got more- I'm asking for it!
    • Jun 9 2011: I think so Carole...that's a hard formula though, face it.
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    Jun 9 2011: Very complicated subject.... Some quick thoughts:

    Forgiveness is a form of respect.

    Forgiveness needs a partner. It's something like yin/yang

    "To err is human. To forgive divine....." True? Do we reach divinity by forgiving?

    In order to forgive someone or some group, there must be understanding of what you are "forgiving" that takes place. Perhaps the conversation that preceeds the forgiving is the hardest part.
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      Jun 9 2011: Jim, Thanks for the insights.

      Why do you believe that forgiving needs a partner? Can it happen without the yin or the yang?

      I think you are referring to forgiveness in the context of an ongoing relationship and that is an important skill in life.
      How do you begin those tough conversations that lead to forgiveness? Do you have to reach a place emotionally before tackling it?

      "In order to forgive someone or some group, there must be understanding of what you are "forgiving" that takes place.life." Can you elaborate more on this? I do not quite understand.
    • Jun 9 2011: Jim, I think you are right about that understanding part, and that like carole says above is a part of the equation. It isn't really an intellectual understanding though, more like a deep seated knowledge.

      Debra, I think the conversation can and should begin with one's self....ok...yes, conversing with your own understanding.
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        Jun 9 2011: Michael, great point. Any 'talking to' has to start with oneself because when you get to 'the other' it has to be a conversation 'with' to be productive.
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    Jun 9 2011: To err is human, to forgive is divine - Alexander Pope.

    I truly believe in this.Forgiveness strengthens relationships.Forgiveness gives us hope for a better future.So, to answer your questions

    1)It is necessary to forgive
    2)It is never wrong to forgive anyone who has hurt you in the past.
    3)Everyone no matter how bad the situation was.
    4) Everyone deserves forgiveness
    5)Normally,yes but this does not apply to all types of situation
    6)If it strengthens the relationship between I and the other person,yes.
    7)It heals your broken heart
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      Jun 9 2011: Muhamad! I love the way you finish with the recognition that a heart is broken. In this whole process, I think it is a key element that many forget. Something is broken and we need healing.
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    Jun 9 2011: here are something about forgiveness


    just realised that i posted it twice sorry for that . and Debra , do you think there are some people who forgive easier than others ?
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      Jun 9 2011: Amily! You are an amazing research person!
      These links have lots of information. Thank you!

      I am posting a segment from it : :"Introduction of a New Model of Forgiveness: Measurement & Intervention"C. R. Snyder, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas, proposes to test a basic "forgiveness-linkage" model. This will demonstrate the psychometric properties and the construct validity of this Forgiveness Scale. A three-year program is designed to test the "forgiveness-linkage" model using college students and non-students. The ability of the scale to predict life outcomes as they relate to relationships, work, health, and aging will also be explored. Research References
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      Jun 10 2011: Amily, I missed your question the first time I read it. I am sorry.

      To answer: Yes, for some people forgiveness appears to be an easier task. I think it may have to do with the depth of the psychological injury and whether you have suffered repeated injuries. It makes sense that one might become more fearful and more self-protective.

      Maybe the experience of trauma it is like an earthquake. Some earthquakes are mild and just rattle the house. and life goes on. Some houses are built to withstand earthquakes - their foundation and their building codes are reinforced. If cracks appear you plaster over the cracks and move on without being fearful of earthquakes in every minute. Other earthquakes are far worse and collapse the building of your life. In those cases you must integrate the events into your whole world view in order to build a new 'house' to live in.

      So, I think people are a bit like houses. The strong ones look at damage and just repair and move on. Those who are either more broken or more frequently injured may need to take more time to find a way forward.

      I hope that made some sense. If not, or if you want more clarification please just ask.
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        Jun 10 2011: Debra, i re-edited the post this morning so thats why.

        yes . it makes senses that it has something to do with how big and how frequent the" Earthquake" is. A really good analogy of the house and earthquakes which remiands me of the major earthquakes i have been thru and exactlly takes time to live in a house again.
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          Jun 10 2011: It just hurts me so much when people with houses that have collapsed are not treated kindly or judged.

          Much of the research work that I have done helps me to realize that there is a phenomenon called 'blaming the victim'.

          People feel some fear in the presence of other people's tragedies and pain. They do not know what to do or think. Sometimes when the cogntive dissonance gets too great they hide their fear from their own mind behind anger at the victim.

          This can lead to various behaviours. One is to tell yourself that you are simply a far smarter and far more equipped person who could never be caught in an earthquake and even if you were you would survive it much better.

          While I understand the motivation I still have the urge to protect the hurting people from the emotional machinations of others.
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          Jun 11 2011: Debra..very true what you said ( and worth a ted Conversation in istelf..the way people in need of compassion and help are abandoned by friends and family who become paralysed with their own vulnerability)

          Certainly having friends and loved one's blaming the victim for the transgression would drive anyone even deeper into woundedness. The victim then has to come back from even deeper woundedness to forgive both the transgressor and those who blamed the victim for the transgression.. That would put almost anyone out of order for quite some time..and possibly lead to even more alienation form support... a downward spiral..
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      Jun 11 2011: Amily, I love this quote from your link..seems to explain so much of the dynamic in this conversation

      ".Each time we witness an act of forgiveness, we marvel at its power to heal, to break a seemingly unending cycle of pain. Forgiveness is something virtually all Americans aspire to -- 94% surveyed in a nationwide Gallup poll said it was important to forgive -- but it is not something we frequently offer. (In the same survey, only 48% said they usually tried to forgive others.) Perhaps this is because forgiveness is something we don't fully understand. Perhaps, as Friedrich Nietzsche did, we associate forgiveness with weakness. Or perhaps we view forgiveness as an almost saintly quality that imbues only the very special and most certainly cannot be learned. "

      This particular essay goes on to point out that forgivess is even pre-human..found in apes..Interesting in that it suggests why forgiveness is essential not only for the health and vitality of the indvidual but for the health and viatlity of community..if everyone held on to grudges, woundedness and resentment for every wrong..it would erode and undermine culture and community.
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        Jun 11 2011: Thanks so much for delving into the reference and drawing out this quote for all of us, Lindsay. I notice that you often do the work to bring the wisdom within our grasp and I appreciate that.

        This is a particularly meaningful quote in this context but it is your own summary last paragraph that ties so many things together.
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    Jun 8 2011: Forgiveness at least the way I see it is more of a step than the peak. If one choose not to forgive, which is within one right, then one will always carry an emotional anchor with them. Forgiveness allow us to let go of that emotional block, which is empowering, but i would not consider it the pinnacle of human development. I believe that is when we learn to integrate our experience joyous, horrid, traumatic, stigmatizing, whatever, with a sense of self that is the best version we can be, that is, for me at least, the crown of human experience. When we can benefit from our tormentors, that is when we have arrived. Easier said than done though.
    • Jun 8 2011: Very wise Anthony
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      Jun 8 2011: Anthony, I love the point you are making about forgiveness being part of a process of integration.

      Is it limited to integrating the narative of your life or is it something more?
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        Jun 9 2011: I'm assuming your question is referring to is about learning or being inspired by others to live a life less cluttered by negative emotion. It think that is wonderful. That is what we are here for, to help each other live better.
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    Jun 8 2011: I think forgiveness is very beautiful indeed.

    It is a high moral value, and it is imo a recognition of our own imperfections, (and of others).

    Forgiveness is however connected to repent, except in those cases where you accept that the person who has done the wrong is incapable of understanding what he did wrong...

    Nobody 'deserves' forgiveness, it is a gratitude one can get from a fellow human.
    And the choice of not accepting the forgiveness is a non-choice: one is forgiven or one is not. It cannot be undone by the receiver.

    If one accepts forgiveness, one is (partly) released of the burden of guilt. Allowing the person to get on with his life, and try and be a better person.
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      Jun 8 2011: Christophe, a sincere thank you for your well considered answer.

      I would like to ask you about your assertion that forgiveness is connected with repentence. From where do you think that idea arose? Am I not freed from a prison of pain by releasing someone that I hold a grudge against? Whether they ever know it or not, whether they repent or not, what good does nursing that pain do for me?

      Is forgiving the same as forgetting what the person did? Or is it the same as being wiser than to put yourself at their mercy again?
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        Jun 9 2011: A lot of questions... I'll try and respond
        (I'll go through them in order)
        1) From my Catholic education, I learned that when one sinned (now, I'd say "when a person feels he has done wrong"), he should realize what he/she did, and show repent (I did wrong, I realize, and I want to take responsibility for what I've done)... In the traditional logic, forgiveness ought to be granted.
        => so I think these ideas come (culturally) from catholicism or Christianity.

        2) I think that is somewhat true. Forgiving gives the forgiver the option to move on, and not to be bounded by the harm that has been dealt to him. It does act as a relief (but then you truly need to forgive)

        3) If you forgive, you have let go... if you still have hardship or pain, you did not forgive truly. As you mention, forgiveness must (I realize now) indeed be connected with a 'letting go' of things (maybe that's why repent can make it easier for the person who is (or willing to) forgive.
        (Maybe sometimes forgiveness is conditional, hence repent. maybe that is not true forgiveness... I'm not sure about that)

        4) NO! Forgiving is not forgetting... it means a letting go of the blame/guild process, and the recognition of human error. Forgetting is as if it did not happen. Forgiving is realizing it did happen, and you consciously forgive... One can remember what happened (one should!) and keep to the forgiving (i.e. realizing what happened and not be grudge-full or burdened by it no more)

        5) I think so... not sure. But it is a form of acceptance... even so, you can still put yourself at the forgiven person's mercy... and are allowed to. If you believe the person indeed has received the forgiveness (by showing repent), you can truly do so. If you forgave and did not see repent (clearly), you can still be cautious, as you realize the receiver did not understand the process, and you would be foolish to put yourself at mercy of someone who can not handle that.
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          Jun 9 2011: What a generous sharing! Thank you, Christophe for answering my quesitons.

          There is a very foundational and traditional concept of forgiveness that comes from faith but that does not mean that the goodness of the idea of forgiving is exclusive to people of faith. Everyone needs to be released from the prisons of pain caused by injustices done by others. Sometimes we are our own jailers when the person who did the act has long forgotten it.

          To your point about letting go: One of the most common things I have seen is that people are committed to forgiving and then they pick it back up and feel the exquisite pain of the injury again and again. I do not know why this is the road many people must travel but they only seem to find peace when they put it down for good.

          People need absolute freedom to travel this road at their own pace and in their own way without judgement. Forgetting a childhood rape for example, is never going to happen but some people find great comfort in forgiving and taking back their lives from abusers.
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          Jun 10 2011: a fabulous exchange Debra and Christophe..a really good plain valnilla abc's of forgivess..excellent.
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        Jun 9 2011: Debra..............Forgiving is not forgetting. It is understanding that enables forgiveness.
        My life coach tells me this...."When you understand it all there may be nothing to forgive".
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          Jun 9 2011: I once heard the same phrase in French... "tout savoir, c'est tout pardoner"
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          Jun 9 2011: An internatinonal language of forgiveness!
          Doesn't that give hope for humanity?
          What a great point Helen! Thanks for joining in.

          Your thought really illuminates another part of this thing. The thing that we are carrying around and sufferingfrom could have other interpretations, other perspectives, other explanations.

          What do we do with the hurts and grudges we can never understand?
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    Jun 15 2011: @ Debra, allow me to say this: In my work, I find that people really do have answers to the deepest questions that they ask, sometimes they just dont see it. I found the best explanation for my concept of life in your statement: " I asked, as I remember you saying, 'Why me?' and... some part of me asked myself 'Why not me? It was like a stream of cold clear water through my brain... Suddenly I felt a surge of relief that they were safe and' why not me ' made a sense. In all the random events of the universe it did not seem the most impossible of turns so I came very quickly to terms with it and the doctors and medical people were convinced I was in some sort of denial" You just blew me away! Here's why.

    What made some 'voice' in your subconscious speak to you? And do we assume that the same voice didnt speak to the other patients? It did. That voice speaks to all of us, and you choose to listen, and "awaken". Others choose not to listen. In my view, that entire experience was your lesson which you prepared for yourself, so enable you grasp some reality about life that you needed to have, and move on the the next level of your learning. You could just as asily have chosen to ignore the voice, and turned into another victim. But you didn't, and their lies the biggest difference to how two people react to any situation. I want to bet that after your experience you become different in some major way, if not in terms of world view then in terms of your self view. Once you learn something about your real self, there is no turning back. And that to me is the purpose of all 'suffering'. In all pain lies a lesson for each one of us, just as in all death lies a gift for those left behind. It just takes time, patience and understanding for the lesson to come through.

    Again, I struggle to put into words the image and feeling that your words created in me. I can only say that I was really happy to read them. Thank you!
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    Jun 15 2011: Well, Bob is right. When I apologized here on TED when I first began posting on Ted. I took responsibility for my actions and I said I did not want to engage with people in that way by being sarcastic, or judgemental and that I would hereafter engage politely and courteously. I have kept that promise and changed my attitude. The particular person I did not approach. Since that person posted another hook after my apology. So yes there can be forgiveness without reconciliation because sometimes it is not possible. I was so happy when someone from Canada posted to me "God bless you, Helen."
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      Jun 14 2011: Ed, if we take it to a practical example of a person in the panic state and confusion of an event - the 'clenched self' state can you tell me exactly what you feel your responsibilty to or role in that person's life is? While my afflictions may not be a smooth gliding horse do I have any moral responsibiity to help a person with a 'run away horse'?

      I am wondering if there is a mindset at work here which makes your responsibility to your own spiritual enlightenment and observer status more critical than helping another person in distress? Is the 'other' entirely responsible for his own path and if so is the role of helper somehow a defective spiritual state in this enlightened world view?
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    Jun 14 2011: Let's say for a moment that, from here on out, all of our teachers would be trained to teach forgiveness. How would that change the world i 20 years out???
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      Jun 14 2011: Jim I think we are in agreement that education does not teach the most crucial things even though teachers are trying hard. I have never understood why we focus so much on smething like sex ed (not that I'm saying to eliminate it ) without ever first teaching kids basic skills of interacting- like forgiveness and apology.
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    Jun 14 2011: I have had the honor of working with children during my career as a parent and teacher, and so I have a perspective that maybe others have not experienced or at least thought of.

    On occasion, one child will do another child harm. They do it in all kinds of ways. Children, truth be told, can be cruel!!! It is almost always the case, when incidents occur that involve forgiveness of a child by a child, that an adult steps in (as they should) to mediate the process. It is often the case, however, that the mediator (adult) immediately insists that the child at fault apologize. Typically, nothing is expected of the victim. If you watch closely, most often neither the “forgiver” nor the "forgivee" are at all sincere about their part in the forgiveness process.

    In following this great discussion it occurs to me that, just like almost everything else we want to see happen in life, education is the key. In this case, maybe parents, educators and others in the role of mediating forgiveness between two children go about it a little differently. Maybe the focus/emphasis should be as much on the ability of a person to forgive as on being forgiven. It makes perfect sense when you think about it, doesn't it? Or not?
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      Jun 14 2011: Absolutely, This is another very important point. All of the 'anger' of a social group is focused on the perpetrator (who in reality is just another human being who made a bad - or even rotten- choice). The person who was injured is rather invisbile in our court systems or in our normal day to day processes. The really insidious part is that a person who does not process this well can go a variety of directions- only a few of them good. They can be so impressed by the incident that they decide to identify with the victimizer- an outcome none of us can afford in a society that happens far more often than we realize or they can be crushed at the other extreme. Evaluating their state of mind and helpng them into a better process is a better way of handling it for all concerned.
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        Jun 14 2011: And in the case of children, how can we educate them to forgive as well as to teach the perpetrator (?) to "say you're sorry"? In my mind, it almost always comes back to education.
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          Jun 14 2011: It's not enough to teach the offender to simply say they are sorry. Whether it is children, or adult offenders, they need to know why they are saying the words. While mediating with adult offenders, I always asked them the questions..."Can you imagine how this would feel if it was done to you?" If it's possible, ask the victim to tell the offender how it feels...how it impacted his/her life. The offenders have often been victims. A large majority of incarcerated men have been physically, sexually, emotionally assaulted as children. The only way the cycle is going to be broken is for ALL parties to start realizing the ramifications of their actions. We can try to "evaluate their state of mind" all we want. They are not going to change, until they learn how to evaluate themselves.
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          Jun 14 2011: That's why you are in the right place for you Jim- for some it is a calling.
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          Jun 14 2011: Colleen this is an important sentence from your last entry:

          The only way the cycle is going to be broken is for ALL parties to start realizing the ramifications of their actions. We can try to "evaluate their state of mind" all we want. They are not going to change, until they learn how to evaluate themselves.

          I absolutley agree. However, my point all along and in this instance too is that you cannot make a cake without the ingredients. We all want and need people to evaluate themselves- both victims and perpetrators but I think -IF THEY KNEW HOW TO DO IT THEY WOULD HAVE DONE IT ALREADY!

          You have helped me clarify my point and my thinking again. We could demand, insist, belittle, abandon or meditate on it for an eternity but if they do not have the 'light' it is not going to happen. That is where the humanity and the caring of everyone else comes into play.

          Andrea on the FREEDOM question brought in some great insight about this and I'm going there now to bring some of it back because it is very relevant here.
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          Jun 14 2011: Kids have "the light" when they come to this earth school. Circumstances in their precious little vulnerable lives cause them to cover up their own light. We need to empower kids to know they have choices regarding their behaviors.
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          Jun 14 2011: Andrea wrote these words in the context of Freedom but i think they work to illustrate how much we need each other in learning and living and forgiving as well. Same human process!
          "A friend brought Beth the snail with potted wild violets. Which left her initially overwhelmed wondering how she’d care for it from her imprisoned physical state. Engaging solutions, Beth noticed what they brought. Namely, life she hadn’t perceived possible at that point.

          Caring for the snail, she began appreciating it as exemplary of life. She took responsibility (James’ term) for her access by meeting the snails needs. In these ways she constructed even while accessing this little freedom, on her own. And as you note, now engages others by sharing her story of discovery.

          I contend this access (hers first, ours vicariously) was abetted exogenously. Her friend co-created her freedom.

          While others brought bouquets of cut flowers in attempts to cheer her, this friend brought living things from woods -- where Beth once sought solace. The cut flowers withered and died, leaving Beth the problem of disposing them, if not a reminder of her vulnerability.

          The simple organic gifts (violets and snail) offered potentials she could engage and nurture. (And bring to mind comments by Tim and Birdia.)

          Thus her friend provided opportunity for Beth to reach a life-sustaining potential, by building a self-healing “in-situ” ecosystem. A powerful reminder and impetus to embrace her heretofore unperceived self-agency in accessing this freedom, even while she was otherwise physically dependent on others.

          Engaging this she discovered her capacity to build a "mini-culture" in an otherwise stifling place. This free-space was unmistakably (if unintentionally) co-created by her friend.
        • Jun 14 2011: Jim
          I think you are right that education is key. Sometimes it may come back to begin to teach again simple common courtesies. I am not talking about the 15 minute film on "Being Courteous" but maybe it wasn't so bad after all. Teaching people to forgive and to accept forgiveness would not be so bad.

          Yes we need to break the cycle. I so totally agree with that and that everyone in the cycle needs to understand it. Sounds strange, but at some level that includes us all! The other point that is true is that being cyclical we need to teach it as such. We have too much "linear-think" going on. We want to blame someone, so we keep going back until we find one who isn't a victim, but victimizes. We need to start realizing that many problems like this are all wrapped up in a systems approach not a linear cause and effect approach.
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          Jun 14 2011: We absolutley have found common ground in this statement that I have transferred from your last post:

          We need to start realizing that many problems like this are all wrapped up in a systems approach not a linear cause and effect approach.

          That is a vital piece of the puzzle!
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          Jun 14 2011: Michael and Debra,
          When you say it is a "systems approach" are you not putting it "out there" somewhere?

          To me, it doesn't sound at all strange to say "that includes us all". There is a quote by Ernest Holmes in "Science of Mind" that I love, because it reminds me of reality. "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice". We need to stop talking about "it" and BE "it".
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          Jun 14 2011: Colleen, again - its the same sense that I get of you assuming you have plugged the lessons in and I haven't. Is it really worthwhile for me to say 'look what I have done?' and compare it in any way given that there is still so much more for all to do?
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          Jun 15 2011: That is YOUR perception...it is not MINE. My comment says it "INCLUDES US ALL"..."WE need" to do it. Are you going to call me passive agressive again? Or what label will you use this time?
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          Jun 15 2011: No, it was not passive aggressive. All I have to work with is my perception. Is that your pain body speaking or do you have another name for it? If it is manifesting what is the next step?How forgiven or accepted was I if you are on alert for it again?

          In fact a systems approach means not 'out there' but out there, in here and all around.
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          Jun 15 2011: My "pain body speaking"?
          No Debra, I speak from my heart. I don't like to label myself and I'm not particularly fond of someone else labeling me either, as we've discussed previously.
          I told you, there was/is nothing to forgive because I didn't blame or judge you in any way. You are always accepted in my heart. Labels are not.
        • Jun 15 2011: Colleen
          Actually taking a systems approach to looking at problems can lead to very specific focussing on what the real problem is. Also, it looks at problems as a whole. Now speaking about our court system, violators and people violated, that becomes a huge problem! Again, in this perspective larger society has to have a place in the system. I also believe firmly that a systems approach can show you where the real leverage in the system exists.

          On on one-on-one approach it helps to look at all sides of the cyclical nature of most things. As I said we are way to linear think. Cause and effect are not necessarily close to each in time or space, things don't happen in the direct sequences we sometimes look for. Helping both the violator and the violated to see what is happening around them could have a profound effect.

          I think forgiveness is one of those parts of that cyclical nature of things. It demands that people encounter their responsibility in the situation. Not that the one violated is responsible for the act against him, but in the sense that everyone owns up to the situation. Forgiveness says in spite of the hurt I received I forgive your actions.
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          Jun 15 2011: I agree Michael,
          That's why I volunteered in the shelter and family center, dept. of corrections, facilitating several programs, evaluating and advocating with children in state custody, facilitated self-empowerment workshops and support groups, volunteered in a terminal care facility, and guest lectured at the univ. for years on these topics...thanks for the reminders:>)
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        Jun 15 2011: Hi Ed,
        Living with 5 of my own day in and day out from conception to adulthood gave me a good chance to see them and love them in all their complexity and it took a total investment of my life to nurture them as people to go out into the world to be constructive people who care about others as well as themselves. Some people are equipped to invest in others while some have a different focus.

        Each person is entitled to their own beliefs and practices.

        One key function that I wanted my kids to own as they went into the world is forgiveness. Another is the ability to remember that they were a member of the human race with rights and obligations. While their personal development was important it should not be done at the expense of or in neglect of human beings surrounding them.
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    Jun 14 2011: Greetings all. I would like to respond to the various questions/comments raised on my contribution- which by the way, are all absolutely wonderful. And I mean that! I will try to remain true to my intention, which is to remain very simple, but hopefully not simplistic, and to respect that all we all have opinions (a way to understand life that allows meaning, purpose and direction). I therefore speak only of my intepretation of life that works for me. Have I as Ronald experienced the very painful situations raised by Debra? No. And perhaps even what I have experienced would pale in comparison with the next person. Would my approach be different if I had? Perhaps. Maybe I would also see life differently if I had been born a woman, but that I really cannot prove. I struggle to answer without appearing either completelty out of touch with reality, insensitve, apologetic, or just plain pathetically brainwashed. I just have my own understanding, and this is it:
    1. As humanity we have in the past chosen to learn who we are through pain. Sad, perhaps and tough too.
    2. We all have a soul that needs to learn, heal, grow and so far it has been confined to learning through pain & fear.
    3. We all experience all aspects of reality, healthy/ unhealthy, rich/poor, thief/saint/ murderer/victim. I've been a slave as well as a slave master, male & female, lived a long life, died young..in many 'past' lives.
    4. I planned all the experiences that I face today. There is a reason for everything, otherwise the universe is just plain chaotic, things happening and colliding by pure chance. I may not understand it as a child, or as a grieving father, but the fact that I don't understand something now does not, at least to me, mean it is pointless.

    I know all these, at the core of my heart, to be true but modern science demands that I MUST prove it otherwise it is all in my mind. However, I am on Ted Conversations to share and learn. I only ask that my truth be accepted as mine, for now.
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      Jun 14 2011: Ronald, I really appreciate this response because it is so direct and such a clear statement of your premises. Your reactions to all things and in particular the concept of acceptance is very consistent with your world view. I would have nothing to add to the thinking of one who believes that the victimization and cruelty in this world are a function of the person's own choosing. I would tip my figurative hat and walk on.