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Meyla Hooker

Educator, KIPP Houston High School

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Is there a framework for forgiving yourself?

I have met many people lately that often find it impossible to forgive themselves (for situations big and small). I once thought this was easy for me. When I delved deeper, however, it became apparent that I have the same issue. Would love your thoughts on this topic.

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    Nov 6 2011: I read about this topic in a really interesting book called. "Beyond Good and Evil" written by Michael Schmidt-Salomon. I do not know whether it was translated into english, or not (original in german-"Jenseits von Gut und Böse").
    MSS states that free will does not exist. The brain can have only one state at a given time. One neuronal pattern. This is based on all the experiences you have had, including your education, etc., your genes and the momentary flood of information from your environment. Because there are no actions without a cause, your mind can only think what it is able to think, but nothing else. So in a given moment in the past, you could not have reacted any other way, than you did, because your brain could not do it any other way.
    Based on this thought, it is true, that you would say, than noone is responsible for any action they have done. That is true, but this does not lead to fatalism. There are no "morals", but there still are ethics. You can still say, what is right and wrong. And you can regret, what you did in the past, but you are not guilty. That is the big difference. And it is delightful.
    And this does not lead to determinism either. It is true, that you could not have acted differently in the past. But all of the information that can change your mindset this way or another, is not determined.
    With this you can forgive yourself and others more easily. And critisism becomes the greatest gift. All the critisism you recieve from others is helpful, and even if it was meant to hurt you, you know that this person could not have done differently. And you can criticize others as much as you want, when you know that they would not be hurt by it.
    I would love to have this kind of society. Maybe even here on ted. Noone has to be ashamed of his/her lack of knowledge, etc. No question would be to stupid to be asked. No comment too bad, like this one..:)
    We could strive more easily to the goal we all seek. To spread our ideas.
    • Nov 7 2011: Till ; If We DON*T Have Free Will According To MSS , Then Why Did You POST ??? ... Because You Seen A NEED .... And Filled It .... Bless You And Your Loved Ones .... Peace Through IDEAS ....!!! ....EveryOne Is Precious ... No Matter What ... Their Circumstances ...!!! ... You Have To Love Yourself .... To LOVE ....Others ...!!! ....... Most People DON*T LIKE OR LOVE Themselves .... You Have To Live In Your BODY ... So Why Prolong The Wait ...??? LIFE Is GOOD .... To Be ALIVE .... Another DAY ....!!!...
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      Nov 9 2011: My goodness, Till, this is a really different take on the issue of forgiveness. I have read & re-read your post several times, trying to distill my response. Here goes:

      While I like the concept of moving "beyond good and evil", I'm not convinced it is humanly possible. I define "good" as any state or action that is pro-survival ... not just for oneself but also for Mankind and all living things. And as long as more experiences await me, that I can enjoy, contribute to, and learn from, I remain interested in survival. It is my contention that God wants exactly that for each and every one of us, for we are "parts of God".

      Further, as a part of God (which I define as "ultimate simultaneous consciousness"), I have infinite potential and infinite choice. Thus, I do not accept MSS's statement that "free will does not exist". I'm not sure you do either, even though you put it forward to this discussion.

      You then move directly to a claim that "the brain can have only one state at a given time." Hmmm. I have a really hard time thinking with that one. I am not my brain. I am not even my mind, although I admit to having a mind that focuses my thoughts and uses my brain to interact with my body and my environment. And while I grant you that my mind certainly has a say in determining what I choose to do, and that the state of my brain also exerts its influence, that state is in constant change and is not the only influence. My consciousness - which is to say, ME - is the prime causative influence over my behavior, and over my choice of response to any given situation ... which is RESPONSIBILITY. We are each responsible, and I know this based on all the experiences I have had, my education, etc.

      I'm glad you agree that there are indeed ethics, and right & wrong, and regret. Perhaps you are simply saying that regret need not descend into guilt, and with that I certainly agree. And a society without guilt would surely be a step up from today's society.
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        Nov 9 2011: Thank you for your answer.
        Are only humans "part of God"? Where would you draw the line if you could. I don't think we can draw one at all. So is every living thing on this earth "part of God"? And what about extraterrestrial life?
        You state that you are not your brain. The brain is the only connection to the real world. It merges all your senses. If not, one is completely distorted, or loses consciousness.
        There was an evolutionary advantages to be able to represent oneself to communicate with others, to predict the outcome of one's actions. The feeling of a self, an "I", came with the representation of the own body and the skill of pointing one's attention to something specific.
        I don't think, that there is this kind of dualism, some soul or consciousness that is indepandent from the brain. That had to be something non-physical, and I don't believe in God or Gods, or anything that would give us this skill, at some point in evolution. And if, why should they, why humans,etc,etc.
        Panta rhei. And I don't think that anything can twiddle with this stream.

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