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Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do.
A tough hurdle to jump. But an even tougher hurdle would have been, “Forgive them for they know precisely what they do.” Is it easier to forgive a sin born of ignorance than it is to forgive one done in perfect awareness? Can there be innocence in ignorance? Even a need for forgiveness? The answer to the first question should be yes. To the second, maybe no.
What is it that requires forgiveness? A wrong done to us or by us. Forgiveness is personal. There doesn’t appear to be any need for forgiveness for the wrongs of others done to others. That would merely require pardon, not the same at all. How about; Forgive us our trespasses?
Now we get into the spiritual realm and not really the subject of today’s discussion. But it’s worth mentioning when we look at the degree of the wrong
Was the wrong a venial sin (minor) or one of the mortal variety (major)? The distinction requires a mediator, a higher authority, a judge. This can be scripture, Rome, Canterbury, or the passing mores of a fickle society. Both sins demand forgiveness but it can be a matter of degree, a simple Hail Mary or a scourge.
I have personal experience with forgiveness through reconciliation. It required an understanding of the circumstances, the mitigating factors. Once both parties acknowledged this, forgiveness became possible, even healing. There was a time when the conflict seemed irreconcilable. It was truly a bad scene. To my credit, not meaning to brag, but I made the first overture. It seemed only right when I was first to give offence. But it all worked out in the end. Forgiveness (and trust) was slow in coming, but the formula worked. I also have had experience with the Let It Pass kind. Those are the slow-simmer kind that are likely to flare up again.
At first, I confused forgiveness with mercy. Things like mercy or empathy or compassion can be rather condescending, but they do get mixed up with forgiveness. Then I realized that these are qualities that facilitate forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a quality but an action. Portia reminding Shylock where that gentle rain comes from as if mercy is a quality so rare that it comes only from heaven.
It’s a give and take proposition.
Forgiveness is then both charitable and redemptive, something that is offered and received. For forgiveness to be effective it must benefit both parties.
I haven’t reached any firm conclusions yet, just danced around the issue. But I have experienced forgiveness and also what I believe is it’s opposite, condemnation.
I’ll get into the difference between condemnation and judgement some other time.
btw, I misquoted this afternoon. I should have said “The definition of insanity is to repeat the same experiment over and over, expecting different results”.
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