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What is the nature of 'Forgiveness'?


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Initial post: 9 Jul 2014 15:01:40 BDT
Spin says:
The Pope has asked us for 'forgiveness' concerning those cases of child abuse within the Church and 'forgiveness' is the central doctrine of Christian belief. But what is 'forgiveness'? What mental attitude is necessary to 'forgive'? 'Forgiveness', as displayed by both theists and atheists, is a mental state that requires an extraordinary mode of reasoning. Obviously, 'understanding' and 'acceptance' are necessary for forgiveness, but they are not sufficient.

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 16:04:10 BDT
Spin says:
A holocaust survivor forgives a nazi camp commandant. A mother forgives the man who raped and murdered her child...What exactly is the nature of this 'forgiveness'? I have had wrong done to me and my family (though not of such extremes as murder or torture) and while I may eventually accept or understand, I cannot forgive such trivial acts even when compared to cases of extreme violence.. The concept of 'forgiveness', especially as a mode of thinking, as a way of life, baffles me. It is easy to understand why one would ask for forgiveness, but to give it seems to be an extraordinary and rare humane act. Or is it, as some argue, a weakness; a denial of reality, a withdrawal into a bubble of self-contentment?

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 16:53:28 BDT
Garscadden says:
I would say that forgiveness is knowing you were somehow 'wronged', but not wishing to seek justice for that for various possible reasons, including:
i) an acceptance that justice in this case would not make the world a better place, and lack of it would not make the world a worse place.
ii) a view that justice in this case is not possible, just revenge, and not seeking revenge.

I think it is easier to forgive those who have wronged us than to ask others to forgive.

Obviously this opens discussions of what is meant by 'wronged' and 'justice'...

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 16:58:20 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:02:38 BDT
Anita says:
"I think it is easier to forgive those who have wronged us than to ask others to forgive."

It can hardly be truer than that in my opinion.

(It's actually very stupid to post just to say "I very much agree", but it did ring very true, hence whatever, just wanted to say)

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 17:03:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jul 2014 17:12:55 BDT
Withnail says:
Anybody else know the Willie Nelson song "Forgiving you is easy, but forgetting seems to take the longest time".

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 17:09:05 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:13:22 BDT
Anita says:
Spin - if you ever tried to admit your wrongness or your fault, or hurting someone, and to genuinely ask someone to forgive you, you'd learn that it's a lot more difficult than to forgive someone else.

Maybe you do ask for forgiveness in your real life for what I know, but you never do on a forum, that's why I say so. And no, it is not easier and it is not easy

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:20:35 BDT
"I think it is easier to forgive those who have wronged us than to ask others to forgive."

I think the opposite is more true. I think to forgive someone for what they have done involves some level of understanding as to why they did it which can be difficult to begin with as their justification may just not be good enough to you, 'letting go' and moving on from that action, and not using it against that person in future. I think it'd be incredibly difficult to 100% forgive someone, there would always be that memory in the back of your mind.

I don't think that forgiveness as a request is asked for, well I don't think so for minor things - the "please forgive me" seems to come with more serious 'offences'. Imo an "I'm sorry" tends to come with the assumption that the other person will accept that and forgive you, and by that apology you've done your part as it were. Even more so when it comes with the reverse psychology style spiel of "I know you could never forgive me..."

Definitely think asking for forgiveness is a lot easier than actually giving it.

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 17:28:29 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:36:21 BDT
Anita says:
I'd disagree for one simple reason (among others which let's just leave for now).

1. Forgiving someone you may feel a good person, also to expect forgiveness from others, forgiving someone makes you feel good or, at least, better. It doesn't mean to forget. Memory is given for you to accumulate experience, among other things. If you can remember *and* forgive, that is a big thing. (Would you please add "in my opinion" after nearly every sentence?)

2. To ask for forgiveness is to admit you did something wrong, you hurt someone, you were not a very good person (et cetera). And to admit one's flaws - to admit them to someone else, not just self - that is a lot more difficult. I think.

Obviously I'm not talking about any kind of "please forgive me" show. But as someone who has done both, I do think that to forgive is easier.

On a lighter note - a joke: someone (don't remember who) once said that happiness is good health and bad memory. Which is obviously not true, but sometimes makes me smile :)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:37:12 BDT
"what is the nature of this mental attitude you folk call 'Forgiveness'"

I know forgivness more as a 'letting go' style affair. Accepting you can't change what was done. Letting go of the negative emotions attached to the wrong that was done to you and also, as Garscadden says, no longer seeking 'justice' or 'revenge' against a person for that action. Imo it also has a side-effect whereby if you forgive a person for what they did (someone who is genuinely remorseful over it) then that means they can also let go of the negative feelings they have over what they did.

I think forgiveness does good to both parties if offered/carried out. It allows both sides to let go of the anger, sadness, regret, worry, stress, bitterness etc the destructive emotions that eat away and can free them from the emotional ties (which may impact on other aspects of their life) of an action that can't be changed.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:40:21 BDT
"(Would you please add "in my opinion" after nearly every sentence?)"

Is that a joke ??

Aside from that, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. There is nothing else that can be said imo ;)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:40:44 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:43:38 BDT
Dan Fante says:
Can you answer the question?

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 17:44:02 BDT
Anita says:
I wouldn't say forgiveness is "letting go". I'd say it's admitting the wrong (admitting that someone hurt you for example) and accepting someone's need to be forgiven. Not wanting that other person to suffer. Something like that.

Just forgiving and forgiving all without any sort of understanding doesn't help anyone to do better. I think.

(I almost gave an example from the Godfather, but for the sake of Spin I won't :) )

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:46:05 BDT
Anita says:
Yeah, hello, Spin up for a spinnism. When you don't understand what's being said, you'd rather throw an insult, just in case. Don't you.

Remind me next time to not even start talking to you

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:49:17 BDT
Anita says:
Amen to that, Chief

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:50:30 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:53:58 BDT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 17:55:07 BDT
Dan Fante says:
Pain, why would you expect us lowly folk to be able to answer a question a colossal intellectual like yourself struggles with? That's sarcasm, by the way. My point is, you're picking apart people's answers (as is your wont) yet you've admitted in your 2nd post in this thread (in as many words) that you don't have the answer yourself or understand the concept. This is one of the reasons why people find it difficult to engage with you. You're a hypocrite who demands standards in others you yourself don't, won't and/or can't keep. But I forgive you.

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 20:36:16 BDT
Islam teaches you to forgive your family and where possible not to reject them. Forgiveness of complete strangers is incomprehensible to me. You could pardon someone, in the way one does if people bump into each other on the street and say 'sorry' and the other person says 'that's OK'. But forgiveness is an emotional thing, where no emotion existed in the first place. I don't think it makes sense.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 20:56:14 BDT
Garscadden says:
I don't think it is an emotional thing. Or rather, the few times i have felt i have forgiven someone who has caused harm to those i care about, it hasn't been an emotional act, it has been a fairly cold realisation that 'calling to account' would serve no purpose, that the person in question meant no harm, that it was wrong time wrong place or similar etc...

Maybe that I would have done the same thing, or wished i was never put in the situation the other person was in. As fairy worshippers are won't to say 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'.

Another aspect is those time when you realise that someone has done something bad, but they also have to live with the consequences, and ultimately that things may be worse for them.

Maybe forgiveness is just a form of compassion. Which may explain why the thread starter has no concept of it.

Posted on 9 Jul 2014 21:02:22 BDT
Garscadden says:
"I think it is easier to forgive those who have wronged us than to ask others to forgive."

I didn't just mean asking for forgiveness, or even primarily. it was more around asking someone to forgive a third party. But yeah, asking for forgiveness, not simply as a getting off lightly exercise, but as a fundamental desire to be forgiven for something you have done, knowing the hurt and anguish caused. It isn't easy, I don't think. Maybe that is down to personal morality though :)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2014 21:04:14 BDT
"C. E. Statham says:
Islam teaches you to forgive your family"

http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2009/06/21/honor-killing-in-afghanistan-father-kills-his-daughter-and-her-lover.html
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Discussion in:  religion discussion forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  94
Initial post:  9 Jul 2014
Latest post:  15 Jul 2014

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