By MeL Scribe, Australia
The world is in need of forgiveness, now more than ever. In times of crisis, one’s first instinct is to shift the blame to someone else, or when an appropriate scapegoat is discovered, all eyes and hatred are turn to him or her, ready to begrudge that person of everything. We are a flawed and cruel people.
The media portrays some just reasons for anger, especially in the last season of the Victorian bushfire crisis. No person can be held responsible for an earthquake, but the thirst for revenge is stirred at the news of a disaster deliberately started. It is a natural response for us to want our loved ones avenged, but this desire is not a beneficial or healthy one.
Such is the cold and harsh emotional climate in which I endeavour to reach you, my audience. Hear me out if I have lost you with my first two paragraphs. Each and every one of us makes mistakes or bad decisions over both trivial and important matters at some point in our lives. Some of these foibles are more significant than others, but all of us have fallen short nevertheless. We are as guilty as Eve who bit into the forbidden fruit.
Yet there is room for us to show the better side of our character. Each of us has the capability to be a considerate, self-disciplined citizen of a loving world—if we would only try. A world where no one is ostracised, excluded, ignored or rejected. Why bother? You ask me. Why should I be nice to everyone around me, even toward those whom I don’t like? Because we can make this wretched world a better place in ways beyond our wildest imagination. And you, yes, you, have that power just by choosing to make the right decision. You have the power in your words and your actions to make someone’s day. You could choose to smile and show appreciation to the person at the supermarket checkout, or the bus driver who brings you to where you need to be, or the boss who pays you every month so you have money to spend. You have the power to positively rock their world. What a great privilege!
But even my enemies? You think. Yes, even your enemies. In fact, your enemies will be the first people to notice the change in your attitude. Initially they may be wary of you and suspicious of your motives, but your persistence will win them over, and eventually you will see how valuable your enemy can be to you as a friend. So what’s holding you back? Why do we refuse to improve ourselves in order to make a positive difference in this world? All of us have a need for others to recognize our identity and purpose as an agent of change; a desire of ours is to make the world we live in a better place.
One of the things that may be stopping you could be pride. Why should I treat my enemies with mercy and forgiveness when they started the war against me? If anyone should make peace, it should be them, not me! They’ll think me weak and susceptible to attack; like a doormat they’ll wipe their feet all over me! Not a chance. But I tell you, that may not be true. At the end of it, they will see you a strong and determined individual for the worthy cause of a peacemaker.
Another thing holding your forgiveness back could be pain. You think that they have done you an unforgivable wrong, and your imaginary wound is still smarting from the hurt they have dealt you. In a short story I’ve written, Sandra has a clear reason for not wanting to forgive her enemies, but still the Captain trained her, or hoped to teach her the lesson on forgiveness. Was it too much of him to ask that of them? Perhaps to you it was, but let me explain the Captain’s demands from his point of view. He asked them to forgive the ruthless pirates not just because he needed them alive when the ship reached the port, but he knew that if they never let go of their hatred, they were never recover from their loss and would hence grant their enemies a victory from the agonizing invisible wounds remaining in their heart. (Look out for this story in my future post!)
By refusing to let go of the past pain, you would be allowing the enemies to achieve their goals. You would be granting those enemies a victory over you by letting your past hinder your present and control your future!
Forgive and forget, unless you want to grant them this satisfaction. It takes time, but it is possible.