Friday, May 19, 2006

Why do we forgive

I always had a rather weird relationship with forgiving. When I was a kid I was very selfish, I used to think that my elder brother’s devilish and that he’ll go to hell when we die, I used to feel that I can’t always forgive him, that he never really regrets his actions I thought and most of all I didn’t see all the times in which he was forgiving me especially that I was never apologizing for my mistakes.

However, when I grew up forgiveness felt so awkward to me. All of a sudden forgiving became absurd. Of course being a Christian made a difference. From the bible, I understood I read:

Forgive and you shall be forgiven

So I supposed that I ought to forgive and that wasn’t really a problem. But then who am I to forgive anyone. I have my mistakes and I am not better than others. And besides, no one ever hurts me, I am not sure why but I never found the evil that so many people preach against, at least not among humans.

Hurt was the mere contradiction of interests. So if someone hurts me in order to prevent me from getting something because s/he wants that thing. In this situation isn’t this person doing its best to preserve its interests? Maybe in my idealistic mind I wouldn’t accept to achieve anything like that, but let’s face it, I can’t expect everyone to live there lives like I live mine; and besides, my idealistic mind doesn’t always prevail. It’s absurd to expect people to work for my interest!

Sometimes we DO hurt others and simply because we are jealous of them. But come on! That’s only human, I’ve seen jealous people in action and they are still just as human after there act as they were before. I can’t imagine having a grudge toward someone because of that.

I do feel that I hate people sometimes, but it never lasts long. Usually sweet social interaction is much more rewarding then the so called making them pay or even knowing I’ve been hurt, and letting them know that I know that they hurt me. That’s stupid! This is all in our heads, each and every action done against us is the result of a complex web of events.

That’s how I felt for a long time now. Basing my perspective on that I radically refused apologies, I don’t want people to apologise for me, I’d apologise to others (that doesn’t often happen, I usually just act extra nice in a way to pass the message, apologising is so damn hard!) but I don’t want them to come to me, humiliate themselves and say that did me wrong and that they are here to apologise.

To say the truth, it’s not all about the idealism of the thought. You see I, somehow, felt that I can’t forgive. What’s forgiving anyway, I know for sure that it isn’t forgetting (I never forget anything whether it’s good or bad), and I know that it isn’t just saying: yeah I forgive you , it’s certainly an inner feeling; but what feeling? Feeling that I have no grudge against that person? That’s not strictly forgiving, feelings often change with needs many people say that they have forgiven that person while in fact they just had some sort of need that could be satisfied with that person. I came to a conclusion that maybe forgiving is simply to feel regaining the old feelings toward someone after a certain transgression took place. But I still didn’t like to call this forgiveness. I just believed that word to be too much about display of dominance. I just stopped thinking about it there, whatever it is I don’t want apologies and forgiveness is overrated.

A week ago I read in “Cerveau & Psycho” about this same subject and among other things they said:

« … Le pardon s’enclenche lorsqu’un lien d’empathie suffisant a été restauré entre la victime et l’offenseur. Si l’offenseur vient expliquer son geste, s’excuser, ou simplement demander le pardon de l’autre, il établit l’équilibre d’une relation … »

To translate it :
“… Forgiveness takes place when a sufficient link of empathy is restored between the victim and the offender. If the offender explains his action, apologises, or simply asks for forgiveness, he restores a balance in the relationship…”

I felt so good to read that! It actually gave me peace. Since I decided to revisit all the values of the bible in order to make my own judgment, I was came to realize that almost all the bible’s value aim to help humans be happier, if you love for example you feel good. And somehow forgiving in itself seemed inconsistent with that philosophy. The article also gave a definition of forgiveness:

“Le pardon est le fait de vaincre son ressentiment envers un offenseur, non pas en niant son droit à ce ressentiment, mais en s’efforçant de considérer l’offenseur avec bienveillance, compassion et même amour, tout en sachant que cet offenseur, par son attitude, a renoncé à son droit à un tel comportement… »

Translation :

« Forgiving is to overcome the feeling of resentment toward an offender, not by denying one’s right to feel that resentment, but by endeavouring to look at the offender with benevolence, compassion and even love, without forgetting that the offender, through his attitude, gave away his right to be treated that way…”

Suddenly I came to realize, while reading this article, how beneficial forgiving is for me, and I was right I have forgiven people in my life, not always because they have hurt me, but because there were times when I felt hurt, and then I got along with my life and gave away those feelings in order to feel better about myself, and to regain the sweet feeling that I have when I interact with that person. I have always forgiven others, not because I am good, but because it serves me well. And I feel so much better. So Jesus was right to tell us to forgive!


jokerman said...

that was deep!
But hurt through interests is understandable, but when it is someone denying you what is your right, its another thing altogether.
Thank you for translating the french bits.

still breathing said...

a quote i once read was that forgiveness is like the perfume a flower leaves on the shoe that crushed it.

i beleieve that the forgiver is the 1st one on the benefit list. he is always in a good mental health.

btw, i'm in science faculty, biology dep. like u :)

Pazuzu said...

Well I didn't go into the details of the purpose of hurt, I made a summary of how I saw it, there were a decent mention of that in the article but I didn't want the post to be any longer :P.

Still breathing:
Yes, forgiveness is all about giving ourselves a favor.
Wow, so you're a biology student too? do you get to choose a specialisation too? In lebanon, on the 3rd year we choose either animal branch or plants branch (not sure if that's the way to express it in english though).

still breathing said...

we do have specializtion after the 2nd year too but we have more departments.

there is:
3-entomology (7shrat)
4-zoology (7ywan)
5-botany (nabat)

u either specialize in any of them or in any of them plus chemistry.

there is also a new dep for microbiology and biochemistry together.

Pazuzu said...

Wow Awesome! I would have loved going to such a college, I think the same goes in private universities but not the nationnal university. Actually our section (in Fanar) is the only that preserves all the 3 branches, in other places it's just the physiology option that's preserved.