Sunday, November 27, 2011

Forgiveness is Overrated - Sometimes

In the flickering blue light of the computer, I find myself thinking of the same thing over and over. When do you forgive someone? When is forgiveness no longer an option?

Lately there are many things in the world that are occuring which many people would say should be forgiven, but others come down in a different place. When do you let someone go? What is unforgiveable? It is a matter of preference, of opinion. For many, the grudge is alive and well, sucking the life out of a person's relationships and even emotional well-being. And in some cases, perhaps things are forgiven that should not be.

Is it when a person crosses the line once too many, showing they will never change? If so, how many times does it take before it becomes impossible to forgive a person? And what if this person is your spouse? What if this person is a family member? I have a tendency to cut people off quite early. It's a habit acquired through years of systematically removing drama and complication from my life. This might work for a casual acquaintance or a friend - maybe even an employee. But for a family member? A sibling? A child? A parent? To no longer forgive strains the relationship not only with the offending party, but also those with other family members. Still, there are times when a child/parent/sibling must be disowned. The consequence is severe and hopefully matches the crime.

Spouses are something different. You choose them, binding them legally with you. There is no longer the individual, but the couple. It is a painful and horrible act to disown a spouse. Normally I would argue for working things out rather than divorcing, however there are two situations which I will always accept without question for divorce. Those are adultry and abuse.

Adultry could be forgiven. So why is this one acceptable grounds for not forgiving your spouse? The act of sleeping with someone else disrupts the identity, the sanctity of the couple within the community. The offending party has already separated him/herself from the couple, thereby becoming an individual once again. That doesn't mean some couples won't deal with it and get over it. The question just becomes, when is it too much. When is enough, enough?

Abuse, on the other hand, is always unforgiveable. Abuse of a child or other half by a spouse, of any kind, should be grounds for immediate divorce. This includes verbal. So often women ignore this, telling themselves it's just spirited fighting, he doesn't mean it etc. Sticks and stones, right? Bullshit. Words hurt. Their wounds can last a lifetime. And if children are in the mix, even if they don't receive the brunt of it, they learn this is an acceptable way to be treated and/or treat others.

In these extreme cases, the wider community becomes affected. So then, when does the extended family, and/or friends intervene? Is it okay for them to step in and 86 the offending party on behalf of the offended? Even if the victim doesn't want that? But some people must be removed from our lives. Some people must be ostracized for the health of the community when they have done the unforgiveable.

Still, when do we do that? When is something unforgiveable? I find myself in a place now where I feel strongly about how a person has treated my friend, but I am incapable of intervening. I am not the one who has been wronged, though I am impacted. For the offender, it's a good thing I'm not, because things would have turned out very differently.

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