Thursday, September 8, 2005

Forgiveness part 2

The Forgiveness Project includes a powerful collection of stories that witness to the way in which forgiveness leads to spiritual freedom. These stories also remind us that forgiveness is a process. When we have been harmed, our first response is often (rightly) one of anger. Our anger serves as an assertion of our human dignity and re-establishes boundaries that have been violated. It is here, however, that a crucial decision must be made.

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the Dalai Lama urged us to seek causes, rather than blame. Will our anger provide the energy to search for causes, leading to understanding and the possibility of reconciliation and resolution? Or will it remain stuck on blame, clinging to resentment for days, months, years . . . a lifetime? That is the choice we must make. Will we search for causes, or blame? Seeking causes, we can move into the process of forgiveness and reconciliation. We can move beyond being defined by the dynamic of perpetrator and victim. Choosing blame, we remain stuck in our victimization, becoming almost dependent upon the perpetrator for our identity, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said.

Blame keeps us trapped in resentment, trapped in the past. Seeking causes leads to forgiveness and opens up a way into the future. That way isn't easy. Sometimes it feels impossible. But Jesus invites us to follow him there, a journey of discovering depths of compassion and possibilities for reconciliation that mark the dawn of the kingdom of heaven with us and amoung us.


Preston said...

I can understand your emphasis on discovering causes, and not jumping straight to blame - blame being a word with a negative emotional tone to it.

But it seems to me that Matthew's gospel takes the action of approaching the one who offends very seriously, going so far to offer a kind of system for doing it - "if one should offend you, take him aside privately," etc (Mt 18:15-20). Is there no room for sometimes doing something that looks like blaming, as a first step to reconciliaiton? Perhaps by naming directly the offense that someone has perpetrated against you?

It seems to me, that in many situations, we can hardly even get to causes without first naming the offense.

Catherine said...

I am an INFP priest and I'm having a conflict with my friend, an INFJ. She's a priest but will not consider reconciliation though I suggested we needed to do that if we were to have any individual peace or fulfill the heart of our faith: confession, forgiveness and reconciliation. I am at a loss as to how to proceed. Any ideas?