A former legislator who was decidedly against “gay marriage” and accused of looting taxpayers by lavish spending to make his office look like Downton Abbey has now come out as gay and is thanking LGBTQ activists for their good work but his family didn’t invite him home for Easter. Here comes responses like anger, scorn, retribution and forgiveness.
People are complicated. People have mixed emotions and irrational thoughts. People in recovery from addictions often hate themselves for what they have done, even more, sometimes, than the people they have wronged. Jews can be anti-Semitic. People of color can be racist. Survivors of abuse often internalize the aggressor, taking their side. The will to live coexists with self-destructive tendencies. Survivors experience guilt concurrent with gratitude. People often find it harder to forgive themselves than to forgive others ~ while others condemn people for things they do and have done themselves. The “devil” sits on one shoulder whispering sweet and assuring words in one ear while the “angel” does the same in the other.
Jesus says forgive them seventy times seven. The Buddha talks about the Second Arrow. The first one hurts. The second one is the constant ruminating over the first. At what point do you let go? Should you? Is forgiveness sometimes a copout? Must you, should you hold-out for the offender to ask for forgiveness and make restitution as a precondition to forgiveness? Can you still forgive when such a precondition will not come? What do you think?
Dwight Lee Wolter