Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Whitholding Forgiveness

Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. Wow! How cool! How thought provoking and how so very true. I know it, I feel it, when I feel hurt, victimized, wounded to the depths of my soul, wronged, not understood or appreciated, that’s pain enough. But to compound it by seeking vengeance and punishment of the ‘evil’ doer and not letting go of my pain until such vengeance is exacted, is just as painful to me as the initial ‘wrong’, if not more so. That’s ‘eye for an eye’ thinking, primitive and something I pride myself on evolving past. It’s outside-in thinking, instead of inside-out. It makes me a powerless victim instead of a potent actor.

I ‘know,’ intellectually, that each time I feel victimized, wounded or offended, I am literally giving my inner power away to a seemingly real outside cause. It is, in fact, using that inner power to make that outside cause appear real. I know in my sane, calmer moments that whatever seems to be going on ‘out there’ is a pigment of my imagination. Oh, there may be something really, physically going on, but what does it mean? Who gives it meaning, me, Glenn Beck, the Miami Herald, my synagogue or church, my spouse, parents or family, History or Economics? Who makes it offensive and threatening to me? Who decides that that event victimizes me? Isn’t that my choice? It’s up to me to decide what something means. I can take all those sources into consideration, but bottom line, I perceive, I interpret, I assign meaning and live with the consequences.

So it’s all me, there’s no one to ‘blame’ but me. Yeah, but things are happening, people do do bad things, there are evil doers and there is an outer reality, a reality greater than me or my interpretation.

Up to a point, what’s ‘out there’ is consensus reality, a reality agreed upon by our culture, not ‘true’ reality. Remember when consensus reality held that the earth was flat and if you sail to far, you’ll fall off? For 3,000 years, that ‘reality’ kept people from sailing ‘too far’ whatever that was, out of sight of land, and discovering an even greater reality. What used to be evil, using telescopes, conducting autopsies, accepting strangers and people different from us, is, for most civilized people, no longer considered evil.

I said there’s no one to blame but me. Why ‘blame’ anybody? Doesn’t blaming suggest some fixed perspective, some absolute, unchanging perspective and understanding like the earth is flat? Of course there are things that we don’t want done like rape, murder, theft, but we don’t want them done, that’s the point.

The point is not to ‘blame,’ the point is to not have those things done. Is blaming and punishing the best way to do that? Do blaming and punishing restore the rape, murder or robbery victims? The trick is for you and I and our society to figure out how to get what we want and stop what we don’t want without misusing our inner power. We do so much blaming and punishing, feel like wounded victims so often, that if this way of being, of seeing the world and using our inner power worked wouldn’t we have a better society?

What if we, you and I, I, really took responsibility for myself, for my judgments, perceptions and interpretations, stopped feeling like a wounded victim needing to blame and punish and instead used my inner power, the same inner power you have and the so-called ‘evil doer’ has, to see things differently, to stop thinking the world is flat, and find some other way, a better way, a way of using our inner power responsibly to build a round world, more in line with our hopes and aspirations? What would happen then? Would we be sailing to far out, would we fall off? All the greatest guides we’ve ever had, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi and Martin Luther King say not. Their lives and writings say, sail on, take responsibility and have the courage to stop blaming, being victim and victimizer, and discover a new and better world.

Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.

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