Re: [xmca] Forgiveness

From: Carol Macdonald (
Date: Wed Oct 25 2006 - 09:59:05 PDT

Hi Eric
Sorry to pop up so soon again. Sure, it is the greatest gift. I think that
forgiving and being forgiven are actually dynamic processes, and if things
are deep enough, it has to be an *iterative process*. With intense pain, one
cannot simply will it away, so have to keep working on it, and work with
one's own pain rather than focusing out to the person you hurt you. If you
hurt somebody very badly, it can cause acute embarrassment in an ongoing
relationship where the hurt person would rather put them self out of reach
so that such a thing might not happen again. Here we have a funny saying
which is a euphemisn. "I forgive you, but I need a bit of space for a
while." and that usually turn out to be forever.(Does that equal your
understanding of apathy?) I think the secret is to treat everybody with deep
courtesy most of the time, and so the "habit" of courtesy can be brought out
when there might have been an ugly confrontation.

My domestic helper says I never get angry, but she gets frightened from the
remnants of her fraught history (working on a farm with Afrikaans people).
Recently she bleached a new suit of mine by mistake, and was sure that I
would let her go: I had to reassure her that such a thing would never
happen. The rule in our house is that only only thing that is taken
seriously is death. (Do you smell an animal lover?) Everything else can be
laughed off.

The habit of forgiveness must be just that. If we practice our religious
beliefs strongly enough, then the habit of forgiveness must be automatic.
What the Amish people doing was due to such a strong sense of community.(A
formidable one.) Inviting the wife in was an act of reconciliation. Just
imagine what that wife has to take away with her: an act of real healing.
She doesn't have to fear all the time and do action reruns forever into the

We had an occasion like that here the end of apartheid. An American student
ill advisedly into a tense township situation. And she was attacked, and
died a little later in the police station. Her parents came out from the US
and met the perpetrators and forgave them, and are now actively involved in
the community, and have established a scholarship in her name.

Then we have a wonderful woman whose son was killed in a church massacre in
1993. The people where shot by a freedom fighter group. Because of her faith
she has been able to forgive them (although the pain is obviously still
there.) She has met with one of the killers, and now they talk to people as
a pair, about the terrible history we have had, and how we need to forgive
each other for what has happened as a result of our history. They is a truly
astonishing ministry.
This feels like a rather odd conversation to have on XMCA. I didn't use any
technical terms even. So, Mike, please censor if necessary.

On 10/24/06, <> wrote:
> Forgiveness is the greatest gift one can give to another. It is not
> always
> possible and sometimes not accepted by the person being forgiven.
> At what point does forgiveness become apathy?
> Great question. Greater minds then mine have wrapped their synapses round
> this issue but I do truely believe there is no greater gift than the gift
> of true forgiveness.
> eric
> "Mike Cole"
> <lchcmike who-is-at gmail. To: "eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity"
> com> <>
> Sent by: cc:
> xmca-bounces who-is-at web Subject: [xmca] Forgiveness
> 10/22/2006 11:06
> PM
> Please respond
> to mcole; Please
> respond to
> "eXtended Mind,
> Culture,
> Activity"
> OK-- So here is another topic. Any help out there greatly appreciated.
> In my household the topic of forgiveness is a burning issue. There are a
> lot
> of sources.
> First, we have had a visit from a friend who has had a stroke and whose
> husband has left her
> and she is in deep pain.
> Second, we have been reading about the Amish parents in Pennsylvania who
> put
> aside, so far as
> we can tell, the unbelievable anger and pain they must have experienced,
> and
> have forgiven the man
> who killed their children, welcomed his wife into their community, and
> (again, so far as we can tell,
> for-given him his unforgivable (it would seem) trespasses.
> Third, there is fiction brewing locallly that involves a mother and
> daughter
> who are in conflict where the
> mother has transgressed the law seriously and the daughter is living with
> the consequences.
> So what does anyone on this amazing list of people have to counsel us
> about
> forgiveness, No eye for
> a tooth. What makes it possible? Legitimate? Forgivable, to forgive
> someone
> for causing unspeakable
> pain?
> This is all at the more or less personal/interpersonal level. I am well
> aware that there are macro versions of these
> questions that deserve all the attention we can give them, but up close
> and
> personal. --When is forgiveness possible
> and forgivable?
> Help please
> mike
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