Learning the art of forgiveness

2008-06-16 00:00

I have two colleagues that had a monumental fall-out over a senseless misunderstanding and haven’t spoken to each other since the Rinderpest. Somehow the conflict was never resolved and grew in momentum into a large rumbling, galactic Earth tremor. I’m wedged in-between them — way beyond being able to budge the deep, dark chasm. It would require a miracle or a bizarre twist of fate.

I also know of a mother and daughter who reached a grid-lock on communication. Neither would pick up the phone to make the apology. Both felt wounded and were wallowing in a deluge of smug anger. Silence prevailed until Princess Diana died. Sharing the macabre and commiserating together re-united the two Royalists. I’m not sure why someone has to die before people can reach reconciliatory levels. Maybe if she hadn’t died tragically, they’d still be in mute mode.

“No speaks” seems to be propelled by inner pride, which leads to a deadlock on any form of negotiation or compromise. I really can’t quite get my head around anyone being too proud to stand down.

For me, people are like books. They can be taken off the shelf, tenderly paged through and revered. And some may live on the bedside table, to be handled so regularly that they never get so much as catalogued.

I always told my children that there was a great difference between the person and the deed. One can dislike it if one’s child is naughty, but that doesn’t amount to disliking the child. So if one’s ego is dented by another’s folly, it just makes the whole thing snowball to gargantuan proportions if one can’t have a hand-shaking declaration of apology and forgiveness. It’s to do with dispersing the negative energy via the conjoined hands, which are intrinsically the conduits of the soul.

Maybe I’m just born fortunate. Forgiveness runs big in my veins. One school I taught at once called me “the last stop”. Everyone was ready to tell the delinquent child to go and play in the traffic, while I was still idealistically trying to rescue and forgive him for his misdemeanour. I tried to gauge the scenario systemically to ascertain what propelled the child’s oppositional behaviour, instead of outright condemning it. May-be that will come in handy as I start my job in New Zealand as apparently there’s a high rate of suicide ideation among adolescents.

I find it interesting that world religions all have forgiveness as a central tenet, and yet forgiveness is what humans have difficulty with. In Buddhism, em-phasis is made of loving kind- ness, compassion, sympathetic joy and composure to avoid experiencing resentment in the first place. In Christianity, forgiveness is part of peacemaking, as well as reconciling with God and humanity. In Hinduism reparation for wrongdoing can result after asking for forgiveness. Prayaschitt, which is similar to karma, is the effects of one’s deeds on one’s own and on others’ lives. Islam teaches that forgiveness needs some repentance from those asking for forgiveness, while Judaism teaches that if the person is sincere in his or her apology for hurting one, one is obliged to forgive. From a medical perspective, it is proven that people who forgive are healthier than those who hold on to anger. From a psychological perspective, forgiveness is perceived to be a process. It cannot happen instantaneously as it requires emotional healing to occur.

I believe that forgiveness is the only positive outcome of any two-way conflict. There are great people like Nelson Mandela who have the capacity to forgive heinous acts. But smaller burdens can more easily be lifted when both parties review their egos. An inability to forgive is a tragic indictment on the self, which I imagine can only reflect elements of fear, prejudice and vulnerability.

What a great world it would be if we all trusted and forgave more, and shook hands more often. And my two colleagues …

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.