Every day on Facebook I post a ”Thought For The Day”. More often than not they evoke some genuine heartfelt responses. Here is an example from a regular reader of this blog. Stephen Tardrow:
‘There is nothing more destructive than the inability to forgive. Especially yourself’.
My thoughts and answer to John’s question:
Like most statements it needs to be qualified. It all hinges upon the degree of freedom people have and how determined their realities are. These are deep philosophical questions. The fact that much of reality is determined is pretty much standard fair in science while the degrees of freedom in subjective space gives us the capacity to reason and judge particular circumstances. Problem is many of our judgments are loaded with subjective prejudice so how to deal with that?
Rather than judgment, blame and retribution it may be much more useful to see responsibility as consequences for actions and those consequences are the legal norms fabricated by any society. Forgiveness often comes through active demonstrations of remorse and changed behaviours. If one is disturbed then the idea of forgiveness may seem at odds with ones aberrant thought process in which forgiveness has no substantive meaning. For others we are well aware of our shortcomings and capacity to do harm and will strive to make recompense for our aberrant behaviour and thus find forgiveness in self and others. In that sense forgiveness is a relative set of defined consequences for actions and strategies to find forgiveness in the hearts and minds of others. It becomes incredibly complex when social norms are culturally relative and not universal.
In the absolute sense of value free detached observation people do not create their realities and can be forgiven, self and others, regardless however this does not deny the necessity for value implicit consequences. For me personally everyone is forgiven absolutely yet responsible for relative actions. As we understand for antisocial and psychosocial personalities there is no such thing as guilt and remorse and they definitely need constraining because forgiveness is going to get us nowhere.
If we utilise consequences for actions we do not have to hate or want to directly harm a person we simply have legal consequences that must be adhered too. To understand forgiveness one literally has to overcome anger and the need for retribution while tracing out the causal contributors to dysfunction and designated consequences for actions. Talking about punishment is meaningless to those who have no guilt or remorse due to biochemical insufficiencies or disturbed life experience.
Given that forgiving yourself and loving yourself go hand in hand with loving and forgiving others.
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