Forgiving and Forgetting
Religion has long been at the forefront of preaching the concept of broad-stroked forgiveness. Some of my youth was begrudgingly spent listening to sermons in church about the importance and “necessity” of forgiving. “We must forgive.” No matter who has wronged us and what they have done. Christianity constantly talks about how people must forgive because Jesus was about forgiving. The Quran has multiple references to Allah being merciful and forgiving. Within the texts of the Baha’i faith, Abdu’l-Bahá, son of founder Bahá’u’lláh is quoted as having said “If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.”
Forgiving may help some people as part of their healing process. Forgiving can be letting go of the past in order to make things good for the future. Everyone has probably forgiven someone at least once in their lifetime.
Even so, it is not an absolute requirement.
Ask any victim of crime. I’ve been one. A great many will never forgive those who wronged them. I sure wouldn’t. It disturbs me that there are people who are so insistent on the forgiveness idea that they expect victims of sex offences to forgive their assailants. The idea that loved ones of someone who was murdered should forgive the person who took away someones life, is so outrageous to me. It is something I will perhaps never understand.
A person also does not have to forgive someone for wronging them just because they are family. Those people lose the right to be referred to as family. Especially when it is crystal clear you have been hurt by people you are supposedly placing maybe the greatest trust in.
Friends and colleagues have shared some of these stories with me. Some have said “I will have to forgive eventually”. There is no hesitation when I tell them forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness never is, and never should be, an absolute requirement.