March 12th 2006

copyright don oddy

~ forgiveness and consequences ~

When we experience loss through tragic circumstances, our grieving process is simple and complicated. Simple because the grieving process can be easily understood, complicated because each of us goes through the process our own way.

In recent months, the idea that forgiveness is good for us has become more and more popular in the media and with people who think they are in the know when it comes to human doings.

With terrorism a feature of modern life, religious and fanatical beliefs pushing individuals to extremes of view, our world has become violent and full of tragedy.

People feel anger and loss, people are dying and people want those responsible brought to justice. We have seen terror evolve quickly and everyone who hears, sees, and has lost relatives, friends and acquaintances feels consequences.

One major consequence is the notion of forgiving those who have wronged us. The idea is for anyone to move on with their lives, they need to forgive in order to let go resentments and hatred with impact negatively.

Anyone who has experienced loss, grief and sought to forgive realises that the process is extremely difficult.

A recent example in the UK is a Vicar whose daughter was killed in the London Bombings. And as a consequence she has resigned from the church because she cannot forgive the killers of her daughter.

This shows the process of grieving is long, hard and never predictable. It is a personal journey to move on with our lives. Forgiveness is a huge concept, which does not lend itself to simple process and recovery of ones senses.

When we have been wronged, and there are irrevocable outcomes, our ability to forgive is challenged to extraordinary degrees.

How can we forgive murder, how can we forgive violence, how can we forgive all the lesser shocks and losses we experience at the hands of others?

Forgiveness sets us free, there is no doubt in my own mind. But what sets us free and to what extent we forgive is another matter.

Forgiveness does not mean we forget what has happened. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we let the ones who caused us grief go free without consequences. Forgiveness is an acceptance of and understanding of the wrong and the loss we experience. Forgiveness helps us understand the circumstances, the elements that brought about our loss and what consequences will follow.

Can we forgive a murderer? Once we understand how this person turned out this way, we can comprehend. W can see the path, which led to this criminal acting in a murderous way. Can we forgive those who start wars, kill and lay to waster people and countries? We can understand how these situations came about and why. Can we forgive Saddam, his crimes against humanity and a regime, which caused great harm for decades? Again we can understand and see what led this man to do what he did.

When we get down to basic human elements and what people have done, we find that most are mentally disturbed and quite frankly are insane. We must recognise the madness of their actions, and the consequences which follow are not always about forgiving.

Consequences of crimes against humanity range from nothing through to death sentences. These are consequences, which our societies exact on wrong doers.

When we recognise that those who do murder, those who wreak war, those who resort to violence experience madness, either temporary or permanent, we start to recognise what we can forgive. We can forgive, the circumstance, we can forgive the overall situation, which enabled madness and insanity in a person or people to commit crimes against humanity.

Consequences for murder and crimes against humanity are resolute and laid down. Those who are guilty do suffer those consequences for their madness.

The process to accept and forgive remains a very personal journey. When others have suggested, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”, they rightly suggest forgiveness is often our hardest experience in life.

As I have commented many times in my own mantra,

“before I go to bed, forgive everyone everything, including myself and in the morning say ’fuck em’ till forgiveness finds its way.”

Our human condition where grief is concerned, we are forever learning. In my own world forgiveness does find its way most of the time. And when it takes me longer to get there, I do say fuck em, till I find forgiveness. And part of forgiveness is acceptance of life on life’s terms and the consequences of my own and others actions. Life is too long to hate and sometimes to short to forgive everyone everything. Unless of course we learn how to grieve our losses and move on, till the next time…