Redemption - Is Anyone Beyond it? (A Bottom up Approach)
Yes/no/maybe? My partner said it depends on who it is.
We were discussing forgiveness. She said forgiveness is not an excuse for someone to repeat the harm done or harm, to begin with. She went on to paraphrase our pastor who said it's honourable [and wise] to forgive but it's not acceptable to take forgiveness for granted and then use this as an excuse to continue the bad behaviour. For example, the wrongdoer might say, "oh you'll forgive me so I'll do X." I think forgiveness doesn't mean there are no consequences for the wrongdoer's actions. There has to be (though I believe not always proportionate to the harm done). I think, the larger one's capacity for forgiveness the smaller one's capacity for harm. "To forgive is divine," comes to mind, a quote by the reverend in Postman Pat The Movie; my son's favourite (most watched movie of his little life). This was real time-tested today... when a driver hit my car. I was waiting at the lights when I felt a nudge from behind. He'd hit the back of my car, I hardly flinched (though internally it was a different story). I just sat and observed the driver through my rear view miror. He seemed very occupied with something out of my view, below the top of his steering wheel. Questions rushed my mind: was he on his mobile phone when he nudged me? What actually happened? Was he aware of what just happened? Should I get out of my car? Should I wait for him to get out? Shall I ignore it? And on... I'm sure the driver was wriggling in his seat, itching for the lights to turn green and desperately waiting to escape from view without any confrontation. If I were him I'd probably wish my chair would swallow me up. So why didn't I do something? Well, there's a number of reasons.... ▫The nudge was hardly noticeable ▫I had plans ▫ I was waiting for the lights to change ahead of a long line of traffic at a busy crossroads ▫ My 2 years old son was with me Or was I being a coward? Is the right thing to do to stand on a principle. The principle that what he'd done was wrong and I needed to right that wrong? Or at least confront it and acknowledge to him what he'd done.
I don't particularly like confrontation, I prefer mediation and conciliation. And my only mediator was my toddler son lol. So judged it not worth it. It wasn't practical, although when is a car accident ever practical? I didn't believe any damage had been done, and if any, it was minuscule. The real reason I don't think I acted was because I'd been the wrongdoer in a similar incident on two occasions. In fact, with a tad more nudging involved than today. How did both drivers respond back then? They both overlooked the fault and it was totally my fault. Of course, not much was at stake, as in both instances (like today) all cars weren't marked. Still, as my partner pointed out, for some drivers, including her friend, such instances would be perceived as a serious offence that deserved retribution. Simply for the victim to feel gratified. Even if that retribution led to lashing out and consequently belittling the wrongdoer in the street. I think this motive for retribution is not so much motivated by the fact their car has been damaged, I couldn't see any damage done to my car. No, it's much more likely to be motivted by the fact that they've been hit by another driver, damage or no damage.We could argue that my example's just a car accident, not a real offence. Certainly not a crime. Thieves or rapists don't steal or force someone to have sex with them by accident unlike hitting the back of a car. What would happen however if the victims of these perpetrators forgave them and sought reconciliation instead of retribution? I think forgiveness, as in my above example, can have a knock-on effect. I'm not saying it's highly unlikely that I'll hit another car again. And I'm not saying a thief will never steal again. Although both (my car bumping) experiences have caused me to be more thankful (and more cautious). They've also taught me to not give up faith in humanity. I reckon forgiveness can release the wrongdoer from shame and guilt - like the driver wriggling in his seat. As in my example when I nudged someone else's car, after speaking with the driver I felt so much better than before I spoke with them. From dread, which peaked when the driver got out of their car to confront (or talk to) me, to relief when they released me without reprimand. Though I didn't confront the driver who knocked my car, I think he was relieved I didn't.
Above all, it taught me that if I can be forgiven a slight, it would be unfair not to forgive others for the same slight.
Guest contributor: Allan (explored the subject matter with me)