Read the last paragraph of my original question. I clearly stated that I have a "personal philosophy" regarding this question and clearly asked how it fits in with established philosophy. In other words, what notable philosophers would agree or disagree with me. That was my question.

The only person who even attempted to answer it is Gordon...

Without a doubt Miguel de Unamuno, great philosopher of the Basque territory, staunchly Catholic, anti-fascist, and for our purposes, a lover of Europe's greatest philosopher, Don Quixote of La Mancha.

In fact, the ANSWERS push personal agendas.

It's clear what's going on here. I asked a question that's politically incorrect, a question that no one wants to answer. So if you want to close it, do it honestly. The problem isn't my question, it's the fact that no one can answer it.


When I was a teacher, I was stabbed in the back (to put it politely) by many school and union officials. I went through a period of enormous anger and frustration - as well as confusion.

Should I let my anger at these people consume me, or should I just forgive them?

Here's the catch: I wasn't their only victim. They also abused other teachers as well as parents and children.

I have thus come to feel that forgiving them would be criminal; I have a moral obligation to hate these people and do everything I can to bring them to justice.

Note: On request, I edited my question to include a few details.

By "stabbed" in the back, I'm referring to thinks like harassment, insults and threats not just from school officials but from the media and my own union. They also play games with people's files (evaluations, etc.) and paychecks. They can easily ruin people's careers and reputations. In fact, I know one teacher who was driven out of Seattle, and I know of one or two who committed suicide. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

I actively fought back, creating several political websites and running for public office several times.

Though it's pretty hard to hold the ruling class accountable, I have had some minor victories. I believe I was instrumental in getting several school officials transferred or reassigned, and one "journalist" I attacked is no longer writing about education. I've also talked to a couple public officials face to face who were very irate about "the bad things" I was saying about them on my website. And the best is yet to come. ;)

Unfortunately, it's never been more than a one-man battle, because the public ignorance, apathy (and other things) is simply unbelievable. In fact, that's what motivated me to start studying the cognitive sciences, politics, etc.; I want to figure out what makes people's minds work the way they do.

Anyway, can someone help me plug my personal philosophy regarding forgiveness into the philosophical spectrum? What great philosophers would agree or disagree with me? Is there a term for my belief?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user2953
    Sep 10 '17 at 21:38

If hatred had no point, it would not exist. Let it do its job. At the same time, our ability to manufacture our own emotions is dangerous. It separates us from appropriate emotional experience of more value.

You can look at this from the direction of Beck's cognitive-behavioral model. All emotions are of value up to the point where they begin to interfere with honest appraisal of ourselves, the world and other people. We need to be objective about our subjective investments to some reasonable degree.

If your hate is actual, and no part of it is trumped up by revisiting it constantly, you are an unusually objective person. The problem with passions in general is that they draw us to amplify them artificially. And this becomes a waste of energy and a trap that distorts our perception.

Consider what passion itself does -- it provides purpose. Purpose has value. But if you increase the importance this issue has above what is natural, if you cannot overcome it, you will suffer unnaturally much. We live in a culture where genuine disappointment, grief or guilt too readily becomes depression, because we have amplified the importance of the basis of the failure or infraction over and above what it really deserves.

Believing in some sort of overall fairness, we like to think heavy emotional investment in a goal makes success sweeter in proportion to the degree it makes failure painful. But overall, we are wrong about that. For a very short time, this seems true. But glory is by nature quite brief, and if it is not warranted, it tails into depression because in succeeding we have lost the goal, to which we have attributed value and made an attachment.

So it behooves us to have a range of passions, and not to artificially inflate some and neglect others, so that when those pass away, there is only completion and not loss. Don't be consumed by anything that does not naturally consume you.

  • "We need to be objective about our subjective investments to some reasonable degree." Yes, one of my favorite words is BALANCE. "If you cannot overcome it, you will suffer unnaturally much." That's true in general, but I've come to see that it isn't always true. Think about mountain climbers who challenge mountains others consider impossible. It can obviously be incredibly exciting. Believe it or not, going where no one else has gone before in the political arena can also be a thrill. Aug 23 '17 at 0:15
  • Another thought: I read a book about a nurse who worked with the dying. She said the most common complaint she heard was "I didn't live a life true to myself." In other words, people who dreamed of becoming great thinkers or doers instead wound up working in factories or grocery stores or selling insurance. Believe in a cause bigger than yourself and fighting for that cause can make life much more worthwhile. In fact, there was a point where I was almost ready to end it all, because everything I loved had been taken away from me. "What else is there to live for?" I thought. The answer? Hate. Aug 23 '17 at 0:19
  • OK, but passion and excitement are different basic emotions, the former is like anger, and the latter is like fear. Going at something that automatically balances these, that pushes back at you with 'cold' or 'deep' experiences, is different from focussing on something that is just 'hot'.
    – user9166
    Aug 23 '17 at 14:21
  • From this DBT/Epicurean direction, the idea of 'living for something' is a cultural error that causes a lot of mental illness. You should be able to just live, life itself should naturally provide enough to live for. If that comes in the form of a singular passion, it will sustain itself. But that is not how we usually do it.
    – user9166
    Aug 23 '17 at 14:24
  • 3
    You are equivocating. You interpret 'fighting for a cause' and 'living to fight for a cause' as the same thing. But the former happens in response to being affected by the cause, the latter is a decision to distort your identity. As a historically militaristic society, we expect to be raised into warriors. We like the idea of aligning with a source of power and deforming ourselves to its standards in a way that will automatically forgive ourselves a certain level of violence. Hate that is a genuine reaction has a purpose. Rehearsed, artificially shaped hate is an excuse to be less human.
    – user9166
    Aug 23 '17 at 17:54

Without a doubt Miguel de Unamuno, great philosopher of the Basque territory, staunchly Catholic, anti-fascist, and for our purposes, a lover of Europe's greatest philosopher, Don Quixote of La Mancha.

I say this because Unamuno did many good things, but most of all he loved this knight. Unamuno serves as our medium to conjure up Quixote. What was the knight defending? The age of chivalry and the injustice of its passing. His friend (the best friend anyone could have, and a great thinker in his own right) was Sancho Panza. Panza was forever urging the knight to quit the field, and his chivalry books, and to go back to his estate and live according to the custom of his rank.

Quixote, being a man of determined and noble temperament, decided to let himself be ridiculed, beat and battered around for several years, while he put up the good fight. At this point, I forget the story exactly but he was finally taken home almost at the point of death, in a terrible condition. I do think he was able to enjoy a night or an afternoon of harmless pleasure with his peasant-princess, Dulcinea.

What does this all mean? First, it probably means that Panza was the greatest philosopher that Europe ever produced, and not Don Quixote.

Second, it asks you how much are you willing to be beat around to achieve the justice you seek? You know this better than I do, and only you can decide on the course you will take. You might decide to drop it for the sake of your health, but you don't have to forgive them (some psychologists will say you should forgive, some say otherwise).

What would Unamuno say? Well he risked his life at a lecture by defending the honor of Spain against the fascists, but he was fortunate enough that Mrs. Franco, of all people!, respected him and hustled him out of the hall before he could be harmed. So this is what he did, but again what would have happened if Mrs. Franco not been there to help him?

  • 1
    Ah, Don Quijote - one of my biggest heroes. "Second, it asks you how much are you willing to be beat around to achieve the justice you seek?" Or you can look at it another way: Am I willing to let an army of scum sodomize me, my children, and the very planet we live on from cradle to grave without ever raising a fist of defiance? Sadly, most U.S. citizens - probably more than 95% - follow precisely this path. Aug 22 '17 at 5:50
  • 1
    It's an age old problem and it never gets any easier. Unamuno did a great thing, but he was lucky he had help in the end. Of course, I don't know the facts, but I wish you success no matter what you decide.
    – Gordon
    Aug 22 '17 at 5:54

Don't allow hate to consume you. That way you only extend their victory: not only have they backstabbed you; they extend the poison throughout your life.

Live your life well. Find your happiness. Don't let the past poison you - if you succeed despite them, then it's their loss.

There are few things more sad than a person achieving their life's revenge and finding themselves with life completely empty: the revenge was their sense of life, and with it done, they are an empty shell with no purpose. Don't allow that. Make your life fulfilling.

But don't forgive. By being a scourge, they lost the benefit of doubt we owe to all strangers. Scientologists use the expression "fair game". No injustice dealt to them, no malicious act, no inconvenience or harm is wrong - as long as you, or innocents don't suffer in the process.

In other words, don't make the revenge a central part of your life. Make it an enjoyable leisure time activity. Don't make sacrifices, don't waste resources or your health, don't poison yourself or people you're close to, don't take stupid risks, don't make hasty decisions. Just patiently, deliberately, purposefully, systematically, safely, keep destroying them. In your free time, as an enjoyable hobby.

  • I don't agree with everything you said, but I up voted your answer largely because of this: "In other words, don't make the revenge a central part of your life. Make it an enjoyable leisure time activity." Writing about politics and earning money from your writing is a great way to accomplish that. ;) Aug 22 '17 at 19:45

You don't hold anger against them, rather, anger holds you. Anger gives you the illusion of power over someone that caused you pain, but it's actually the exact opposite. Anger is hate and is also of the same spirit as resentment. We often become like what or who we hate. We say, "I would never do to my kids what my parents did to me" and then we do the same thing, because we become what we hate, against the entire might of our will. This is because anger controls you, you do not control it. Anger keeps you subject to the object of your hate.

If we consider power the ability to do as you please, and weakness to be the absence of power, then we should conclude that anger makes us weak, because it causes us to do things, think things, say things we would never normally do. In other words, it robs us of our power; our Will. An angry person can never be reasoned with; as such, anger is like drunkenness. There is no wisdom in anger, no love in anger and no strength in anger.

Forgiveness is where the power is. When you forgive, that spirit of anger is released and you once again have control over your life and your Will can once again be put to use. Under anger, the will is subject to the spirit of anger. You do what the anger wants, against your own best judgment, helplessly. Under forgiveness, anger is banished and you have your life back, your will back, your control back, your judgement back, your love back.

Anger is hate and there is no love in anger. Love is the absence of hate. When you forgive, you lose the anger, you lose the hate and you gain love. Anger keeps your utterly powerless. It's impossible to act according to your best judgement when you have an angry spirit.

You forgive for your own "selfish" reasons. You don't do anyone any favors by forgiving them. No one cares about your forgiveness. No one can earn your forgiveness. No one values your forgiveness the way you would want it to be valued. No. Instead, we forgive so that we can live again, be right again, be free from hate and once again be returned to our strength. We forgive to be strong, powerful, in control and abandon weakness and bondage.

Unforgiveness is a prison for your Will. Without your will, you are all but dead. Life is about the Will, and with forgiveness you have your Will back, so you have life. Hate is death and love is life. Forgiveness is the strongest move anyone can ever make in life. The difficulty comes by not recognizing the voice of your own ego, telling you that you should not forgive because the other person doesn't "deserve" it. This is a lie that the ego tells us so that it can stay in control. The ego wants to stay in control. The ego makes us act against our own best judgement all the time, yet it robs us of all our power, our Will, our might, our true strength. The ego must be recognized and allowed to die in order to posses the Will and get control of your life, and choose forgiveness.

  • The problem is, I see thousands of forgiving people all around me, and they're the ones have locked themselves up. Those who dare to see reality and fight for justice are the only truly free people. Sep 6 '17 at 15:28

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