1

Religion and to some degree philosophy, may promote forgiveness. But how do you deal with: when people see that you forgive, that may give them a lesson that it is "ok" to do that to you.

Another thing is, the society doesn't tend to forgive: when your parking meter is over a minute or two, you can be given a ticket, and if you are able to find the parking patrol, a statement he is likely to give to you is, "over is over". To companies and coworkers, I don't think they forgive much at all, especially if it is a metropolitan, competitive city. A third thing is, if the society just forgive, there is no punishment, people may do whatever they want to do, knowing they would be forgiven and fearing no punishment at all.

But I did find that if I don't forgive, I feel quite bad, probably seeing so many bad things each day or each week and that I didn't forgive and let go.

  • 1
    As with most such questions, the answer is "it depends". In other words, there is no point asking them generally, in a vacuum. Sometimes one should forgive, and sometimes one shouldn't, depending exactly on what forgiveness is likely to do to oneself and others in a specific situation. Forgiveness does undermine deterrence, but when it is deemed beneficial overall and not setting a precedent societies do grant amnesties. An eye for an eye may often be an imperative of survival, but an eye for an eye all the time leaves the whole world blind. Hence the conflicting emotions we all have about it. – Conifold Oct 21 '19 at 9:42
  • 1
    Forgiveness does not mean condoning all forms of behaviour. One can forgive a murdered yet still want him banged up, and forgiving you for incurring a parking ticket need not entail not giving you one. You have to forgive the warden for doing his job. I feel your notion of forgiveness is a little unusual and this is why the confusion is arising. . – user20253 Oct 21 '19 at 12:06
  • Yes, everything you say is true. This is just something you have to try to strike a balance with. There are no easy formulas. – Gordon Oct 21 '19 at 14:26
  • Memory, History, Forgiveness by Paul Ricoeur. This is probably not helpful for your question, but just in case it offers something. janushead.org/8-1/Ricoeur.pdf – Gordon Oct 21 '19 at 14:30
  • @PeterJ forgive me and then give me a ticket? And I hate him and yet I forgive him? It is like a mother forgive a daughter and then slap her face, and then the daughter forgives her mother and then yell out "I hate you. Go away". Yeah, maybe your notion and mine are different. I am not sure if one notion is right and the other is not as right – nonopolarity Oct 21 '19 at 14:51
2

Society does forgive. When you recieve a parking ticket, you pay the fine and then society forgives you. The same goes for other matters. Forgiveness doesn't only have to be unconditional; you can forgive someone after they've done necessary steps to make up for what they did.

So should we forgive? It depends on the exact situation and is arbitrarily down to the person. From a purely objective point of view, nobody has to forgive anyone for anything; everybody has the right to be internally unforgiving about even the most trivial of things. Of course, by societal standards of social norms, morality and ethics, one is often expected to forgive in certain scenarios, but nonetheless, one isn't forced to do so.

Also, that said, most people abide by society's moral standards as a rough guideline, but ultimately are individuals in some way or another. In short, whether or not someone forgives is completely up to that person. Without the choice to not forgive, the entire concept of forgiveness is completely meaningless.

| improve this answer | |
  • that's interesting about your comment that society does forgive: "When you receive a parking ticket, you pay the fine and then society forgives you". But what about other people who wronged you or who did bad things to you. In the metropolitan where I live, many people don't ever apologize, and I think there is no easy way to "punish" them, unless if I do something harsh to them and establish hostility with them. Now if society actually put a person in prison for life, or have a death sentence, is that forgiveness? – nonopolarity Oct 21 '19 at 10:39
  • 1
    In a way, if somebody cons you of $500, and you take back $500 from him, is that forgiveness? I thought forgiveness is usually without the revenge or punishment. Such as if somebody steps on your new white shoe and made it dirty, and you forgive him if you know that he was not intentional. Now if you ask him to pay for a new pair of shoe or for a cleaning fee, maybe that is not forgiveness. By the way, if unintentional, I can forgive. But if intentional or unintentional and he refuses to apologize, then I find it hard to forgive. – nonopolarity Oct 21 '19 at 10:42
2

Forgiveness is complex. I bought a copy of Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration by Charles Griswold. It's more than 200 pages long and includes a lot of good ideas - along with a few lemons.

For example, Griswold talks about the U.S. government giving X amount of money to victims of the WWII Japanese internment, then claiming that everything is now solved. If I remember correctly, the people who received money had to promise they would never sue the government. Moreover, the amount they received was chicken feed compared the homes and valuable farms and businesses some people lost.

But Griswold's book is still worth reading.

Personally, I make a distinction between the personal arena and the political arena.

You really, really don't want bad blood between relatives or close friends, so make an earnest effort towards reconciliation. Romance is even hairier. After all, people who are in love/lust are driven by hormones, right?

So forgive and move on. Or if you can't forgive, then move on, anyway. Don't get stuck in a messy non-relationship, like so many people do.

As for the political arena, imagine a corrupt supervisor who bullies you or a corrupt public official who has you imprisoned - when you committed no crime. Or maybe you're raped or assaulted or whatever.

If your attacker repents, that's great...but are you the only victim?

I make a distinction between good and evil, and if I perceive an individual to be a menace to society - particularly children - they'll get no forgiveness from me.

The key word is justice, or balance. Yes, holding in hate can be bad, but too easily forgiving can be just as bad.

Personally, I hate with a passion, and I find it empowering. But in the personal arena, I have a pretty clean slate. (Fortunately, my relatives aren't corrupt politicians.)

The hardest thing of all may be forgiving yourself, maybe for something you did when you were young and stupid. As Sheldon Kopp said, "Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again."

P.S. I also wanted to comment that society sometimes punishes people even after they've repented in order to set an example for others. If you drive while drunk and kill someone's child, you can apologize all you want, but even if the family of the child forgives you, the neighbors may not want you prowling the streets.

| improve this answer | |
  • Agree, but would add Nielsen's Rules of Forgiveness: 1) Forgiveness without atonement furnishes permission to the party who hurt you to repeat the offense at will. 2) Only the wronged party can extend forgiveness, which is why a murderer cannot be forgiven: his victim is absent. 3) Self-forgiveness is a dangerous business because of Rule #1 above. – niels nielsen Oct 22 '19 at 6:35
  • +1 - much to think about here. Best - GLT – Geoffrey Thomas Oct 22 '19 at 10:01
  • Good points. However, a murderer may have multiple victims - including relatives or friends of the person he murdered. They can choose to forgive or not forgive him. Another interesting thing is the hate (or adoration) people have for powerful leaders they really have no connection with. Should we hate/admire Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, or should we forgive them? And how can we forgive them if they never wronged us? If we just hate them on principle, then can/should we forgive them on principle as well? – David Blomstrom Oct 22 '19 at 11:37
1

Isn't this question off-topic here?

Religion and to some degree philosophy, may promote forgiveness.

If you consider religions, such as biblical Christianity, the message might be to forgive, but it is to be given under specific circumstances. Before one can be forgiven, one must regret what one has done, and must repent by changing one's ways.

Yes, if someone repents and ask for your forgiveness, you must do it. And if that person later does the same thing (they are human after all), you must forgive them again. But, each time you must believe that their regret and repentance are sincere.

You are under no obligation to forgive someone unless they realize their error, want to change, and ask for your forgiveness.

But how do you deal with: when people see that you forgive, that may give them a lesson that it is "ok" to do that to you.

If that is how they feel, you have no moral obligation to forgive them again.

A third thing is, if the society just forgive, there is no punishment, people may do whatever they want to do, knowing they would be forgiven and fearing no punishment at all.

A truly repentant person doesn't need punishment. We should love the person, not be vindictive. But society and the law can't tell whether someone is sincere or not, so all offenders get punishment, even when it is no longer needed.

But I did find that if I don't forgive, I feel quite bad, probably seeing so many bad things each day or each week and that I didn't forgive and let go.

You are under no obligation to forgive anyone if they don't sincerely want to be forgiven. Making yourself suffer guilt because of other people's actions is not healthy for you or those whose lives you also affect, and does nothing useful for anyone else.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.