Forgiveness - the discussion continued....
Guest Contributor

03 May 2005

posted by Charles Griswold

Many thanks to all of you who called during Tuesday's Philosophy Talk (May 3). We very much appreciated your interest! There are a number of fascinating issues we touched upon, and some we did not. Among the latter is the relationship between interpersonal forgiveness and political forgiveness. For an example, see the front page story in the NYT (April 18, 2005) about a traditional forgiveness "ritual" currently being practiced in Uganda. It is explicitly meant as an alternative to the more familiar procedures of criminal justice (proposed actions by the International Criminal Court are mentioned in the article). The offenders go through a ritual that includes dipping their right toe in a raw egg (the symbol of innocent life, we're informed) and paying some sort of reparation. After several such steps, they are accepted back into the community, in spite of horrific injuries they may have inflicted. So this comes to something like pardon. One of their victims expresses deep disagreement with this process, indicating that she's not forgiven her attackers at all--first they need to be punished. Question: is this ritual of reconciliation really about _forgiveness_ at all, or about something else? Do forgiveness and justice clash? Necessarily clash?

John Perry's "To Blog is to Forgive?" is helpful in formulating an answer to these questions.

Comments (4)


Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 -- 5:00 PM

Do forgiveness and justice clash? Necessarily clas

Do forgiveness and justice clash? Necessarily clash?
I believe part of the reason why forgiveness and justice sometimes seem to clash is that many people see bad acts as indications of bad people. Bad acts can be forgiven, bad people can only be reformed (or locked away forever, or otherwise disposed of).
I have heard and read stories about the families of people convicted of horrific crimes begging the courts for mercy. They are able to see the convicted person as a person, and to separate his actions from his worth as a person. To many, however, these convicts become "criminals", "monsters" and so on. There can be no forgiveness.
Thus, forgiveness appears to clash with justice because by its nature, nobody can "deserve" forgiveness. It is intimately tied up in many minds with the idea of "mercy", which falls like a gentle rain - blessing indiscriminately those who it touches. If justice, as Socrates said, is getting what you deserve, then mercy is the very opposite of justice. Presidents forgive. Victims forgive. Judges and juries cannot forgive.

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, May 5, 2005 -- 5:00 PM

I forgive people based on their Will and intellige

I forgive people based on their Will and intelligence, and the expected reasonable actions of person based on age. Of course there are certain acts when committed will not receive my forgiveness no matter what-I will have to leave their forgiveness to God. In order for a person to receive forgiveness I require that the person in question alleviate the wrong they have committed, give the person what they have taken back to the original owner. If this action is not performed or cannot be performed then the person will not receive forgiveness. There is a tally system on which my system of forgiveness is based. Some individuals wish to exploit another person?s willingness to forgive them. These exploiters should be found and friendships with them should immediately end.
I have heard that the majority of evil in the world is caused through ignorance-the person in question does not know any better. I believe this is indeed part of the cause, but I also believe that it is caused through the individual person?s Will. A person?s Will determines their intelligence and love of knowledge, which in turn will determine their actions. It is indeed the Will which determines a person?s actions. The ability to read another person?s Will and take the necessary steps in a relationship is an important talent.
Why should a person forgive another? When one person forgives another they are in turn forgiving themselves. The internal mental principles of the forgiver are being reformed when they forgive another. When a person forgives another they will more easily forgive themselves for similar past and current actions. A person should be more concerned with trying to reform themselves than trying to reform another human being.
Forgiveness is based on the hope for a better future in a relationship. Hope has been declared as a useless idea by Hesiod in his ?Work and Days.? If the person who is forgiven does not seek or produce a better future in a relationship, then they should not be forgiven again and the relationship should be ended. The forgiver must constantly check the actions of the forgiven. Above all the forgiver should be harder on his own actions, than on the forgiven; but must constantly be protected from being exploited.

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, April 1, 2007 -- 5:00 PM

It took 11 years of misdiagnosis, shoddy medical e

It took 11 years of misdiagnosis, shoddy medical exams, crappy medical care, wrong prescriptions and outright medical abuse to get a full and complete diagnosis for what turned out to be three chronic illnesses. One might SAY the doctors didn't know any better, but it was their JOB to know. Should I forgive them? Yup. The same way I'd forgive a rattlesnake that crawled into my sleeping bag! Forgiveness for an honest mistake might take only an appology, but asking people to forgive someone who has put them through life-threatening abuse is a pile of vicious, feel-good, namby-pamby bunk. If philosophy is to be anything more than Soduko with big words, it must help people live better lives. Too much forgiveness can literally put people's lives in danger. I say, approach all rattlesnakes with extreme caution--and a big stick.

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 20, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

Are you ready to forgive George Bush? www.forgive

Are you ready to forgive George Bush?
www.forgivegeorge.com
Timely and challenging new site about forgiveness...
:-)
P.S. Love the show...

 

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