What is forgiveness? Is it letting go of anger against a person? Is it freeing a person from the consequences of his or her actions—-the person does not have to pay you back, or you won’t press charges if the person hurt you in a criminal manner? Is it pretending as if the offense never took place?
I am the sort of person who would like the therapeutic effects of
forgiveness, without having to be in a relationship with those who
wronged me. I want inner peace, but not the responsibility to pursue
reconciliation. Or let me say this: if I believe that the relationship
is worthwhile to me—-if I value it—-then I will try to safeguard it.
That is only true of a small number of relationships in my life,
though. In my opinion, it is not mentally healthy for me to beat myself
up over not being friends with everyone on the planet. At the same
time, I realize that how I do things right now—-or drawing the moral
lines around where I am right now—-does not exactly bear fruit. Just
take a look at my record of broken friendships!
Anyway, what I try to do is to recognize everyone’s value as a human
being, whether that person wronged me or not. “But that is not reaching
out to people and concretely showing them love,” one might say.
“You’re taking the easier path, the path that makes you feel better.”