Shernaz talks about forgiveness, what it is and what is does. Here she tells us what forgiveness is not. We are introducing a new column, Shernaz Scribbles, beginning this week. Our columnist will deal with a variety of subjects, regularly, exclusively in Different Truths.
Recently a friend asked our WhatsApp group if one should forgive. She is of the opinion that forgiveness is not the right option; it could lead the transgressor to be unrepentant and continue his wrong actions.
Much has been said about what forgiveness is and does. I will delineate what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness is not an emotion one suddenly wakes up to, feeling all generous and magnanimous. No, it is a conscious choice one has to make and a lot of deliberation, confusion and effort go into the process. After all the soul-searching, more people than we would believe agree that it is absolutely okay not to forgive. Forgiveness according to them is over-rated. Their choice needs to be respected.
Forgiveness is to not imagine that you were not ill-treated. Often we tend to cover up for the person who harmed us and even begin to believe and accept the lie that it was our fault; that in reality, the offence was not deliberate. This is especially true when family members and friends betray us. Self-immolating on the pyre of another’s guilt is absurd. Whom are we trying to deceive? Accept it. Acknowledge the evil-doing, its depth and harshness; seek justice, not retribution and go on to forgive yourself for trying to absolve the perpetrator in your mind. Shake yourself out of the transferred guilt. It was never yours! That is a step towards self-healing.
Forgiveness is not glossing over the offence. That tantamount to putting a premium on evil. Sweeping it under the carpet does no one good. The act was wrong, it could have been horrendous. It cannot and should not be condoned. It is not saying “Oh, it is okay, I understand”. It is not okay and you don’t have to understand, you have to make them understand that what they did is intolerable and that you will not let them continue perpetrating their abominable acts. Walk away because forgiveness does not ask for reconciliation with the offender. If they are an inevitable part of your life and you cannot walk away from them, treat them as you would any other person – with humanity because of who you are; because you stand tall and know that you come from the place of truth where they no longer have power over you.
Forgiveness is about not trusting the offender ever again. By all means be humanly charitable towards them but do not trust them again. Don’t be a passive doormat over whom they continue to trample. Then you will be at fault. Often decency is mistaken for weakness. Keep them away from worming their way back into your confidence. Remember self-respect and self-esteem are important. No one can rob you of them if you don’t allow them to.
Forgiveness is not relieving the person of accountability. Even if you have it in your heart to forgive them never let them forget their responsibility, they must be reminded that they owe it to you and the society not to be repeat offenders.
Forgiveness is not about the offender. It is about freeing one’s inner being from the tyranny of the whole situation. It is about shifting focus from the agony and opting for peace within; it is about pulling the self up by one’s bootstrap from the cesspit of victimisation; it is about knowing that your spirit is inviolable and that you are a person of substance who cannot be mowed down by the weight of another’s culpability. It is about coming out of the dark shell of despondency and experiencing the mosaic of life in all its multi-hued vibrancy.
I feel forgiveness should arise from free volition, not from cultural or societal coercion. A forced act of pardon can only lead to further humiliation, huge resentment and be detrimental to the victim’s physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological wellbeing. Also, if a person chooses not to forgive she is not necessarily vindictive. So long as the victim can move on in life without being crippled, without letting the pain define her in any way she should feel free to forgive or not.
Most cultures and religions, old and new teach – There is power in forgiveness, there is release from self-persecution in letting go! So the crux is that if ‘not forgiving’ enables one to course through life without feeling perpetually victimised, without harbouring negativity and guilt or being chewed up by corrosive anger, it does not matter that they don’t forgive, because ultimately what forgiveness does is give you peace of mind by empowering you. Personal experience has taught me this – to know yourself, stay in your truth with integrity. No crushing anger, no devastating rancour, no revenge! Just a vantage point where you
Personal experience has taught me this – to know yourself, stay in your truth with integrity. No crushing anger, no devastating rancour, no revenge! Just a vantage point from where you can smile and say: whether forgiving or not, I have moved on! I am where I deserve to be!
Photos from the internet.
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To Shernaz Wadia, reading and writing poems has been one of the means to embark on an inward journey. She hopes her words will bring peace, hope and light into dark corners. Her poems have been published in many e-journals and anthologies. She has published her own book of poems “Whispers of the Soul” and another titled “Tapestry Poetry – A Fusion of Two Minds” with her poetry partner Avril Meallem.