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Forgiveness

Tony
Robinson

Sunday, April 22, 2018

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My bloody thoughts, with violent pace,

Shall ne'er look back, ne'er ebb to humble love,

Till that a capable and wide revenge,

Swallow them up.

— Shakespeare, Othello, III, 3

That guy Othello, who just happens to be my favourite Shakespeare character, was so unforgiving and full of revenge against his wife, Desdemona, who he thought had wronged him by cheating. So much so that he killed her. The cruel irony is she was innocent, but the deed had been done.

So many people dismiss forgiveness, as their only course of action of revenge — an eye for an eye, a meal best eaten cold, karmic justice, meting out their own measure of justice — is actually more popular than forgiveness.

Maybe forgiveness is out of the reach of most humans. Perhaps it's not written in our DNA and only saints of old or weaklings believe in the old maxim of turning the other cheek. “Say what, turn the other cheek, make him box me again? No sah! Me a go tump him down.” So much for forgiveness.

Is it a dying reaction, this art of forgiveness? Has it been relegated to the footnote of Biblical history when Jesus walked the land and encouraged people to forgive not only seven times, but seventy times seven? Or are some people still capable of forgiving those who wronged them?

We'll find out more, right after these forgiving responses to my opinion on 'It won't work'.

Hi Tony,

Relationships need constant work by both parties, or they won't work. They say that love is blind, but as relationships grow over time, life can be a real eye-opener as faults and bad habits start to rear their ugly heads. Individuals must always monitor their behaviour, actions or lack thereof. Romance, intimacy and affection must be maintained for as long as the relationship lasts. Then it will last long.

Conrad

Mr Robinson,

Truer words have never been said. Too many times people cling to relationships that have as much chance of surviving as a snowball in Hell. And many will endure Hell just to say that they belong to somebody. Why are people so insecure that they cannot shed the baggage, even when faced with the reality that the ship is sinking? Move on, or be alone, but maintain your dignity.

Roberta

Forgiveness must be the most difficult of all actions. It's so much easier to react to violence with violence and 'jook' out the offender's eye if he or she 'jooks' out your eye first. “Me nah tek yu lick. Claat me and me gwine claat yu back.” After a while, everyone will be without eyes.

To err is human, to forgive is divine, it has been said. But it didn't say that to forgive is human too. After all, you are human, but I am divine, is the thought process. It is human nature to retaliate, to hit back, to shove when shoved, to mete out violence and wreak havoc on anyone who offends you. “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war,” said Julius Caesar.

I was talking to a senior cop the other day and he told me that many of the gang wars and conflicts are simply over nothing, just a thirst for revenge over the most innocuous incident. A girl will be walking on the street and a guy calls to her or touches her. She tells her brother or another relative who then goes looking for the offender. That's when the war begins, and it often lasts so long that no one left alive even remembers why it began in the first place.

To be wronged is to be dissed, and that's unforgivable. “Any bwoy who cross de lane muss dead.” But could you forgive, and what offence against you would you forgive? The reactions are varied. Sometimes it's over a stolen cellphone that's not returned. There is no forgiveness there.

A man is married for years, only to discover that his wife was carrying on behind his back. Could he find it in his heart to forgive her if she was contrite, remorseful, penitent? “Hell no, for she would just do it again, so I could never forgive her,” was the consensus of most men. And yet, more women than men found it in their hearts to forgive their men for doing the same thing. “I know that he had an outside child with that woman, but I forgave him and even took in the child to live with us.”

Maybe men see the act of forgiveness as a sign of weakness. “If I forgive her now, she'll just laugh at me behind my back and take me for a fool,” is what I have heard. And yet, it may take more courage to forgive rather than impart vengeful justice on the person. Maybe the world has outlived and outgrown the act of forgiveness and now sees it as the action of a fool.

When that guy asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother seven times?” Jesus replied, “Nay, I say unto you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Now I ask you, which person is going to forgive someone who keeps on wronging them over and over again? Not in these times. “What a fool? him just keep on forgiving her each time she sleep with another of his friends. She soon reach seventy-one friend.”

Perhaps forgiveness is meant only to be administered by saints and members of the clergy, for it's not very popular in this modern-day world. Countries do not forgive, with the result being war; societies do not forgive, with the result being feuds; families do not forgive, resulting in eternal conflict; and even the State does not forgive, or there wouldn't be courthouse, prisons and executions in some countries.

So clearly, forgiveness is not a part of the human mosaic. How do you forgive someone who takes the life of a loved one? How do you forgive a man who rapes a child? How do you forgive someone who robs you of everything? And how do you forgive a grave betrayal?

It's so different when it hits home. Could you forgive anyone who did any of those things to you or your loved ones? Could you simply say, “Oh, forgive him, for the Lord will take care of him?” Wouldn't you love to see him suffer for the evil that he did and not wait on the Lord to punish him? “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” were famous words uttered by Jesus as He was being crucified. But what if the person knows exactly what they are doing; could you still forgive them?

It's a tough call. Maybe some things can be forgiven, like the little things. “Okay, you borrowed five grand and didn't pay me back, I forgive you.” But what if he borrowed $500,000 under the pretext that he was ill and refused to pay you back, could you forgive him?

So it's clearly a question of incremental degrees. The little things can be forgiven, but the big issues have to be dealt with. “Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord, but I am not the Lord and can't wait on that, so I'll deal with his case.”

Forgiveness is not a natural human trait, and when people say, “I can forgive but I can never forget,” what they really mean is, “I can never forgive.” Even Shakespeare penned, “If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat that ancient grudge I bear him.” So said Shylock from the Merchant of Venice. There is no forgiveness there.

So next time you are robbed, deceived, given bun, betrayed, don't think of retaliation, think more of forgiveness. Is it really possible, or merely an ideal that we think that we should strive for? Will the meek really inherit the Earth? Is forgiveness only for the weak? It's a tough call, especially for Jamaicans.

More time.

seido1@hotmail.com

Footnote:What is it about Kingston College that draws the ire, fascination, envy, respect, bad mind of so many people? No other school experiences this. Why is KC punished for its success and mocked when it falls short? KC has won Boys' Champs the most of any school (31), and yet rival schools will band together to thwart KCs success, even though those other schools do not succeed.

KC has won Schools Challenge the most of any school (11), making some organisers say, “Oh, they can afford to lose sometimes, having won so many times.” Count the number of second place in Champs over the recent years — Walker Cup Champions 2016, All Island Under 16 Football Champions 2016, Flow Cup All Island Football Champion 2017, Lacrosse Champion 2018, Six athletes being admitted to med school. And yet they say 'KC only run them mouth.' So strange. Psychologists should examine this phenomenon of KC envy.

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