Forbes released its list of the most disliked NFL players and that ex-dog fighter, Michael Vick, is at the top of their list. He served nearly 2 years in prison after pleading guilty to the crime. Since then he's disavowed dog fighting and has been working with the the Humane Society to end dog fighting.
This post isn't about Michael Vick. He just starts the discussion.
What about forgiveness? When does one deserve it? When does one give it? Does one do one's best to forget after forgiving?
What do you think?
Betrayals are the hardest to forgive. It's hard to move on from a betrayal, whether it be adultery or a presumed "friend" doing something against you behind your back. These sorts of things are the hardest to forget, much less forgive.
I've been conducting a sort of informal survey for years - asking the odd person if there was anyone in the world that they could honestly say they hated. Some say they don't truly hate anyone. Some people have named politically charged figures (like Vick). Most name someone that they at one time loved - sometimes an ex-best friend but usually an ex-romantic-partner.
It has always amazed me that the vast majority of personal hatred seems to be directed at former loved ones.
Well, romantic love isn't true love. It's love in name only. Actually, it's a form of obsessive-compulsiveness. And it's selfish from the get-go. "I want this person in my life. I want them to myself. I want them forever." True love is like a parent who sacrifices for a child or a friend who sacrifices to the benefit of their friend.
That is how it always starts out alright, at least for me. If you are really lucky that obsessive pseudo-love can be slowly replaced by the real thing, A deep to-the-grave romantic love. When you love their faults even. I think the best analogy is from the children's story "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
The rate of divorce tells me it's not lookin' good.
Yeah. I know some people who never recovered.
Romantic love can turn into true love, but romantic love remains OCD.
Some things, to me, are unforgivable; particularly if I (or a loved-one) am the victim. Child molestation, rape, physical torture or mutilation, murder. If such a person (even a close relative) showed an interest in one of my kids (they're grown up now, though), I'd tell him to never show his face again or suffer the consequences. It wouldn't matter to me if this person swore up and down that he has reformed himself . . . he's already crossed a line I can't continence. As far as I'm concerned, they're not worth the risk. There's no coming back from these sorts of violations. If that makes me callous, well . . . so be it.
For lesser crimes and affronts, I'd basically go by what I believe the person is like NOW. After all, people do change or learn lessons. I grew up an "Army brat", traveling around the world and attending many different schools. There were many times I had to face the school bully. Of these encounters, 2 bullies actually became good friends after I kicked their asses. And they also stopped being bullies. I like to think they learned their lesson and that I was responsible for it.
As for Michael Vick, I know many animal lovers are very serious about their dogs. But I certainly think he's demonstrated plenty of contrition. Give the guy a break!
Let's explore the other end of the spectrum. I never understood how so MANY women continually forgive their husbands for physical violence. Has anyone heard of a man who beat his wife ONCE - and then never again. To me a wife beater is a wife beater. If they have it in them to punch a woman, that part of their personality was formed long before they were ever married. No matter how much they SWEAR (and fully intend) to never do it again, they always do.
My advice is always: forgive (for your own sake) but stay away. Look for another partner.
I think it's part situational and part psychological.
First, many women are dependent on their male partner. Without him, they may be without adequate income (or any income). Also, he may have threatened them if they were to leave or even report their brutality to the authorities. (This is why in many jurisdictions police can file a complaint alleging abuse even if the woman won't press charges. That relieves her of at least some of the blame.)
Psychologically, women are somewhat hardwired to nurture, which means believing there's hope where others may see none. They may believe that their love can change and improve the other person. This can lead them into a codependent relationship (yes, codependency isn't limited to people with addicted partners). Low self-esteem (which an abusive partner can foster and exploit) can have the woman thinking "This is the best I can do because at least he sees SOME worth in me."
Some people do actually change their ways. If Vick has realized that cruelty and inhumane treatment is a sign of mental defect and not tolerated in a civilized society then he warrants forgiveness.
There is a saying: Wrong me once, shame on you. Wrong me twice, shame on me. Perhaps cynicism has it's place. I don't think a blanket statement on forgiveness can be offered. So much depends on the circumstances and outcome of the wrongdoing.