I came across this quote by Alec Nove, who I had never heard of, “To understand is not to forgive. It is simply better than the alternative, which is not to understand.”
My first reaction was, “Yeah, that’s true!” and my second was, “I don’t get it.”
I know that when I understand a situation, my feelings about it shift. For example, when I realized that my parents were treated, as children, the same way they treated me, I stopped hating and blaming them and started viewing them with compassion. Then my feelings toward myself shifted. I relaxed inside and stopped looking for danger, stopped being on high alert all the time. It was a tremendous relief!
Figuring out that they had been abused as children didn’t occur until after they both were dead and I had remembered my own abuse. I was as if I saw them in a mirror, and the mirror was me, if that makes any sense.
I often wonder how our relationship would have changed if I could have stopped walking on eggshells around them and simply watched their behavior and approached them with curiosity. I know I would have been more interested in their lives and asked more questions. It probably would have been a spiral: the more I learned, the more I would have understood, and the more I would have relaxed around them.
Of course, I might have learned something that would have sent me running out of the room screaming. I will never know!
But where does forgiveness come in? I have never quite understood the concept of forgiveness. Do other people think understanding automatically includes forgiveness? What is forgiveness, anyway?
Does it mean admitting the other person is right after all?
Does it mean forgetting what happened?
Does it mean deciding the action was okay?
Or that you love the person just as much, even though they did something that hurt you?
Or that you “get” where they are coming from?
Often, when I am confused, I look a word up in the dictionary. This definition is from The Free Dictionary at https://www.thefreedictionary.com/forgive.
“to forgive: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender): to give up resentment of or claim to requital: to grant relief from payment or forgive a debt
- To give up resentment against or stop wanting to punish (someone) for an offense or fault; pardon.
- To relent in being angry or in wishing to exact punishment for (an offense or fault).
- To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).”
This dictionary goes on to define synonyms for forgive:
“Synonyms: forgive, pardon, excuse, condone
These verbs mean to refrain from imposing punishment on an offender or demanding satisfaction for an offense. The first three can be used as conventional ways of offering apology. More strictly, to forgive is to grant pardon without harboring resentment: “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them” (Oscar Wilde).
Pardon more strongly implies release from the liability for or penalty entailed by an offense: After the revolution all political prisoners were pardoned.
To excuse is to pass over a mistake or fault without demanding punishment or redress: “Valencia was incredibly generous to these deadbeats. She memorized their poetry and excused their bad behavior” (David Sedaris).
To condone is to overlook an offense, usually a serious one, and often suggests tacit forgiveness: Failure to protest the policy may imply a willingness to condone it.”
I’m still not satisfied.
I’m happy to give up my anger or resentment, but I want offenders to be accountable for their actions. I don’t desire punishment, or retribution, but I do desire a sincere apology and reparations, when possible, plus a change in behavior. Without seeking accountability, I would be saying, “Oh, don’t worry, that’s okay by me.” Ritual abuse, academic/government mind control experimentation, and child pornography is not okay by me, and it never will be.
“Excuse” and “condone” mean, to me at least, that I’ll go along with the behavior. Or that, under the circumstances, the behavior is reasonable or moral. I can never, under any circumstances, excuse or condone the rape or torture of any living being.
Killing – well, that’s a little different. I don’t like to kill ants, but I will do it if they enter my house. Bedbugs and cockroaches, too. Other insects I carefully scoop up and take outside. And I have no qualms taking antibiotics to kill bacteria that are making me sick.
I also eat meat, poultry, and fish, even though I feel guilty for doing so. I therefore condone the killing of these living things. I can’t say I excuse my actions, for if I did, I wouldn’t feel guilty. And I don’t pardon myself, because I didn’t break a law or do anything wrong by my society’s standards.
I’m not sure if I ever forgive myself for anything, since I’m not sure what forgiveness really means. My gut feeling is that I reserve forgiveness for things stemming from distortions caused by the abuse. I tell myself, “I forgive myself for feeling dirty, or stupid, or not human. These are lies they told me. It was not my fault I believed them, because I was only a little kid. I have always been clean, smart, and fully human.”
I guess I do understand the meaning of forgiveness after all. I see that I define it by the heart’s actions, not by the logic the mind offers. I just know, deep down, what it is.
Sundays of advent: 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
12/14 New moon
12/14 Total solar eclipse. Totality will be visible in Chile and parts of Argentina. Partial eclipse will be visible in southern South America and south-east Africa. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-december-14
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/29 Full moon
12/31 New Year’s Eve
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/6 (?) Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/13 New Moon
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/18 (?) Martin Luther King Jr. Day
1/20 (?) St. Agnes’ Eve
1/28 Full moon
Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
11/29 -12/16 Chanukah/Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)
* You can find more information on the following holidays at:
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/
Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Easter: (personal) For background, see Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween (personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/
Halloween (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
* How to add a comment after a post This blog’s design makes it hard to figure out how to comment. Go down to the bottom of the post (after the calendar) You will see in light grey type: “RATE THIS” tagged (a list of the tags) (the number of) “comments” Click on the word “comments” to open all posted comments.
At the very bottom of the page, you will see “LEAVE A REPLY.” That’s where you make a new comment. You can reply to a posted comment by clicking “Reply” under that comment. In each case, make sure to click “POST COMMENT” when you are finished. It’s a good idea to write out your comment first and then paste it in so that you don’t risk losing what you wrote.