August 24, 2009

Forgiveness 101- Part One, Personal Responsibility

Here’s the dilemma you face- you know that there is something about forgiveness that is supposed to be essential your personal happiness. Self-satisfied, octogenarians and centenarians swear it had something to do with their longevity and ability to face the great adventure beyond this one with bravery and no regrets about this life.

The thing is, you are also an intelligent person and you cannot be guilt-tripped or bullshitted into forgiving those who have hurt you. In fact, you probably have long realized that the kind of forgiveness you’ve been taught since you were a child feels more like swallowing a spiky golf ball or sinking into a helpless, “What else can I do?” mind-set. It started when your mother or father forced you to “kiss and make-up” before you were ready to do so, with your siblings and cousins who made you see blue murder.

Remember when your parents FORCED you to kiss and make-up before you were ready, for their benefit more than anything? Does forgiveness still feel like that for you today?

Isn’t it any wonder that today forgiveness feels like denial of your hurt and pain and allowing someone to “get off the hook” because of family, spiritual or religious obligation. How many times have you wanted badly to hang on to your anger and distrust when you remember,
“Geez God died for me, so I have no choice but to forgive this asshole!”
Then a lingering sense of injustice keeps nagging you despite your noble displays of absolution. It keeps reminding you that despite what you think, you have not actually forgiven anything.

So let me start by saying that is not the kind of forgiveness I am going to discuss. In fact, the kind of forgiveness, I want to speak about is not a duty you perform against your feelings nor is it even a long-term process. If you were theologically compelled because Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven and then he set the bar really high by forgiving the people who tortured and killed him and left you wondering,
“How on earth am I supposed to follow that?”
I am here to give you a little help on how to arrive at the same state of enlightenment that enables the great spiritual minds of human history like to do such things.

Forgiveness is not something you do against your will, nor is it a process. It is actually a vital PowerUp in this video game of life.

It starts by understanding what forgiveness really is.

Forgiveness is a spiritual “power-up” you attain in this video game of life. This game of life comes with certain Universal Laws or “game programming”. The secret to the Forgiveness Power up is becoming skilled in positive use of the same Universal Laws or game programming that allows setbacks, pain and injustice to happen in the game plot. Hopefully, when you have done this, it will not be a question of whether or not you are able to forgive. You would have already arrived at a state where forgiveness is simply an inevitable expression that rewards you most of all and yes…others too. So, here we go!

The Law of Consequence (Attraction)

I never really understood forgiveness until I grasped the concept that every action attracts a resulting complementary reaction and this is incontrovertible and indiscriminate. We are all interrelated and nobody is ever a complete victim of anyone’s actions. Ah yes, Dr. Phil, as much as I despise his corniness, he has this saying,
“You teach people how to treat you”
The older I get, the more I realize it is true.

Yes, I know we live in the age of “victim rights”. You are not supposed to blame the poor judgment of a woman who wears a dental floss outfit, gets drunk and walks down a lonely street with a man she barely knows and ends up being raped. Nope don’t you dare call her irresponsible! For some reason the same “sense of personal accountability for choosing certain actions” you apply to the man for committing the rape does not apply to her. Well, that is counterintuitive in every sense.

When we look at most things like that we can see how (1) A lack of self-love (2) A lack of trust and confidence in A Higher Power/Our Power Within The Universe (3) Negative thoughts (4) Negative actions and (5) Ignorance (deliberate or not), attract bad results, I’d say hmmm…. 100% of the time.

But what about things like the Holocaust or the genocide in Rwanda and child abuse. It’s very difficult to wrap your mind around the concept that the people who suffered were getting the consequences for their actions. What kind of action could ever warrant the scale of such mind boggling barbarity? Surely, these are “unforgiveable unspeakable evils”.

But are they really unforgivable and unspeakable? Or are we just trying to dismiss them instead of honestly exploring how such things happen. First of all, what is truly unforgivable?

In order for something to be unforgivable, it means it must be purely evil. But under close inspection, very few things in this life are purely evil. In fact, the greatest spiritual leaders from Jesus to Buddha agree that there is only one unforgivable action. This action is usually described as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit or rejection of a pure state enlightenment once having attained it. Now this is serious stuff right here. This ain’t the pedestrian,
“Doh tek de Lord’s name in vain!” or laughing heartedly at Monty Python’s portrayal of Christ on the cross telling Peter,
“Hey, I can see my house from up here!”
This also isn’t about rejecting your religion or someone else’s out of disbelief, doubts, disenchantment, delinquency or dissatisfaction.

What is universally accepted as the "Unforgiveable Sin" is also the "Inconceivable Sin"

I am talking of the kind of fall from grace where you have no disbelief, doubts, disenchantment, delinquency or dissatisfaction whatsoever. You have actually been in God’s presence; and have PROOF of it! It is arriving at a state of pure enlightenment where you know and experience Divine love and yet purposefully, with malice choose to act like it never happened. In order to do that, that individual must be so unimaginably warped, I cannot even imagine! Perhaps this is why it is so unforgivable for it is also inconceivable. Not even the reputed cosmic villain Satan (if you believe in such a creature) can deny God’s existence; petulantly challenge him though he might.

Recently I have had the chance to forgive the young man who sexually abused me when I was nine. Is he pure evil? No. That is just a convenient way of dismissing an unpleasant reality. He was a disturbed person who upon reaching the age of maturity did not take responsibility for being abused himself. He allowed himself to be a pawn of circumstance and acted out his twisted feelings on me.

The laws of the Universe are unbiased. It doesn’t matter how innocent and cute a baby is, if it crawls out of a multi-story window it will fall. You cannot get angry at The Law Gravity for that and I cannot get angry at the Law of Attraction nor its Architect for what happened to me.

Now we come to the really difficult questions: Did I ask for the abuse? Why did God allow such a thing to happen to me?

Honestly, I don’t think I asked for the abuse, at least not knowingly. I say not knowingly because unknowingly I was thinking and acting in such a way to attract a molester to me and my parent was thinking and acting in such a way to leave me vulnerable to that situation. The laws of the Universe are unbiased. It doesn’t matter how innocent and cute a baby is, if it crawls out of a multi-story window it will fall. You cannot get angry at The Law Gravity for that and I cannot get angry at the Law of Attraction nor its Architect for what happened to me. So while I did not consciously ask to be abused, I was in fact a child who was feeling lost, abandoned, insecure and fearful and I had a parent who reinforced those feelings and placed me in unsafe situations.

I fit the role molesters go after perfectly and I was in a scenario that made it easy to do and cover up. It was bound to happen! In fact, I know the “molestation scerarios” and “molestor profile” so well now I can walk into someone’s home and after some observation, I can tell with a fair amount of certainty if a child is at risk for sexual abuse from a relative or family friend. In such situations, it is never a question of if but when. An inattentive seal mother of a cute baby seal will have her seal eaten no matter how cute it is and a killer whale will eat the seal no matter how long it plays with it. Law of nature!

But what about things like the Holocaust? How can an entire group of people attract such a disaster to themselves? Before I get painted with the anti-Semite brush and come across like I am saying Jews brought it on themselves. Let me say what happened is a stain on humanity. Let’s not forget all the gypsies, Slavs, Poles, homosexuals and other ethnic groups who died in death camps. I am certainly not going to say they deserved it either. The same goes for the Tutsis that were slaughtered by the thousands in Rwanda.

In both Germany and Rwanda, the genocide was in fact a climax of generations of underlying resentment and building hatred. It didn’t just happen overnight!

However, if mob psychology exists, then it must also work both ways. One group must collectively, blindly unite and become The Persecutor and another must also just as blindly accept collectively the role of The Persecuted. All wars and genocides are like active volcanoes. If two or more groups of people engage in a prolonged unhealthy relationship you will have a pressure cooker situation that will erupt. Again it is not a question of if but when and there are so many WARNING SIGNS before a volcano erupts.

In both Germany and Rwanda, the genocide was in fact a climax of generations of underlying resentment and building hatred. It didn’t just happen overnight! In Germany and most of Europe, anti-Semitism was already millennia old. In Rwanda, tribal strife was generations old. The less sensational truth is that both sides apathetically accepted and played out and maintained these roles on ever increasing levels until it reached its inevitable climax. What we saw was not the whole disaster, just the end result of a long rumbling volcano threatening to erupt.

At anytime, during its long gestation, either side could have turned the tide. Let us not forget that even during the face of such rabid hatred and violence, there were stellar examples of how capable people can be to prevent this from happening. Even in the face of violence, glimmers of the loftier human spirit were on display, which means it was always there.

If people could act with such humanity, enlightenment and bravery during the hell, it means even more people could have prevented the disaster before it reached to that stage.When people exist in a self-imposed world of lack and powerlessness and they do not have enough self-love to demand better, that is the true disaster taking place! That is not evil. It is merely unfortunate and shameful.

During the Holocaust, there were Jews so respected and loved by their non-Jewish friends and neighbours and Jews whose spirit was so strong they fought and saved not only themselves but thousands of their Jewish brothers and sisters. The same goes for the many non-Jewish Germans who hid and assisted Jews during that time and of course we all know the true story in the Academy Award winning Hotel Rwanda. Nobody can dehumanize a person who refuses to give up their humanity and allows it shine so clearly no oppressor can drown that light.

If people could act that way during the hell, it means even more people could have prevented the disaster before it reached to that stage.

Let us look at what has been happening in our own country in Trinidad between Afro-Trinis and Indo-Trinis. God forbid it, but if mass violence were to erupt between the races, whose fault is it? If an Afro-Trinidadian or Indo-Trinidadian leader hungry for power, saw the opportunity to feed on the already existing racism and fears of people effectively enough to start ethnic cleansing, whose fault is it? Don’t we have countless chances to bridge the divide and there are more than enough loving, smart and tolerant people to stop such a thing before it escalates?

When things like this happen it is only because we collectively let them happen. So really there is no “unspeakable, unforgivable evil” taking place. The only real tragedy is that good people did nothing or not enough, soon enough. Each individual still has to look at themselves and ask,
“What did I do to prevent this?”
When people exist in a self-imposed world of lack and powerlessness and they do not have enough self-love to demand better, that is the true disaster taking place! That is not evil. It is merely unfortunate and shameful.

That’s it! Your first skill to getting the Forgiveness Power Up. Understand, appreciate and then live with the knowledge that the Laws of Consequence are unapologetic, unbiased and unavoidable whether it is one person attracting a negative consequence from another person, or entire society attracting a negative consequence from years of their own negative actions or one or a few people attracting a negative consequence by deliberately or not, supporting a society’s negative attributes.

When wrong is done to you, it is YOU that you must first ask,
“Why, how, what did I do or not do to allow this to happen to me?”

It sounds harsh, but it can be the single most liberating experience of your life to find out the person you need to forgive is YOURSELF.

Sometimes the answer is as simple as the horned wife admitting:

“Actually, I saw it coming but I did not do anything to stop it. I was so low in self-esteem or I never really allowed myself to love my man for who is truly is and appreciate his needs. I was in love with an illusion of my own making.”
So she resolves never to fall into that trap again and she never does, making herself and a lucky man very happy as a result.

Sometimes the answer is not so simple.

The mother whose child is raped and killed by a serial killer for instance, after mourning that unbelievable loss, going through hell, coming to the realization that:

“I not only contribute to a society that allows such predators to develop unnoticed by parents, teachers, community until it is too late but I also contribute to a government with a system that allows such offenders to go free knowing fully-well they are a threat to society. How could I, as a mother have ever consented to play along, thinking it would not ever come back to bite me or my little girl! How was it I was ever fooled into complacently placing blind trust in a system that is not working, essentially leaving my daughter’s safety up to luck of the draw? And guess what? When you leave things like that to luck, your luck can run out. I cannot believe I have not taken this seriously before!”

Suddenly she is awakened and for the first time makes the connection. She can no longer be a by-standing citizen hoping for the best. She becomes an activist for early detection of sexually predatory traits in kids through mandatory psychological screening in schools. She advocates for better follow-up treatment for victims of molestation, particularly males, who have a higher chance of becoming predators themselves. She fights for stricter law enforcement policies and permanent incarceration of repeat offenders. She supports mandatory sexual education and self-protection programmes to empower children to detect and resist potential threats and not feel ashamed to report it.

This kind of personal responsibility is actually not in the best interests of the powers that be. You see, it benefits them more when people continue to believe they are victims of random evil. They want us all to be beholden to an unjust, inhumane, earth-hostile system yet constantly surprised and go ‘Why Me?” when it fails us. They want us to continue blindly making decisions out of pride, selfishness, greed, ignorance and fear instead of contentment, responsibility, knowledge and love, thinking it will never come back to haunt us or our loved ones.

The mother in Morvant who wails to the television reporter when her son is gunned down by a trigger happy police officer did not make the connection between that and the stolen stereo system she enjoys in her house. The person afflicted with cancer, does not make the connection between it and a lifetime of nursing grudges and other toxic emotions or not loving themselves enough to screen regularly because of genetic predisposition to the disease. The parent refuses to make a connection between his own dishonesty, fear and unrealistic, intolerant religious approach to sexuality and the unwanted pregnancy of his teen daughter. Consumers do not connect their own greed to the current financial crisis.
Instead, they blame Satan or “those people” or “bad fortune” or “the opposing political party” for victimizing them.

Empowered people first learn how to forgive themselves in order to forgive others with maximum ease. Victims on the other hand feel self-pity and pretend to forgive others… but only to please.

In Part 2 we answer the dreaded- “How could God allow this?!” question. Hang tight!

1 comment:

Guanaguanare said...

Excellent. J'applaudis!

"You teach people how to treat you" reminded me of my mother saying,"Monkey know what tree to climb."

On to part 2....