Sunday, September 11, 2011

Healing The Wound

There is a part of the creed which I live by that says that I need to forgive those who have harmed me, not because of what that forgiveness does for those others, but because the act of forgiveness heals me. The carried grudge does not harm the person against whom I carry it, nor does any forgiveness benefit him; he does not even know of the existence of either. The carried grudge sickens me and forgiveness is the cure. I know this to be true because I have experienced it.

On this anniversary of 9/11, and as I watch the rising tide of Islamaphobia in this nation, I am saddened that this is a lesson that we as a nation cannot learn. We still live with the unhealed scar of the Twin Towers because we cannot forgive. All of the revenge in the universe, all of the foreign nations invaded and conquered, all of the Al Queda leaders imprisoned, tortured and killed, all of the Taliban strongholds brought down, all of the trillions of dollars spent, all of the civil liberties surrendered and all of the American lives expended, cannot heal this raw and festering wound.

The simple act of forgiveness, costing nothing, could do so much.

5 comments:

Barbara B. Solbrig said...

Today's Gospel in the lectionary cycle just happened to be Matthew 18:21-35.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if among all those "moments of silence" today, even one had been to reflect on this simple but vital truth. The heart of Jesus' teachings, the most pragmatic and important, yet all the religious zealots in politics call it idealistic, and say we have to live in the real world. What world, I wonder, was Jesus living in? Wasn't his birth marked by Herod's act of terror, killing all the new born boys in Judea, causing Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt? Was forgiveness any less practical in that world than in ours?

Arthur said...

Ah, but is DOES cost something, something very expensive, something very few people are willing to pay. It costs you your pride. When you forgive, you give up being right, the ability to say "I told you so", the self-righteous superiority of being the aggrieved party.
Which is probably the whole point: pride is the first of the "deadly sins", and the root of all the others. Being "holier than thou" and putting others in their place will always rot the soul. Being mean and vicious about it only makes the moral cancer grow faster and spread further.
All great moral teachers have said to forgive, precisely because you have to forgive for your own moral and spiritual health. None of them were well received on that point; giving up ones superiority is never easy, however necessary. So no, forgiveness was no more "practical" in the first century than it is now.

bruce said...

It is very hard to forgive, and human nature often tends not to.

One can't help but wonder how many Muslims would follow this idea.. They may have a double dose, becasue they have to forgive both the Islamist perpitrators and the US/etc for they have done in response.

They have suffered more than we have at the hands of foreigners and their own.

bruce said...

I just saw Arthur's comment... perhaps that's why they say "to forgive is Divine" because of God's forgiveness of our sins via Christ, thus forgiveness is a divine act.

Very hard to do.

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