1000 people = 1000 wonders
I know, many will call forgiveness a virtue right off the bat, but let’s just take a moment. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The fact is, nothing in this life is quite so straightforward. Everything is this and that, with a bit more of this or a bit more of that. So let’s just take a deep breath and look at this rationally.
Why is forgiveness generally seen as a virtue? There are many theories, but I think it all boils down to the fact that we all make mistakes and forgiveness is like the safety net. We like to know that when we err, we will have something to fall back on, that others will forgive us, will not judge us too harshly, and that we will not be humiliated and humbled because of a mistake.
Then there is forgiving for oneself. It is important to forgive, not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, but so that we do not carry the burden of their error more than we absolutely must. Forgiving is liberating for the forgiver.
This is all true and wonderful. We all make mistakes. That’s a fact. We all need forgiveness, and we all need to forgive. If we do not forgive, we retaliate or revenge, and that just leads to a vicious cycle. So, you don’t have to be a genius or think too hard why forgiveness is a virtue.
However, in my line of work, and in my personal life, I’ve seen a lot of people do a lot of bad stuff because they believe forgiveness is guaranteed. Forgiveness from people, God, and everything else they believe in, everyone and everything will forgive. They can also explain why they believe they will be forgiven. The excuses range from reasonable to completely dumb to pure evil. Such as:
A poor man who is hungry steals food — a reasonable explanation for a negative deed. The man did not make a mistake. He does not claim he made a mistake. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but he will try to explain it in terms of ‘necessity’ and hope we understand.
A man wants a yacht, he buys a yacht, then he can’t afford to keep the yacht, so he steals and claims he was using the yacht for fishing — not so reasonable, plus add lying to his list of errors. This man does not feel like he made a mistake, but he still sounds like he depended on our forgiveness.