On Forgiveness

Every one in life is wronged by some one at one time or the other. Some wrongs are trivial and just shrugged away instantly, Some cause a little longer friction but matters are never-the-less resolved sooner or later leaving no rancor on either side. There are some serious wrongs which may or may not be caused willfully but result in grievous physical or mental injury to the wronged person with lasting effects on the wronged person’s own and family life. To save face or to cover guilt , the perpetrator does not own up responsibility and even blames the wronged person of having brought the trouble upon himself and bad-mouths the wronged person socially. Long term estrangement between the parties is the inevitable result.

I am talking here of cases which happen in closed social circles and cannot be taken to court

Any estranged person cannot help brooding over the matter from time to time, especially the one who is aggrieved. The matter affects his equanimity of mind, his social behaviour and even outlook on life. He soon discovers a very grim fact of life: that there is no unbiased reaction among mutually known persons and if the matter comes up before a third such person, the reaction is more likely to be based on considerations of how his own interest is best served by standing with either of the parties involved.

The wronged person is confronted with some moral choices. First: Forgive and forget. This choice is even blessed by Jesus who wants us to forgive people’s trespasses (and God will forgive ours). But unilateral forgiveness, one finds, cannot help relieve the aggrieved person’s misery, especially when the party that has done wrong shows no remorse and continues offensive behaviour, let alone seek forgiveness. The option seems unearthly.

Second: there is the Hindu belief in the theory of Karma. According to this, one has to pay for one’s karma in this life itself or any subsequent life but there is no forgiveness. The myth goes that Bhishma (of Mahabharat) had to suffer lying on a bed of arrows, awaiting death, because of something he had done 101 lives before the current one.

Third: Confucious asks: With what shall you recompense a person who does good if you recompense with good a person who does wrong?

Fourth: There is the old Moses’ law of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for eye.Even though Societies today are bound by State made laws, there is no dearth of people taking law into their own hands. In fact, in today’s Society demanding instant results, people are so much on edge, that even a slight altercation or brush on road can lead to murder. This is, however, something every sane person shall condemn and never wish for.

There may be other moral or practical options but in the serious situation I have outlined in para 1 above, the wisest course appears to me to be to bear with the hurt and , if one is a believer, live with the hope that there will be some recompense, divine or otherwise, and rectification .Simultaneously,one should not take any active steps out of ill-will for the wrong doer.(this will be closest to forgiveness as advocated by Jesus). One has to live with the realisation that there is no selfless judgement in inter-personal relations; so one can never expect universal sympathy. Also in adopting any particular course of action,every person has his own personal limitations, so there may be a better option, but not suited to the person involved.However, one can always hope and pray for guidance.

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One Response to On Forgiveness

  1. cj says:

    Thought provoking Thinking of Mahabharta would be interesting to look at Karna who was wronged not once but many times over and that too when Krishna was around. Makes one feel a little forlorn

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