Veterans for Peace Radio Hour

March 31, 2014

Forgiveness 101

Filed under: General Discussion — bobfunke @ 2:26

It is easier to be filled with spite, venom and hatred than it is to be filled with benevolence, compassion and love. Our emotions vary as we read or come across things that either revile us or we find adorable, we have been conditioned to accept the violent behavior of others as never before. Our airwaves are filled with images of horror as we sit back and take it all in from the seeming comfort of our homes, but none of us are immune from the tragedies that go on around us. We live in a near constant state of fear brought to us by TV, radio and the internet. Even our music has changed it’s tunes from love to hate and violence against others.

Can we, as a species, learn to forgive?

Forgiveness is not as complicated as it seems, but there are certain rules to forgiveness. For one thing, forgiveness is total, one cannot bring up the past offense if forgiveness is the ultimate goal, it means letting go of said offense, most of us can’t do that, scars run deep, memories break into our conscious and subconscious, taking us back to the incident that began all of the pain. It is far easier to rationalize the element that caused the pain than to let it go. Rationalization brings out the worst of us. We use it to accept our deep seated feelings of anguish. Forgiveness is nearly impossible under that kind of pressure.

Some things are so horrible, we cannot find a way to forgive an individual. The mistreatment of a child is a prime example. Who among us can forgive a child molester? Who among us can forgive a serial rapist or murderer? How can we treat a mass murderer with compassion or do we really want to in the first place? Does a Charles Manson deserve to be let out of solitary confinement?

I have tried over the years to forgive those who have done me harm, to the point of damn near killing me, so far, it has worked rather well. Endorphins are slow moving, the complete opposite of adrenaline which borders on the instantaneous. It takes us a long time to get to trust each other, and to be honest, that trust is often broken depending on circumstances that are said to be beyond our control; but being “beyond our control” is a fallacy, we all have the capability to suppress our anger, our spiteful side and look to the better angels of our nature.

I have killed in war, something I am not particularly proud of, but it was my job and a way to save the lives of those around me. To condemn me as a “murderer” might actually fit the mold. But, unless you’ve been in a firefight, an ambush, hand to hand combat, I have to ask, “do you know what it’s like to face death?”  I saved lives as well, in the same theater of war. Not all of these were American or their allies, some were VC, others were NVA. It is part of the Law of Land Warfare to treat a combatant once they are down and no longer considered a combatant. Can I hold onto animosity for 40+ years? Yes, I suppose I can, but I don’t. What is in the past, is in the past, it is far better to look toward a future where there will be no was, where forgiveness is predominant and we can all learn to live together under a sky filled with stars, hopes and dreams.

May your journey be peaceful, may you understand what it is to forgive, add wisdom to your journey and avoid those who would drive you into an adversarial life.

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