13 February 2015

Have you thought of forgiving?

This is the twentieth article in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you! Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

There are so many wrongs in this world.  All of us have been wronged by someone at some point in our lives.  We wrong others too, although we don’t like to admit it.  Sometimes people ask for forgiveness, say they are sorry.  Sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they won’t even accept that they have wronged us.  Most times we cannot force someone to admit wrongdoing.  Most times we can’t demand that the wrongdoer say ‘sorry’.  But at all times we can forgive. 

The other day I remembered a film I had seen about 15 years ago, ‘Smoke Signals’.  A friend of mine, half Cuban and half Native American recommended it to me.  ‘It’s just us, brother,’ he said. ‘Our ways, our brand of humor,’ he added. 

There was enough to laugh in the movie.  But there were moments that I remember again and again for they made me stop and think. Even today when I remember, I stop, the world stops and I see everything around me differently.  It was that powerful.  The story was about fathers and sons.  Well, it was about other things too, but there was a son and there was a father, the son had a friend who knew how to tell a story.  The friend, whose name is ‘Thomas Builds-the-Fire’ is the observer and the narrator in the film.  At the end, he makes the following observation.

How do we forgive our fathers, maybe in a dream?  Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often, or forever, when we were little?  Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous or because there never seemed to be any rage there at all. And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning, for shutting doors, for speaking through walls, or never speaking, or never being silent? Do we forgive our fathers in our age or in theirs? Or in their deaths, saying it to them, or not saying it?”

Do we ever ask ourselves ‘should I forgive?’ or do we ask ‘why should I forgive?’  Do we ever ask ourselves whether in fact there is something to forgive, whether the person concerned was even aware that he or she had wronged us? What do we lose when we forgive?  Maybe what we lose is giving back hurt for hurt we received.  Maybe what we lose is the chance of being compensated for whatever we lost.  The thing with forgiving is that it is a ‘give’ and when we give we lose or we have less with us than we had before or so we are made to believe. 

Forgiving, however, is by itself a gift we give ourselves.  We gift ourselves peace of mind.  We gift ourselves a mind and heart that is free of anger and hatred.  It is a gift we give those who we forgive because then they are at peace and it is a gift we give the world because we’ve effectively laid to rest some element of anger, vengefulness and ill-feeling. 

Most importantly, when we begin to consider forgiving someone we are at the same time making a conscious effort to understand that someone.  We really cannot tell why someone is cold and we are sometimes uncomfortable when we receive too much warmth – for example a schoolboy or schoolgirl would often cringe if his or her father or mother were to hug and kiss them as they drop them in school.  It is embarrassing, but maybe, just maybe there’s so much love that the particular parent can’t help but show it.  Maybe also, it is an awkward way of saying ‘I may have not shown you enough love, I may have been too harsh last night, but please, please believe me, there’s nothing more precious to me in this world than you’. 

It might sound odd but if you think about it, even though we love our fathers and mothers to the point that we cannot even imagine having a different father or mother, they are the people we find hardest to forgive.  The beautiful thing is that if we can forgive our parents then we can forgive the entire world.  And who knows, perhaps by way of thanks the world might forgive us too.  

Other articles in this series


Anonymous said...

Do YOU actually live what you write? Do you have the heart to forgive Malinda?

AJ said...

I think we all have to be true to ourselves and be able to reconcile to the good the bad and ugly within us. If we were to truly analyse any conflict it is because we as individuals and a group have been unable to convey our thoughts to the other party and feel affronted that the other party to the conflict cannot see our side of the story!It is our inbuilt pride sometimes to the extent of blind stubborness makes us believe that we should not concede when we are wrong. It takes a lot of guts to admit to one's mistakes committed genuinely. In a society where fabrications of truth are being produced at random, where truth,quasi truth and fiction have merged into a murky reality, it is indeed difficult to define the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Parenting is an art that requires ample patience, give and take and is one of the few responsibilities that you cannot shirk till the day you die! You realize this when you become a parent yourself! till then it is about encroachment of personal space not understanding my point of view etc.

It also does not mean that parents have the right to think that they own their children and expect them to do as they want. It is a fine dividing line and should be treated with caution. However, that does not give either side to use emotional blackmail. constant engagement even sometimes, arguments should be taken in the correct spirit! End of it you should be able to move on without rancour! for life is short, think about the time wasted wishing for pointless things, it could be used to convey what you think, whether your thankful, hurt or sorry! This is what makes humans unique.We should take the opportunity to express our true feelings to another being while they are with us and not when they are no more!

We should also be able to admit to ourselves that we have erred when we have and commend ourselves when we do good in a genuine manner. It is this principle that should be inculcated into the society, which is what is sadly lacking in this modern day and age where so many communication avenues exists! We use it a medium to propagate fallacious stories 90-95% of the time, why can we not use it as a tool to educate all on good concepts? If not the tool shall soon evolve into a weapon to harm another! Is this what we wish for as Society? As a Society I believe that we have lost the plot and that we will use any measure to gain what we want by hook or by crook.Will this be our lasting legacy? will human values be subjugated over material and opportunistic needs? If so in the very near future we would see our future generation getting an education through holograms as to how to conduct oneself! We are indeed in danger of becoming slaves to the very tools that were created to serve us!It has become the case of the tail wagging the dog.

Human values should rise above all else for a society to flourish, if not it would only be material development which would result in an increase in avarice. We should be able practice what we preach, we are sorely lacking in this area. Rather than finding another's fault it is always good to be self critical of oneself and admit it when your wrong and apologise for it. It is indeed a lot to stomach however, it also sets you free from the burden of harboring festering feelings! the sense of freedom that arises from it is priceless!The truth shall always set you free. It is time tested and proven.

sajic said...

'Forgiving' is the easier part. As you said we can be at peace with ourselves. 'Forgetting' is not so simple-the first is of the heart, the latter of the mind.