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Forgiveness-Is it really divine?

Forgiveness-Is it really divine?

By Dr. Raju Hajela
President and Physician at HUM
 To err is human, to forgive divine… is an old phrase that a lot of people endorse. Forgive and forget is another catch phrase that people use to move forward in life if something undesirable has happened in their lives. Have you considered though that two problems with the word – forgive – are that it sets up a hierarchy of someone taking the high road to forgive the one who has done wrong or been ‘bad’; and once you forgive or seek forgiveness then the past is left behind (forgotten)?
My first memory of this word ‘forgive’ goes back to Grade 1 at Mount Carmel Convent school in Lucknow, India, where I grew up, as we had to do the Lord’s Prayer every morning – “… forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” At the time, I did not even know English well enough to consider what it meant but I have learned a bit since.   Trespass is really a verb that means boundary crossing, when someone enters a space that is otherwise personal without invitation. In times gone by, I remember seeing signs on properties – “No Trespassing”!
So, if someone crosses our boundary, what happens? We would naturally have feelings ranging from anger, hurt, sadness, emotional pain etc. and may even get into a fight that is internal – in our head – to say something or not? Or external – physical or an emotional verbal exchange. Assertiveness is the art of being able to state our perspective in a calm manner or at certain times not say anything at all, except to appreciate that whatever boundary was crossed just needs to be reworked – for example, if I feel repeatedly disrespected by someone, I can talk to them if it is possible in a congenial manner or not spend time with them in circumstances where it is likely to happen. Forgiveness can at times take people back repeatedly to those situations that continue to harm.
In fact, feelings of hurt, sadness, anger etc. do get etched in memory, where they may be triggered more and more, each time a similar situation is encountered. So, a healthier thing to consider would be to remember and accept. What that means is – remember the circumstances and the feelings; and talk about them in a safe manner with the individual only if there is receptiveness on the other side but more importantly with others who understand to gain clarity. Acceptance says to embrace powerlessness over people, places and things that I cannot change. Once I do that, I have a chance at Serenity! Further, I can then focus on changing the things that I can, such as establishing and sticking to boundaries myself. Enforcing boundaries is actually control and violation of the first part of the Serenity Prayer!
Seeking forgiveness, can invite more shame. So, I don’t believe in forgiveness… there is nothing divine in it for me… my motto is ‘Remember and Accept’ with assertiveness and boundaries!!