Views on Forgiveness

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Cameron Yee, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    First a bit of background:

    The past couple years my notions about forgiveness have been heavily challenged. Basically I made the decision to forgive someone for something but second guess myself when I remember what happened and feel angry and hurt. I don't have a constant desire to seek restitution or "payback" but then I don't have an interest in renewing the friendship either. Well, actually a part of me would really want to, but I find that I just can't make that step. I have tried, but it's like the weight of the events and the glaring truth of how things have changed just weighs everything down. I guess that's called "baggage."

    So I'm curious about others' experiences with forgiveness, the challenges they've faced and what they have learned about it. I've learned that forgiveness does not necessarily restore trust or relationships and that forgetting is the hardest part of it. Previous things I believed about forgiveness that have been confirmed are forgiveness is a gift, an act of compassion, and can be the first step towards freedom. The thing is I wonder at times if I have rushed into it, forgiving when I wasn't ready to. But that basically reveals what I believed about forgiveness initially - that it's not an emotion, but a choice one makes. At times I wonder if forgiveness does not restore trust or relationships, then what's the point?
     
  2. Alex-C

    Alex-C Screenwriter

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    I'm sure you'll get numerous responses and an interesting discussion will ensue. I'll take the KISS approach with 4 words to live by....at first glance, they may seem silly and obvious and meaningless, but if you meditate on them, you may find that the simplest approach is sometimes the best: be true to yourself.

    best of luck.
     
  3. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    My personal philosphy:

    1) Forgive only if you want to. Forgiveness does not necessarily make you a better person, more religious/spiritual, or anything like that.

    2) You can't forgive if you're not ready to forgive. Sometimes it takes time to reach that point and it's important not to feel guilty in the mean time.

    3) Forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness. I personally do not agree with the "forgive and forget" notion. I may forgive, but I do not forget, not usually. I find that constant "forgetting" only sets a person up for repeated abuse. How can you learn from your mistakes if you "forget"?

    4) Forgive only if it makes YOU feel better. The only benefit is to yourself.
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Not forgiving allows that other person to continue to have power over your emotions. Let it go, and move on, and regain control.
     
  5. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    I agree with Patrick.....

    Forgiveness is part of being able to look ahead. I for one, feel it is very important to forgive and to accept forgiveness....... forgetting may not be a part of it and shouldn't have a bearing on it either.
     
  6. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    I would say a more appropriate phrase might be "Forgive OR Forget". I agree that forgiveness can be key to moving on, but as Leila noted you have to be ready to forgive or you can't move on. Ironically it can be easier to forgive a stranger for something than a close friend because a stranger doesn't add the element of betrayal or disappointment you get from someone you have a long history with or high expectations for. Sometimes, even though it can be painful you have to literally move on. Of course this should always be tempered with the nature of the incident (repeat offenses get harder to forgive), the value you hold on this person's friendship (some friendships are worth saving, some are not), and your overall reaction to the incident (disappointment and betrayal can be two very different reactions).

    Good luck. Another quote I have always thought was useful is, "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

    Kenneth
     
  7. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I think what has thrown me off is that in my past experiences forgiveness has lead to reconciliation or restoration of the friendship. But in this case it's very obvious that I can't spend time with the person without sacrificing my emotional health. Moving on means not being friends anymore, at least for me.

    My motivation for forgiving was mostly for the other person, but then I also did it for myself. I never doubted she was sorry for what she did, but when I finally saw the full extent of her guilt it seemed to not forgive her would have been an act of cruelty or at least an act of spite. I also wanted to move on, to be done with it. It's possible at that time I was not truly ready but enough time has passed (and will pass) that I probably have genuinely started to forgive her. Ultimately I guess I should understand that even if I forgive someone it doesn't mean the painful memories (and the natural reactions to those memories) go away. I can say for certain that the more time passes the better things become, but the requirement for that to continue is to not have contact. It's certainly clear that forgiveness is also a process, not necessarily a single act.
     
  8. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    You bring up some good points, Cameron. Everyone has. Here's my thoughts to add as well:

    Forgiveness is a two-way street. In order to forgive you must be willing to forgive, because if you don't, that animosity will fester inside your spirit and grow and manifest into something real and physical. Some people have gotten a physical form of cancer as a result of something internal eating inside of them that consumed their minds and hearts and spirits. I'm not saying that this is the case every single time, but only that it has happened in some cases.

    Forgiving means being able to go to that other person and say, "I'm sorry I hurt you like that." I can recall a time about 16 years ago when a buddy of mine and I got into a huge argument, and hurt feelings resulted from that argument. Everyone in our circle of friends could see that animosity between my friend and me, and it was drawing people back and forth. Finally he made the call to me and invited me to a get-together at his house. At first I was extremely reluctant to go, but something inside my spirit said, "Go." And just about an hour or two before I left, I finally reached the decision to go to the get-together. By the end of the evening my friend and I had time to resolve our conflict and resume the friendship. Since then he and I have grown as friends and as brothers in spirit, and in my life he's been there for me during the lowest time in my life when my dad passed away, and in the highest times in my life as my best man when April and I got married and when we welcomed Lily Grace into the world. And we still get together to this day, eat out for lunch, and catch up on things. All of that wouldn't have been possible if we hadn't forgiven each other all those many years ago.

    As I said, forgiveness is a two-way street. Both people should be willing to offer and receive forgiveness in order for reconciliation and growth to occur. However, there are some people who may never take that step forward and say, "I'm sorry I hurt you, can you forgive me?" because of their prideful spirit that is inside of them. Without delving into Biblical concerns in respect to the board moderators, it takes a one-on-one conversation to point out differences and bring forgiveness, resolution, and growth to light. If it doesn't happen, then another person should be present at the conversation to say, "You've done your part." And if it still doesn't happen, then just forgive that person and let it go. You'll have done your part, even if the other person isn't willing to accept or offer forgiveness in turn. And unfortunately some people never see that in their lives.

    And you're exactly right, Cameron, about forgiveness and trust walking hand-in-hand. It truly takes time for people to rebuild trust between each other after a conflict. And depending on the circumstances, that trust may never occur if one of the people isn't willing to see that what he or she has been doing is wrong to begin with. Again, it's a matter of doing your part and letting it go and being at peace in your heart over it.
     
  9. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    When you can forgive someone, it in no way invalidates the feelings and emotions equated with the act. And, it shouldn't.

    There is always a price for forgiveness. In Christianity, Christ suffered the price for mankinds forgiveness by dying on the cross. In your situation, the price for your forgivness is that that person has lost the relationship they had with you.

    Just because you forgive doesn't mean it never happened.
     
  10. ChadM

    ChadM Stunt Coordinator

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    OK my curiousity is peaked - WHAT HAPPENED?

    If you don't want to talk about I will forgive you.
     
  11. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Hmm...interesting notion about there being a price for forgiveness. I'll have to think about that one...In my case the price was not my friendship, since the friendship was over regardless of my forgiving her.

    As far as what happened, let me invoke the lyrics of Aimee Mann:

    But nobody wants to hear this tale
    The plot is cliché, the jokes are stale
    And baby we've all heard it all before
    Oh I could get specific but, nobody needs a catalog
    With details of a love I can't sell anymore...

    - Aimee Mann, "Invisible Ink"


    :b
     
  12. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    It also depends on what your forgiving them for.

    Im in a situation right now were a ex-friend I walked away from is trying to come back in contact with me. Will forgiving him mean I have to put up with bullshit that made me walk away in the first place.

    Its easier to forgive for minor things, but the "heavier" stuff, that can affect your life requires more thought on whether its worth it or not.
     
  13. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    My take on this is simple. The key to forgiveness is understanding - if you can understand you can also forgive. In other words, I don't think you truly can forgive anyone if you don't understand their actions.
     
  14. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    I believe if you want to forgive it's up to you since you know the full story. Some things are forgivable and to be honest some things plain aren't unless you're a diety or a saint. If you don't feel like forgiving the person don't and just simply walk away and if you think you and this person may have some form of relationship then forgive them when you're ready (no one states you must forgive now ) and not a moment too soon. If this situation was just brought up to you by the other party and it was on going for a while it might of took them a while to have the courage to confront you so it should also be assumed it will take a while for you take a while to stew out your differences to forgive them if you decide. You don't have to forgive this person if you don't want to but either way you will have to learn to live with your decision and decide on which of these you would like to live with.
     
  15. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Thanks for the responses. I would say that if I haven't forgiven her, I am well on my way, seeing that I seem to have satisfied the various criteria that you have shared. But I think I will only really know for certain when I see her someday and none of what happened matters anymore, to either of us. I do retain the hope that someday we can be friends, but I think one of the more difficult things has been accepting the fact that we probably won't be the friends we once were. With some perspective I realize this is not necessarily a bad thing, but having only known one version of the friendship it's difficult to see how we can fit into each others lives anymore. Maybe we don't or never will. I've been learning to accept that too.
     
  16. andrew markworthy

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    I think we're in danger of misunderstanding what 'forgiveness' means. To take a very black and white example, if someone steals something, then it is perfectly fair to demand recompense from the thief, regardless of whether we have forgiven the thief.

    Similarly, if someone does something bad to you, that doesn't mean that you have to accept the situation meekly and let them walk all over you. However, tit for tat retribution will do you no good either, and if anything makes things worse as you've stooped to their level. If I can make a cultural rather than a religious comment, the 'turn the other cheek' example in the Bible is often misunderstood. It doesn't mean 'be a doormat', it means you shouldn't rise to the bait. To quote the old proverb, if you go seeking revenge, dig two graves first.

    From my experience, if someone does something bad to you whom you've cared about, then walk away, give it time, and when things have simmered down, talk things over.
     
  17. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    My thoughts on forgiveness is it's something almost entirely independent from the other person. Forgiveness to me is letting go of your anger at someone and not wishing bad things or bearing ill will towards them. There are a few people who have definitely hurt me. I've forgiven them in that I don't hate them, harbor any anger or malice towards, and wish them the best in their life. I also have no desire to ever see them again. If I run into them on the street I'll say hi and chit-chat, but there's no real want or need to resume the friendship. Forgiveness is about you refusing to let what they did to you influence your own outlook on things, but it does not mean forget it happened or even that you need to talk to them. I think part of what's going on here is the fact that there are three levels of things going on. Forgiveness is internal, it just means letting go of hatred, malice, etc. The next step, reconciliation, is telling the other person of your forgiveness. "Clearing the water," so to speak. That's where the big "I forgive you" moment comes into play. Finally, that can lead to reunion, where the relationship resumes at whatever level it goes at from there.

    In my experience, forgiveness is always a good thing. It gets those feelings out of your system where they can only cause you grief, pain, and suffering. Wishing bad things on the person won't accomplish anything and certainly won't undo whatever it was that they did to you. Forgiveness is letting go of all that and refusing to let that act control your life. Reconciliation is usually a good thing as well. I like to have the water clear when possible. If not though, well such is life. I'd prefer it that way, but I can live without. I've forgiven them what they did to me, and if I never see them again, well so be it, but either way I've let go. Reunion is the most iffy of all. As I said earlier, there are plenty of people that I've forgiven and even reconciled with that I have no desire to ever see again, and that's not a bad thing. It keeps you from being a doormat and manipulated.

    So that's my take on things, always forgive, reconcile if possible, reunite only when it's wise.
     
  18. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    Forgiving someone can be a very difficult thing. Or it can be pretty easy. But it depends so much on the situation and the outcome.. and forgiviness is not given without expectations - of change and reform.

    I'll tell a brief story..

    About 10 years ago, my life was permanently altered.. A group of high school kids devised a plan: jump people in a park with a baseball bat; club them; take their money. The plan was simple: people would black out, you could rob them easily. They had robbed one person already that night.

    Me, a college kid, came wandering through.. except, instead of blacking out.. I began to scream when they hit me. Afraid that others would be aware and find the body of the first person (who was still blacked out) they decided they had to kill me. Six (or seven) hits to the skull later; stabbed four times, a busted knee, busted ribs, internal damage, dislocated eye later.. I was lifelighted to a hospital hours away. I bounced out of a coma and out of the hospital to get back into college six weeks later.. only to relapse and find myself back and forth between hospitals for a couple years [​IMG]

    Anyway, the thing is, when I came out of the coma, I couldn't remember much of what happened. I knew things were wrong, but not so much what all was wrong. It took me a long time to get my bearing. I heard about what had happened through others, and I cried a lot at night.. but kept up the better face during the day while we reworked speech skills, mobility, etc. (you'd never know that, after coming out of the hospital I went to college national speech championships and placed.. though I went back into the hospital immediately thereafter)..

    I was walked into the courtroom and I talked to the DA, police officers, and all parties. And I was given some hard choices.. do we plea bargain people? What charges to we go for? I was the one who made those choices. Without a lot of family or friends around, I walked to the courthouse daily and made my way through. I spoke to a person who bought bloodied goods I was carrying, who could be charged with purchase of stolen property. He was a young kid (about 16) who did something stupid with a clean record in his past.. he just wanted to fit in with "cool kids". I asked the DA to give him a complete pass, no prosecution (at all). He agreed to note to the court who had sold the items to him.. this was a forgone conclusion, as the kid who did this was caught hours later with a bloody baseball bat in a hotel..

    I then asked (begged) the DA to make a plea agreement with the main perpetrator. This was his 60-something felony, but it would be the first time he would be tried as an adult. He had previously been arrested for drug use, assault, theft, grand theft, etc. I made an offer: I cannot elliviate all charges; but if you agree to go fishing with me for 1 afternoon, I will argue for a lesser sentence.

    I just needed to talk to the kid and find out what drove him to make those decisions. We made a similar offer to someone else who was there. I was dead serious, and informed all attorneys. While it would require supervision, if he would meet with me, in whatever means, for one afternoon to talk, I would help him. He turned me down - which legally, was his right.. and maybe sound legal advice in a normal situation. The other person did ask for my forgiveness and while we didn't go anywhere, he let it be known that it haunted him for a long time and he would not forget what happened.

    He received a much reduced sentence. And, if he were to come to me today, this moment, and tell me he needed help, I would probably give it to him. He worked hard to turn his life around. And he knew what he did was a bad thing.

    Meanwhile, the main character in the affair got on the stand and complained that he was only this way because his step father didn't love him, etc. etc. etc. Anyway, since we couldn't mention previous felonies, he was sentenced to 7-10; he escaped prison in 2000, and was captured 7 months later. He is serving a continuing sentence for beating his girlfriend to my knowledge.

    Now, since then, I've still had to deal with the bitches of the affair; I spent time on a drug called Ergot.. which turned out a major hallucinegenic which basically drove me loopy; deal with micro strokes, worry about liver problems, and still have a knee that sucks, but I rarely find myself saying "those so & sos" .. to those I've forgiven, they are forgiven.. to the one still in prison, yeah, a big f-you to you, buddy [​IMG]

    There is a thing about forgiveness.. the second person who was literally there was just as involved. He was the one with the knife to our knowledge, he could have stopped things; but he didn't. But what he did was take a big step: he knew what he did was wrong, and he was honest with me. He told me what was up. And for that, I can forgive him. But the other, I'll never forgive.. because he didn't acknowledge what went wrong.. didn't take responsibility for himself.

    Now, for little things, like fights with my wife & kids, it's often a lot simpler.. but it has always boiled down to the same thing.. if I feel in my heart they know what the did was wrong, and they mean it when they tell me they will reform, then I have to grant forgiveness. But if my child says to me "yeah, sorry" well, that doesn't necessarily cut it. The words, and a request to be forgiven aren't the same as the contrition that's needed to make it valid.

    You'll find you'll feel much better forgiving people then not.. but occassionally, you can't. Forgiveness isn't like a pez dispenser on tap.. it has to be earned in some way; there has to be something behind why you are forgiving someone. If you forgive someone just because you want to forget something, then it's not really forgiveness.. it will stick in your craw forever because you'll know they didn't learn anything from it, did not make an effort to change, or didn't understand why you were hurt/bothered/upset by what happened. But if you ask for just that first step - just for a sign of contrition - you can feel a lot better that you're forgiving someone who wants forgiveness.. and who understands why you feel the way you do..

    And you'll sleep a lot better [​IMG]
     
  19. Drue Elrick

    Drue Elrick Stunt Coordinator

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    I would have to say that forgiveness is more you allowing yourself to move on than to forgive what someone did to you. You cannot go and undo what happened (usually) and ultimately, the issue is what baggage you want to live with. You have to decide if its worth holding on to or letting it go. It doesn't mean forgetting. It does mean letting it no longer be a persistent problem to you. You have to decide for yourself that it isn't worth the cost (mental, emotional, physical) of keeping it going.
     
  20. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    Chris,

    What a test by fire, you have had. Your past makes me feel very humble about the few remarks on the topic of forgiveness I was about to make. Your story affects perspective. I was going to say that as I get older I have learned that if I feel anger/rage, it eats me. I seem to have a clockwork progression about forgiveness, which parallels the process of grief. Usually a watershed part of the process of letting go anger and feeling ‘forgiveness' tends to coincide for me with seeing or hearing one news story similar to the horror that you were submitted to. What this does is puts my situation into a ‘perspective”. I view it in comparison to much larger issues (life and death) and this allows me to pass a cresting point of emotions, to just flip an “off” switch, moving on, nevermore feeling a painful twang regarding whatever occurred which needed forgiveness.

    I do believe those not capable of forgiving lose life quality.
    I believe that the victims of violent crime have the heaviest burden of all of us during the process, of letting go of bitterness and anger and reaching a quiet plateau of forgiveness or a truly effective compartmentalization of their life, whereupon they manage to effectively firewall the past from their current life. The issue becomes a faint echo, with time, like a picture you can stare at, with no tinge of emotion felt during the viewing.

    I admire the telling of your story, and your attempt to salvage not only your own life but the lives of the perpetrator’s, in an effort to bring forth even the faintest of good result available from the ashes of a tragedy.

    I personally believe that how we react during the subjection to perceived or real damage's to ourselves or to our psyche, has an inverse and correlating tie to what ‘sort’ of human being we are to began with.
    In other words only a naturally compassionate person, can withdraw enough from the injury and/or insult to feel a desire to understand the ‘why’ and use what understanding can be found to effect for a better resolution. A naturally bitter self-centered personality will never even make the attempt.
    You are a very fine man.

    and if I may borrow a line, "You have more courage than I have ever dreamed of owning"
     

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