I have some brief thoughts on forgiveness after a sermon on the subject at my church yesterday:
Forgiveness is not trendy. We love to collect “receipts” of anything problematic a celebrity has said, every disagreeable a politician has made, or every mistake made in the heat of a moment as if we’re Anubis, weighing a heart against a feather to determine if someone will ascend to the afterlife. When the families of Dylann Roof’s victims said they forgave him, the discourse asked, why were African-Americans always expected to forgive their tormentors?
I understand it, and agree forgiveness has been often abused to perpetuate white supremacy and patriarchy (you may scoff at a Christian realising his beliefs perpetuate patriarchy, but I know from observing new atheism that an unforgiving philosophy can reinforce it too). We were read the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, which I had never heard before, and it reminded me forgiveness does not necessarily result in absolution. It appeared Christ felt absolution could be rescinded if the perpetrator carried on misbehaving.
I believe we can practice forgiveness by expressing sorrow and pity rather than anger towards those filled with hate. Practice self-care on Twitter by blocking racists, but words have power, so do not think, “Fuck that guy,” but rather, “Pity they are so uneducated.” That may strike some as snide, but it’s still better.
Anyway, the sermon directed me to the Forgiveness Project, which collects stories for you to further reflect on: