MORE Thoughts about forgiveness

Last week, I sent an article about forgiveness–imploring you to forgive people for their transgressions. This week, I wanted to follow-up and share responses with you.

Bob S.

During my 51-year career, I was often asked, “Bob, how do you know so much?” My reply was always, “Because I have made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.” To feel embarrassed, guilty, stupid, or ashamed does not enable a person to process what has been learned, and move forward with that knowledge.

My response:

I too learn the most from making mistakes. And yet, I strive not to make them.

Marilyn S.

Love your articles. Thank you for the mistakes one. As a pianist, I value the mistakes, indicating where practice is needed the most, and then go on from there. We learn to be better by making these mistakes, in all parts of life.

My response:
Amen.

Suzanne S. and others

The quote attributed to Mother Teresa was actually the words of Dr. Kent Keith. I know this was an inadvertent mistake on your part, and I forgive you. 🙂

My response:
I goofed! Indeed. Apparently she had a version of these words in her room in Calcutta. The last lines about God, though, are neither from Dr. Keith nor Mother Teresa. “In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Josh G.

Loved this one. Someone this week literally chided me with the words, “What were you thinking?” It was so validating to read your words on that particular line.

My response:
Makes you wonder what they were thinking!

James K.

From Reddit: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” An eponymous law, named after Robert J. Hanlon, Hanlon’s Razor is a philosophical razor which suggests a way of eliminating unlikely explanations for human behavior.

My response:
Shultz describes a hierarchy. At first we think someone we disagree with is missing information. If they have the information and still disagree with us, we assume they have some mental deficiency. Finally, if we know they have the facts and are mentally competent, then we assume that they are malicious.

Linda K.

*Every single time* I go to type the word “Rabbi,” I type “Rabbit.” I can’t be the only one….

My response:
<insert rabbit emoji>

Brian H.

A speaker I once heard said that he gave himself 10 mistakes each day and allowed carryovers! His point, of course, was that we will make mistakes so we should forgive ourselves up front, correct those that we become aware of and move forward positively. I would extend his thought to give others 10 mistakes each day as well (with carryovers).

Jesus said it well (no, I’m not Christian, but there are good teachings in the Bible). He was asked how many times one should forgive a transgressor and replied, “Not seven times but seventy times seven times.” I guess he meant you can get mad on the 491st time. 🙂

My response
This reminds me of the “1000 in the corner” exercise included as part of my patience course, although I require 509 more moments before getting mad. See more here.

Catherine C.

This message was important to me. I have made so many mistakes over the years, some unintentional and some intentional. Some I could correct and some not.

It is very hard to forgive murderers and political leaders that promote division and hate, but I will try. For my own sanity and well-being, I’ll try.

My response
It is very, very, very hard to give up our hate. It takes being willing to give up our hate. James Baldwin wrote, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

Rebecca A.

Do we forgive Trump? I see the faces of the children, and it will take a while to forgive.

My response
Yes. I’m afraid that we must forgive all those we see as transgressors. This is not to say that we are to accept their actions – we can and should still hold people accountable for immorality.


Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. –
Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Let me paint a course of action via an example of what forgiveness looks like: hundreds of members of two of the congregations that were attacked in the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh last year, have written to the U.S. Attorney General, asking that the government not seek the death penalty, and members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community are encouraging people of faith to write letters to 
the U.S. Attorney General asking him not to seek the death penalty
 
Attorney General William Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
 
Write that letter, Rebecca.
You don’t need to mail it.

Few problems are solved by an email your in-box.


This is an exception.

40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

Wonderful! You did it. Look for an email soon! (Unless you want to work on your patience, of course.)