One forgives to the degree that one loves. Francois de La Rochefoucauld
An interesting aspect of forgiveness is highlighted by La Rochefoucauld, when he proclaims that the ability to forgive is directly proportionate to our ability to love. If we stop to pause and examine our own behavioral pattern we might find that his observation is almost spot on. The most simplistic example is the mother’s ability to forgive her child whatever the crime and that is just reflective of the deep love she has for her child.
We may be tempted to state that we have experienced sharp jibes, a nasty scolding and perhaps a caning in extreme cases from those who love us very very deeply and so we wonder if that is their way of expressing their love? There may be exceptions like some people having a quick temper or others adhering to near impossible moral / behavioral parameters and then can be pretty sharp in their outburst. Yet, the vast majority of those whose forgiveness includes appropriate punishment actually are expressing their love and seek to provide the deterrents to ensure that you are aware of the mistake and will make efforts to correct yourself. A good teacher who is relative strict, is in fact a blessing for many, for we value the discipline much later in life, though during our school days we may have taken a complete dislike and antipathy to him/ her.
The mistake many make is in equating forgiveness with love. Yes when we love we are duty bound to ensure that the forgiveness must be in inverse proportion to the crime for that is a mark of showing our deep love for the person. If we equate forgiveness with love, there is a very real danger that our love blinds us to the infractions of those we love. We would also be siding with the wrong doer and thereby stunting his/ her ability to discern wrong doings and worst of all complete forgiveness without punishment would embolden the guilty to wrong rationalize his/ her act and falsely believe that their act is legitimate.
So that bring us to another dimension of forgiveness; the correlation between punishment and forgiveness. Punishment should be in proportion to the infraction and that would be the right measure of forgiveness which in turn is equivalent to the love that a person shows to another.
Remember: “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”Paul Boese
- How would you deal with the following
- Your younger brother is caught telling lies.
- Your best friend gives you a black eye because of a misunderstanding.
- What punishment would you suggest (if you’re a teacher / a parent/ a classmate / counselor)for students who do not do their home assignment. Would your punishments vary depending on which role you choose from the roles given in the bracket?
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