Forgiving is more than words it is an action

Bird Droppings November 16, 2009
Forgiving is more than words it is an action

As I grow older I find our window in this reality is so small in comparison to all that has and will transpire. Why should we put up blinds and window coverings when we only even when the window is totally open do we get but a glimpse. I recall so many years ago my grandmother and my mother reminding us to not carry grudges to bed. To forgive before going to sleep so your rest might be an easy one. We tend to forget this in adulthood. Dr. Michael T. Garrett, former Chairman of the Guidance Department at Florida State University, in his writings on Native American thought borrows from his elders and his ancestors in discussing a similar philosophy.

“In Cherokee teachings, intention is the act itself….. That is why harmony and balance are so important in the traditional way. There is no such thing as keeping the mountains and getting rid of the valleys; they are one and the same, they exist because of one another.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

“He who forgives ends the quarrel.” African proverb

All my life I have been raised with the concept of forgiveness, within the religion we were taught and our day to day living. During school daily I watch young people who have a difficult time moving on, forgiving may be an under statement. I recall a young man could not get the class ring he wanted through our former school supplier, Jostens. They would not do a rebel flag which is in violation of the school dress code, so he finally went to Wal-Mart for his ring.
What amuses me is this student chooses to be in my class yet he knows where I stand on just such issues. I have watched him not participate in testing because our former school psychologist is not of his persuasion. This student will not specifically say that but he nearly lost his status in Exceptional Education because he refused for some time to be tested.

“Thou must be emptied of that wherewith thou art full, that thou mayest be filled with that whereof thou art empty.” St. Augustine

“This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.” Frances Bacon

Years ago as I studied religion, the act of confession impressed me. It is a physical act and while growing up theologically opposed to aspects of Confession within the Catholic Church the psychological implications of a physical act made sense. When you look at learning, most people need to do that with which they are learning in order to learn. Most people are tactile active learners. Why not be tactile active forgivers. An interesting concept as I ponder this morning.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Paul Boese

“Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes and move on.” Les Brown

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

It has been nearly nine years since a fellow teacher showed me a site featuring columns from the late writer Sydney J. Harris. As I was reading today I recalled an often used piece from his writings. Gandhi refers to weak people who can not forgive and that it takes strong people. Forgiveness is tied to the future not the past as Paul Boese states. This passage offers a rationale for why hate is so often found in fringe elements and radical groups. I have borrowed an extensive piece but this is a significant example and quite meaningful.

“Love, for example, is difficult to sustain not because it is a positive emotion, but because it is a complex one. Hate is easy to maintain for a lifetime, because it is a simple one…. Hate is a supremely simple emotion that makes it enormously attractive to a certain type of mind and personality. First, hate makes no demand on our mental processes, and doesn’t call on us to expand or change our views…. It rejects understanding, despises tact, condemns patience, and will endure no hurt or disappointment without quick revenge. Besides being the simplest of emotions, hate can also be the most fulfilling for a certain kind of person, because it provides him or her with a meaning to life, something to oppose, to blame, to relieve the sense of frustration or failure. Most of all, because of its seductive simplicity, hate seems to remove the need for reasoning (an intolerable burden to many people) and for any of its auxiliary efforts, such as reading, analyzing, estimating, and judging. Hate has only one function and only one object….Love might be compared to the building of a tall and elaborate sandcastle, taking many hours of painstaking effort, cooperation, balance, and persistence – and hate might be compared to the foot that comes along and with one vicious or thoughtless kick destroys in a moment what has been built up. There is so little love in the world compared with the amount of hate – both expressed and latent – not because it is harder for us to be positive than negative, but because it is harder to combine and coordinate a complex emotion in a creative act than to live blindly by blaming and attacking some “enemy” for our dissatisfactions and disappointments. It takes dedicated genius years to build a great cathedral; any desperado can bomb it to obliteration in a second. Why shouldn’t hate, being so much easier, be so much more popular? “ Strictly Speaking, the personal columns of Sydney J. Harris

Normally I try not to borrow quite that much from an article or author but this is powerful stuff. We are living in times when desperados want to blow up cathedrals; themselves and frustrated bullies want to step on sand castles. I remember years ago watching after building sand castles on the Naples Florida beach how some children would just go and destroy them when others left. I recall a few days back when a class assignment and a young man who is functionally illiterate came together. We did timelines which is often a good way to get kids talking about issues that are holding them back. It will often lead into forgiveness.
At first he stated he had many things so bad he couldn’t put down he did not want anyone to know, and with him anything is possible. But eventually in his crude way he did a time line and avoided divulging anything other than he was born. So we had point one and went from there. He labeled point two as bad, three through five good and bad six good, seven through eleven bad and twelve good. So I am faced with a timeline with points specifically placed between birth and today with good, bad and good and bad as explanations.
This is a child who thinks he is so bad and has even said he was the devil’s son on more than one occasion. I recalled him as a small child and he was actually worse then. I watched one of my other students actually design a logo for her timeline and add art and flowers and colors. I know her back ground as well and it is little different than the other as for trauma and events. Both included losing parents both had arrests and jail time, both had events that for most would be considered horrible. One can’t think about it and the other has moved on. One is building new castles and one is still stepping on everyone else’s he can find.

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” William Wadsworth Longfellow

As I journeyed outside a few minutes back there was little light save for an immense sky filled with stars. The air was chilled and clear and thousands upon thousands of stars greeted me. As I quickly found constellations and individual stars before my bare feet were frost beaten it amazed me at how insignificant we are. Each of us is a mere speck in the universe as we go about our days. Each of us however is still integral to each other person beside us and in front of us. Often I use the example of a jig saw puzzle and as I wandered yesterday and on one occasion at a book store looked through puzzles each more complex than the other it reminded me that we too are complex and far to often the simple answer is only a Band-Aid till more complicated procedures can be fulfilled. So sitting and pondering where today leads and why always are big questions and looking at the news with the politics as always of governments and politicians it is a wonder anything happens in this world. One day maybe I will not have to end with please keep those in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

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