Forgiveness is not something I can negotiate. Like becoming a hero, forgiveness is something I know nothing about when I embark on a courageous mission based on nothing but making right, the injustice I have created.
Injustice is defined by the act of advancing one’s own standing at the expense of another. As a form of colonization it can go unchecked until a different part of one’s character elects to respond to said injustice with compassion and reparations.
Once the center of my values are made aware of its negative actions, either externally or through self-reflection, a choice is set in place.
That binary choice is either; am I going to advance my position in life through manipulation, coercion, extraction and falsification, or, am I committed to moving forward only through doors that were opened from the other side, to refine myself as to be seen as worthy of other people’s teachings, to stand in my own silence knowing I am complete and need nothing from others to be at peace.
We all start our lives needing a lot from our environment to survive, we have to pull from others at a volume they will respond to, the volume we must maintain is defined by the attention we were willfully given by our caregivers.
As we grow older we learn to be self sufficient, we learn to be team players, even to add value and share what we have made with our own hands.
On this road we stumble and trip and fall all over ourselves as we grapple with the fear of what we can accomplish by ourselves and who we still must rely on.
It’s on this road I make my choices on who I want to really be, not who I say I am, but the true representation of who I am through the actions I take. Some actions may be big and impulsive and other actions may not be glamorous or attract much fanfare, they may even be known only to one other person, but choice or not, action has had to have happened. In there is where I struggle. In there is where I effect others, good or bad.
Forgiveness isn’t a barter expected after an apology made as an attempt to pay back the price for something already taken. Forgiveness isn’t a salve for the pain of knowing harm was already done, to calm one’s inner guilt. From the other, forgiveness isn’t something held hostage as a carrot for wanted compliance.
Making right an injustice then is an willful choice to live a life of peace. To give back the bounty taken, to slowly empty one’s pirate cave full of treasure, to dismiss and remove the skeletons hired to guard that cave, then to walk out onto the beach in the sunshine and do some fishing.
We don’t get to bury the treasure we’ve accumulated, to make it go away, to throw it in the ocean to be out of sight, it has to be returned. Even if it’s one shop-lifted candy-bar at the bottom of a backpack, it is a dark spot that detracts from the light of who we are.
An apology then is to open a listening with the victim of one’s thievery, to know their experience with what it was like to have been taken from, to know that what was taken may never be returned because of how the act of taking it, may have destroyed the very object of value. The action needed is to open one’s self to the full measure of what it must have felt like for the other person to experience what had happened, to ask for as much detail that is needed to drain that experience to a place of equilibrium, maybe not resolution but to a place of some form of their own completion.
We’ve all been hurt, taken from, colonized, abused, been left out, had our dreams destroyed, and been ignored. We all have taken what we thought we deserved, pulled for something we thought we could get, stepped over a line poorly drawn and did what we thought we needed to do to survive.
Hopefully at some point we make contact with a calling to start giving the bullion all back. If one day a person approaches, with a desire to make something right, to honestly be accountable… know that it wasn’t easy. Maybe there are times we have to live with people who struggle with returning the things they have taken, is there a question there that could make it softer when they hint that they did wrong, a “Would you like to offer an apology” may be in order.
Forgiveness, like being a hero is something that hangs in the ether, it’s a feeling of resolution, it’s a feeling exchange. We cannot expect forgiveness as we lower ourselves in front of the sword of justice, unknown is the measure of the havoc one caused, and the exchange of justice to make it right. There are no excuses as one exposes the bare back of one’s neck, eyes to the ground, giving full agency to the sword, to meter out its furry or to bend to its compassion.
Kneeling before justice is a choice for peace. No amount of bullion in a cave can buy the privilege to avoid it. If we really want inner peace, we have to start the hard work of living only from the gifts that others willfully give us.
For ourselves, forgiveness is also a letting go of one’s own trauma, to release one’s attachment to it as a metric of self-worth, apology or not, we all control our own forgiveness. We can forgive everyone if we want. We can even give silence to all who ignore what they have taken.
As our life evolves, once we’ve cleared the cave of our colonized bounty, we are free from the demons we justify for taking it, we are free from the payroll of the guardians of the treasure and the skeletons buried with it.
Peace then is pure forgiveness, of ourselves, of those around us and of the long journey from being a child to our highest form of expression.