Welcome to stren #59. This stren explains why forgiveness is one of the most powerful of all mental skills, perhaps the most. I believe popularizing the skill of forgiveness is essential to attain peace of mind and create peace in the world. See if you agree.
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These are perhaps the most important words ever spoken. Forgiveness = for + giving. Forgiveness is a powerful, high-energy form of love. Love is energy whose expression adds a positive experience to the world. It is a gift of our own creation for the benefit of an “other” and our self. Love and forgiveness are primarily human qualities because we create them using our unique language-equipped cortical brain. For the same reason, we are also distinguished by the degree we engage in resentment and hate, bigotry, prejudice, blaming others and ourselves (guilt), harmful confrontation, and war. Please consider my explanation of the validity of this insight.
Destructive aggression is historically the basic means by which earth’s creatures (us included) sustain the life cycle, establish a territory, obtain food, reproduce, and protect their young. We inherently act to serve our self and those we identify as “our family,” often at the expense of others. We are born pre-scripted to deal with not I and them with little regard for their well-being. Our motto at birth is, “I want what I want when I want it.” Imagine how our gene’s message would be expressed in words:
The world is for your benefit, to provide your needs and wants. Seek immediate pleasure; avoid immediate pain. If it feels good, tastes good, looks good, smells good, or sounds good, take it if you can. The well-being of what is not me or not my tribe does not matter.
Nature’s way, survival of the fittest, is not a strong supporter of forgiveness. Quite the opposite! It may better be described as an advocate of “fortakeness” = for + taking. Power to dominate to obtain one’s needs is crucial in a savage environment. Nature’s way is essentially amoral, self-centered, and impatient. It advocates both constructive and destructive aggression.
Minus numbers Plus numbers
-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 -0- +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10
Hate ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ neutral ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ ↔ Love
Forgiveness → → → → Love
Forgiveness is an act of love. Picture an unbroken line starting at minus ten (-10), diminishing to zero (0), and continuing to plus ten (+10). Minus ten represents the most intense hate or resentment. Forward movement lessens hate, crosses the indifference area at zero, and proceeds to the most intense experience of love at plus ten. Hate is the more extreme tension of resentment due to real or imagined hurt. Any degree of forgiveness moves our strained feelings towards the love end of the scale. It decreases the tension of sustained resentment. Forgiveness is the special energy that converts harmful aggression into beneficial action. In addition to preventing destructive confrontation, forgiveness frees us from carrying a persistent burden - the heavy load of resentment. I consider forgiveness the highest expression of love because it magically transforms resentment and hate into love.
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