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1/2/13 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 3:03 PM
1/2/13 questions and discussion

1-what is the meaning of life?3
2-what if all the good jobs disappear?3
3-will it be good for America to legalize marijuana?2
4-do you have to forgive your family?4


do you have to forgive your family?

Rachel: I have two siblings and I struggle to agree with them, find myself doing things to save the relationship. We’re born with family, no choice in the matter. Are we morally obligated  to try harder with family? Is forgiveness deserved, earned, does it just make it easier.

Myron: are you saving yourself by forgiving somebody? For example, you have a terrible spouse, get a divorce, but still have them stuck in your mind. So forgiveness, then, is for us.

Rachel: it’s easy to say yes. To move out. Sometimes it’s out of sight out of mind. We don’t have to forgive if they're out of our lives. 

Jon: what are good reasons for forgiving?

Rachel: when they're sorry. It’s a process. Blind forgiveness vs. looking for it for years. Blind forgiveness is easier than dealing with it. Dealing with it is acknowledge it in detail. Forgive and "move on" would be another reason to forgive. Self preservation.

Art: you don’t have to forgive family. I have a brother who prefers others to us. We’re pretty much all in happenstance, products of our environment and heredity. So we’re all basically innocent. William James thought that all thinking was instinctual. If we’re all out of control of DNA, family, neighborhood, then we’re all innocent. We must accept things.

Rachel: then what’s the purpose of the social contract?

Art: the contract is not working.

Rachel: what about when people hurt people?

Art: they must be controlled.

Jon: your brother too?

Art: no.

Mike: I’m not a forgiveness person, it’s overrated. It comes from Christianity and warm fuzzy stuff. Females are supposed to be forgiving, maternal. But if somebody has been doing great harm, we forgive to move on without being made whole again.

Jon: can not forgiving cause us to obsess about the harms done to us?

Mike: I’m not quick to forgive. I’m quick to move on. 

Rachel: what if they don’t know they've done harm?

Mike: that’s setting oneself up for a theatrical thing. Going through the motions of confrontation, confession and forgiveness. Someone with a silver tongue who can cry on cue can manipulate this situation. A good case can be made for not forgiving. Im not talking about revenge.

Jon: the main character in the TV show In Treatment is a man haunted by memories of his father abandoning the family, leaving him -- a teen at the time -- to care for his mentally ill mother. This character seems to have made all his life choices out of that abandonment and forced caring for a sick person. Might forgiveness help him? Then there are what are labelled "Resilient" children who in spite of serious abuse manage to live adult lives without such baggage. I am told such people are not common, but for those few, forgiveness probably means little.

Mike: I’ve spent a fair amount of time around psychopaths. It's a daily exercise for a psychopath to convince you to forgive them. I’d like to raise the question about that mother with the guns (Sandy Hook Elementary shooting). She got a nice divorce settlement so could do lots of volunteer work, including helping her boy. She was in denial. Her death was a good outcome for her. If she had lived, would we forgive her?

Jon: she should have known what her son might do?

Mike: yes

Art: really?

Mike: not necessarily with guns but she knew he was dangerous.

Eric: I’m not a big fan of unconditional forgiveness. Too "Oprah" for me. It may even be unhealthy. But I do think it’s important. There are different levels of it. The first level of behavior required for forgiveness is an apology. The second is repentance. The third, restitution. Remorse is very important. For some things that’s all that’s needed. 

Jon: is personal offense required for forgiveness? Should forgiveness be unconditional?

Rachel: is it forgiveness if they are oblivious that we’ve forgiven them?

Eric: that’s the conventional wisdom with which I don’t agree. I have not forgiven that driver who cut me off, causing that accident 10 years ago! I don’t plan to. I do realize there is nothing I can do about it. It’s not forgiveness for me to let it go. 

Rachel: what if that person were a relative of yours? Is there a moral obligation then to forgive?

Eric: I feel healthier for not being a big believer in forgiveness.

Mike: I'm thinking about Rachel's use of the word oblivious. Suppose I use demeaning language here and one of you confronts me afterwards. I can learn from that, you can feel good about being assertive. But the bell has already been rung. The Bible is big on forgiveness. That gets the ball rolling. It’s a nice construct. But the Bible also tells us that women are chattel.

Jon: does this confuse forgiveness with forgetting? 

Mike: not forgetting is a crude kind of survival. 

Jon: do you think differently when it's about family?

Mike: time seems to mellow out all troubles.

Rachel: we create relationships daily and when sharing lives we get differing feedback depending on whether they agree with us. If we forgive it has to be for ourselves. To cleanse ourselves.

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