So I thought that when the spirit moves me, I might pontificate a bit - don't worry, there's politics too. :)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32This one is so hard. So so hard. I mean, how do we forgive rapists, killers, abusers of children? How do we forgive those with no sorrow for their crimes? How do we forgive the people who we choose to represent us that then do such horrific things in our names?
It helps to remember that forgiveness doesn't mean standing there and letting them abuse you. For example, I have forgiven the person who abused me. But I don't intend to ever be in his presence ever again. When I think about it, it makes me more sad than bitter or angry. I gave up the bitterness and anger a long time ago. Because holding on to that is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. If he's drowning, I'll save him (though, how, given that I don't intend to set eyes on him again, is another question). If he's on fire, I'll put him out. Like any other human being. But I will not let him hurt me or my loved ones. It's just not happening.
I'm not particularly good at forgiving people who hurt my loved ones. Myself, I can deal with that. Hurt my babies? Hurt innocent people or animals? Oh. No. I have a hell of a time letting go of that anger. I guess that's why I'm not perfect (Okay, so there are a few other reasons... :D) But I try. Sometimes. If I think of it. :)
I do think that a good MAD is useful though. A good stompy, cursing, angry rant is so good for letting go of it. Which is why when I see shit like a child soldier being tortured until they plead guilty to crimes he shouldn't even be responsible for and our government not doing a damned thing for him, rapists getting light sentences, cops not believing victims of crimes - especially women, activists being arrested for I don't even know what. It goes on and on and on.
But anger for these things is only useful if it drives us to do something about it. Vote the fuckers out of office (so much for doing away with all malice). Fight for victims' rights. Donate to good causes. Volunteer to help. Demonstrate. Write letters. Tell everyone you know what you know to be true.
And why? Why should we forgive? I know, I've asked that one a LOT. Why should I forgive Paul Bernardo, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, George W. Bush, Josef Stalin, or Adolf Hitler? They've done such evil, vile, despicable, disgusting, horrible things, to so many people. They've caused hurt and pain that are utterly immeasurable. Such complete pain. It's unimaginable to those who haven't experienced it. Do they deserve forgiveness? Hell no. Not in my estimation. I have no idea what God will do them - nor do I care to speculate. But what I know is that I don't deserve to carry around the anger and bitterness. And neither do you. Being angry and bitter makes us angry and bitter people. How awful the world is when we're angry and bitter. If we want to make the world a better place, we have to be better people. And that starts with forgiveness.
This sermon has been brought to you with ideas from so many different blogs, I couldn't possibly reference them all. But the idea of talking about forgiveness was directly from The Stay-at-Home Feminist and the well-timed Ephesians verse showing up in my widget.