Friday, August 15, 2008

On Forgiveness (Note to Self)

Albert Einstein, upon hearing that one of his scientific colleagues (I forget which one) was very modest about his achievements, quipped that the man had nothing to be modest about.

As modesty without having anything to be modest about is fatuous, as to stop complaining when you have nothing to complain about is no virtue, so it is with forgiveness. We should be modest. We should stop complaining. We are commanded to forgive. Yet the underlying reality is, WHO AM I to think anybody else needs forgiveness from me? What entitled me to judge or condemn that person in the first place? It’s continuous, unconditional love that is required; for me to “forgive” anyone is sheer presumptuousness.

This is much clearer, of course, as applied to the other person. If someone has mistreated you far worse than you think you have mistreated him and he says to you, “I forgive you,” you stare at him in mild disbelief and wonder, “Who are you to forgive me?”

Far harder to see that the same applies in reverse; in fact, applies in reverse only.