To some people, forgiveness means a complete victim-offender reconciliation without offenders’ efforts, which gives offenders opportunities to hurt victims again, and victims should no longer whine over the pain (basically a task of Saint!); to some people, forgiveness simply means victims’ giving up the ideas of revenge, shifting focus from the past to current, moving on with their own life.
Forgiveness = X – Revenge (X is a “variable” defined by different persons).
Tolerance is refer to differences (ideas, life style, etc.), not to offence, abuse or injustice. (The “tolerance” to latter is better to be defined as “forgiveness”.)
Tolerance to injustice is the best “gift” humans offered to Evil. It does help injustice prevails.
A healthy relationship is built on understanding, or accepting/embracing (without understanding) each others’ differences, NOT on one-sided tolerance to mistreatment, or abusive behaviors.
If violence were not avoidable, I rather see guilty persons punished by violence, than seeing innocent people keeping suffering by never ending violence that escaped by “tolerance”.
Image via Wikipedia
(The forgiveness I am trying to analyse below is about serious matters, such as serious personal offense, crimes, and any type of abuses within relationships, it dose not include the tolerance/forgiveness of differences in ideas, wrong doings of general level.)
The content of “forgiveness” consists of two parts: 1, a peaceful state of mind that has transcended the painful/unfair past; 2, a willingness of re-building relationship with offenders.
The former is prerequisite of the latter, but it dose not necessarily lead to the latter.
Forgiveness is CONDITIONAL: 1, it requires victims emotional strength (transcending the past – recovery from damages and regain self esteem); 2, offenders’ efforts to earn forgiveness*.
Forgiveness without both of these conditions is irrational, unreal and will not survive long.
Forgiveness is a strength. This is because that “feeling” is like a bank account, the more “saving” we have, the more “expense” we can make. So the more emotionally secure and more loving we are, the more capable we are to be compassionate, or to forgive.
When someone is abundantly loving, forgiveness can be a “charity”. However, if someone practices this “charity” of “forgiveness” completely aimlessly or unconditionally, he/she is no more than a rich person showing off his/her wealth by giving out money away unnecessarily. In other words, this “charity” will not do any good, except functioning as a decoration of our personal strength.
I think unforgiveness usually has two reasons: victims’ insufficiency of emotional strength; 2, offenders’ lack of effort to earn forgiveness.
The unforgiveness caused by both or either of these reasons is totally reasonable, and worth our sympathy. As outsider, we should not encourage victims to “forgive” their offenders just for the sake of “forgiveness”, because it is natural for a person to moan when he/she is suffering, and it is natural for us to defend ourselves when we are under attack. In other words, when any type of unfair conflicts happened and produced damages to one sides, victims’ right should be always our the first concern.
*Susan Forward had some excellent analysis on this in her book “Toxic Parents”.
If we take the tolerance on different types of foods as ONE OF measurements of our physical health, the tolerance on different cultures and ideas could also be one of measurements of mental health.
By my own observation, most Chinese people oversea who accept western foods are those with great physical health. On the contrary, those who do not or cannot accept western foods are either physically unhealthy or, at older age (not those Chinese Americans who grew up here, but those who immigrated here at relatively older age). So if my observation is valid, the same rule can be applied to our mentality: the healthy minds are always open to different ideas or cultures with objective understanding, not rejection.