The concept of forgiveness: A socio-religious perspective | Daily News

The concept of forgiveness: A socio-religious perspective

When He rose from the dead, Jesus forgave those who had sentenced him to death and killed him. The world celebrated that great act of forgiveness yesterday. To forgive someone who has done you a great or heinous wrong is something not humanly easy. It is easier said than done.

If you are the sufferer of this heinous wrong that is done on you, how can you bring yourself to forgive? Even with the passing of years or decades, the pain is still there and the deed can be clearly recalled in our memory.

But we know that to hold on to this anger and not overcoming this entrenched thorn in our mind, we are forever imprisoned within ourselves and could not attain the inner peace of mind. From time immemorial, there has been a plethora of explanations and meanings for forgiveness. There is no universal definition of forgiveness accepted by all people, but forgiveness is simply defined as “forgiving someone for their wrongdoing.” This is done instead of accusing or wanting to penalize someone. The main point is that some people forgive because they have good understanding skills, some are forgiving because of their compulsive situation and others forgive because of their institutionalized relationship with someone such as in a marriage. This means that they give more importance to managing their time instead of wasting time with someone. So, they simply conclude “I forgive your mistake, just do not repeat it.” People normally express what The Bible says: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Accordingly, if one is truly forgiving with his or her whole heart, then he or she must have a strong personality that insists on tolerance, sacrifice and love. It is not just about forgiveness; it also brings peace of mind to the heart. Forgiveness is not easy when someone regularly does bad things, even if you do them no harm. People usually do things like this because they don’t want to see the growth and development of someone, so they start to do bad things and destroy that person’s future. In such situations, it is very difficult to forgive. And also, when people hurt someone so badly that they kill someone close to them, damaging things and hurting them violently it is not easily forgiven. It may lead to brutal revenge which means that the victim wants the person to feel the same pain that he or she has gone through.On the other hand, some people do not want to take revenge even when they are so badly hurt because they feel that the pain they have suffered should not engulf their enemy. Even at the peak of their grief, they will forgive the enemy who gave them that pain.

Someone may admit immediately after being involved in a malfeasance and they feel sorry for it, but some others take time to realize it. Some will not even realize that they have done something erroneous, in lieu of which they give a logical reason for not forgiving. According to the religious perspective, it is very essential to forgive. Forgiveness seems like a good value or custom in religions. The Bible says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew6:14). In the Holy Quran “Let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love for Allah to forgive you? Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (Surat An-Nur 24:22). And in the Baghavad Gita,“a

man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well (Bhagavad Gita-6.5). The core scriptures of Buddhism, taken from the teachings of the Buddha nearly 2,500 years ago, state the importance of forgiveness. Buddhism teaches the importance of a peaceful state of mind as well as a peaceful way of life. Buddhists believe that forgiveness is a critical step to achieving this peaceful state. According to the timeless Dhammapada (Verse 5), “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an eternal rule.” This stanza was in fact quoted by President J.R. Jayewardene at the San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951, whereby the Western powers decided to forgive Japan for its role in World War II and pledged help to rebuild it in a spirit of cooperation and friendship. President Jayewardene is still held in high regard in Japan due to this singular act of forgiveness. According to Buddhism, if you do good, good will come to you, if you do bad then you will receive bad outcomes. Therefore you do not have to take revenge, you forgive them. You also get the benefit of good

karma for forgiving your enemy. On the basis of religious aspects, people believe that God is the judge of wrongdoing and He alone has the power to punish them for their offence. Therefore, it is assumed that religion supports maintaining the social order and acts as a tool for social control by emphasizing the value of forgiveness. It also ensures external peace and inner peace of the individual.

Learning from the world’s religions

Commonly forgiveness and retaliation are two contrasting aspects that a person can have. These are just characteristics for the secular Western society, because they may not have a norm or value regarding these aspects. They practically rationalize the true value of forgiveness in real life; they refuse to accept the theoretical perspective of forgiveness.

As rational thinkers, they associate it with ‘human rights’. In their perspective, it is extremely very difficult to forgive, in case, if one is forgiven for his or her offence, it is questionable whether he or she is will not be repeating the same mistake.

On the other hand, forgiveness has some distinctive characteristics and meaningful sense, when a person decides to forgive someone’s transgression; he or she must have a strong heart and confidence; it helps the particular person to move forward with his life with a peaceful mind. Moreover, the incident will not bother anyone anymore after they are forgiven. Another important point is, you may earn more hearts by forgiving others’ faults.

Forgiving will help one to move on with the social life and it gives a big relief from pain, anxiety, and distress. The impact of forgiveness leads to optimism which means that one will feel self-confidence, happiness, and peace.

( The writer is a Sociologist and Senior Consultant holding a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology and a M.A in Sociology.)