Sunday, May 22, 2011

foregivness requires mutualism and self-agency


This is a online forum conversation from my conflict resolutions class. Because it deals with the way I process the world around me and although I didn't discuss it my gender identity. I wanted to post it. PS- I love dialog on these new ideas.


Original Post:
Although through this class I am reanalyzing; for me forgiveness has always been something for me as an individual as opposed to something I do for others. I would also acknowledge that I do the obligatory "It's ok." and "I forgive you" for things that I am actually not okay with.

A recent situation that happened to a friend and I had a chance to tell them that I was sorry that I hadn't been paying attention when they needed me. And they replied I am trying not to say it is ok. And my response was to tell her “you shouldn’t because it is not... It is not ok the way, we as communities, deal with problems like this. Where a person in the power over position takes advantage of the power under.

So back to my original point forgiveness, true forgiveness is selfish. You forgive to cease your misery from the experience. You stop being resentful because it is no longer of importance to you to resent. The person no longer has any power over you so you have the ability to truly forgive them for being human. I don’t believe that this is forgiveness is possible in anything other than total and complete self-agency which I believe is only capable when you are mentally, physically, and emotional separate from the power over or abusive person.

I am further wondering if any co-dependent or inter-dependent relationships can ever truly be healthy. I understand that our society doesn’t readily give way for other models of intimacy but seriously depending on one other person to be everything just doesn’t make logical sense. What happens when that unresolvable conflict comes around and both parties don’t have flexibility. How much does one have to wager? How do you do cost analysis on things like traits for a partner?

I guess this has become less about forgiving and more about finding out how not to have to get to that point. This is because I don’t think it is plausible to forgive, to have settlement resolutions, to compromise in relationships where one person has more power than the other. Perhaps I have only seen case where there is an abuse in power. Perhaps I have also only seen unequal relationships. I have no sense of a model where both parties were behaving as equals. And I am not sure that they truly exist.

I like to look at it as who has the choice in the situation. Sure both people have “a” choice but it usually carries more consequences for one party than the other. You can see this in the “I don’t have to” model. Cases from class include, “I don’t have to listen to you.” and the validation that occurred, “I’m sure she is making it up and you are doing the best you can do.” The cognitive dissonance was pretty obvious to me. the perspectives given: “I am trying so hard”; and “ she accuses me.”

The second example of “I don’t have to adhere to your cleanliness standard.” I see a mutualistic person would have chosen to modify their behavior slightly in a way that caused them no harm. If the clean housemate took responsibility for their cleanliness urge. And the not so clean guy worked harder to be clean I am sure they would have been fine living together. Maybe dishes guy does the dishes and mowing the lawn guy, mows the lawn?

I like this better as a definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an organic, ongoing process where you are flexible in a relationship with another person who is also returning that positive mutualistic intent. In these relationships forgiveness become innate because both parties continue to grow and evolve off of each other. Repetitive behaviors are seldom and thus forgiveness becomes a trust. A trust that this other person has the ability to learn from mistakes and pain that they have caused upon other people. Thus we know that there won’t be repetitive cycles of abuse. This is truly forgiving another person. Truly being able to move past the wrongs that have been done to you with the fortitude that it won’t happen again in a trusting and loving relationship where the individuals have autonomy and self-agency.

___________________________________________________________________________________

I am so glad that you wrote this, the last paragraph was very new to me and a great way to look at forgiveness.

I completely agree with your statements about how we are taught that "its okay" and "sorry" are responses that we automatically should say when a problem arises. So many times we are not okay with those situations and yet we find ourselves lying without even meaning to. I think that we are taught to respond like this by our society, and we are taught forgiveness as the settlement camp enforces it.

However, I have never thought of forgiveness in the way that you explained in your last paragraph. I love this idea of it meaning a mutual trust. I am wondering if you mean a mutual trust into knowing that both parties are going to listen to everyones ideas with open ears and then agree on something to work on? I also really like what you say about it becoming an innate behavior. Your way of explaining forgiveness could be extremely important for people to learn especially when thinking about romantic relationships, where power may be unequal.

You have some great ideas and I hope that you are able to share your ideas on what forgiveness really means with many people. I think they could help shift our societies view and help many relationships.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Smitty, your response commands saliency:

"So back to my original point forgiveness, true forgiveness is selfish. You forgive to cease your misery from the experience. You stop being resentful because it is no longer of importance to you to resent. The person no longer has any power over you so you have the ability to truly forgive them for being human. I don’t believe that this is forgiveness is possible in anything other than total and complete self-agency which I believe is only capable when you are mentally, physically, and emotional separate from the power over or abusive person."

Bravo!

This is exactly what I was expressing by my original post. I'd also like to add forgiving from this place/position exacts a person into a completely different domain of power and as you poignantly expressed, their "self-agency."

It's my belief that truly healthy relationships, (ones in which both parties flourish and thrive in accordance with their own ideals), are playful about power--they throw the chi around, engage and disengage with and through it--they find, make and celebrate one another through the process. Love, respect and admiration never ceases though the relationship may 'end'.

Another wise utterance:

A trust that this other person has the ability to learn from mistakes and pain that they have caused upon other people.

And, if I may, if you haven't already covered it: This is where we find the moment to reflect on our personal beliefs and why we will or won't change and through this we maintain or recreate boundaries or paradigms of belief.

Thank you for your thoughts and wisdom.



V

ps. I've found that there is little to forgive, much to understand and, at times, even more to change.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Coming from a Christian family, forgiveness is absolutely about power. God, being the most powerful, forgives. I used to think that everything needed forgiven absolutely with no strings attached or changes needed. Now I'm of the opinion that there is that selfish forgiveness, for instance, I forgive my step-mom for being emotionally abusive because there is nothing else I can do about it and retain my own health. At the same time, I have no trust that she will ever stop being this way and avoid her as much as possible.

I don't think that kind of forgiveness breeds relationships or healthy interdependence. I'll use my roommate as an example. We're close friends and sometimes one of us will say or do something hurtful to the other. Then we have a conversation about it and then it is resolved and trust is given that things will change. I think that is infinitely different than this forgiveness that is meted out with no expectation. That kind of forgiveness is damaging in relationships because it is not developing them further.

Also, in reply to the idea of interdependence being unhealthy, I think that there are types of interdependence that are unhealthy. I have been a part of that before, barely being able to conceive of ourselves as a whole person without the other. My preferred model of interdependence is not parts of a whole but rather, team mates. We'll get a lot done together each bringing what we can do well but still being a complete person by ourselves. I think that also makes it so when things get shaky in a relationship, it isn't devastating or personal. -CR