I’m Sorry

what is it about being the injured party that is so paradoxically seductive? i just found out that, in the early days of internet spam, marketeers discovered that people would readily open any e-mail whose subject line read “I’m Sorry”, proving that most of us feel somebody somewhere owes us an apology. i have to acknowledge the truism that we judge most harshly those who embody our unadmitted failings. 
maybe it’s possible to forgive others’ trespasses by realizing how blindly they harm us. like empty boats, adrift on their own currents, colliding with us by happenstance, they are not quite all there, and neither, if we can admit it, are we. 
unless we are solitary anchorites, cartoon hermits with beards down to our toes, we live in relationship, which guarantees we will be hurt by others and inevitably will hurt them. forgivness, the binding of wounds, is indispensable to our lives together. to accept our own hurt, taking it in rather than projecting it out, distills the healing elixer. 
unresolved emotional pain is the great contagion of our time – perhaps of all time. this does not deny the struggle for justice: there is a world out there, and it cries out for rectification. but those who cannot sense the pain of the one who wounds them will despense, under the banner of righteousness, a misshapen justice and create yet more enduring wrongs. i could be deep in goody-two-shoes territory, but i suspect that the final extention of forgivness is just as Lao Tzu said: “it is the way of the Tao to recompense injury with kindness.” 
i’m inspired, but it’s still lofty enough to give me vertigo. we have all experienced that hardness of heart that makes reconciliation seem unattainable. god, i still get miffed with an acquaintance passes me in the store without a warm enough hello. i know people for whom a simple social snub has fueled a lifetime of rancor. to forge my own minor act of forgiveness has taken years. 
and arnt there some individuals we should place beyond the pale? – the ones who’ve tromped on our insteps without a murmur of apology, who’ve scewed us in the past and, given half a chance, would stick it to us again, this time with a little more torque? and what of the rotten people, the cold-blooded calculators and hot-blooded haters, the ones we justifiably loathe? in the greek new testament, the term used for compassion toward one who has wronged us is splanchnizomai, from the word for “intestines” (to pour out one’s insides: forgiveness is gut-wrenching work). sometimes it just feels impossible. 
but now and again we hear of people who have forgiven the unforgivable. how do they keep their hearts open amid the buffetings of true malice? I want to find out.

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