Friday, June 16, 2006

To forgive or not to forgive...

How do we deal with issues of forgiveness? How simple is the question of weighing the act committed vis-a-vis deciding if the act committed deserves to be forgiven or to be punished? I have struggled with this question for some time now without too much luck. I am going to try and steer clear of a debate on conservatism vs liberalism but there is a possibility this might slink in at some stage.

Over a conversation with a person very dear to me, I was told that forgiveness at some level depends on the person we are dealing with and what they mean to us. So as a concept if my mother and my best friend committed the same mistake, I would deal with it differently. That's understood because we are always prejudiced to some extent when it comes to our parents. But what about the rest of the world. I was also told that forgiveness depends on the past history of the person involved. By that she meant that forgiveness would depend on how much good the other person has done to her vs how much bad the other person has done to her. Assuming we go by this criteria of judgement, this would not leave any room for a repitive offender to be given a chance to rehabilitate and on the same note it would give a one-time offender a chance to commit another mistake tomorrow. That might seem like an over-simplification of the issue but its something I can't help thinking.

I have for a long time believed that in any situation we face, there is always a way to go about doing the right thing-call it my sheer naivete if you like but I still believe this.But the argument that was thrown on my face was that the right thing could differ from one person to another. I was told that maybe one of the parties involved might not think of what it did or was doing as wrong. In that case how do you fix resposibility. For example let us consider a person with an impeccable driving record all his life. However the person has a habit of talking on the mobile phone while driving. Its just how he has been driving all these years. He one day accidentally runs over a boy and the boy dies. Nobody knows that the man was using the phone while driving and in the eyes of the judge and most people involved, it was an accident and yet what does one tell the mother of the boy? When something wrong happens to us, we always try and fix responsibility. What should the mother do? The same person I mentioned before told me once that what you don't know cannot harm you. What if the mother knew that the man was using his mobile phone when the accident occurred but has no proof to corroborate that claim.

How does one deal with cheating? I am restricting myself to cheating on your partner lest this spirals out of scope.Going by my friend's logic would one go by making a balance sheet by paring off the virtues of a partner against the vices and then wait to see if it all tallies or if there is a deficit on either end? What about that image that has now been seared into your head when you saw him/her with that someone else? Even if relations get reconciled, does an image in your head ever go away? I guess this would also bring in familiar concerns about the fact that maybe something was amiss with the relationship as a result of which the cheating happened which brings me back to my underlying principle that no matter what situation there is always a right thing to do.

If only there was a way by which there could be a definitive right and wrong? If only there was a way by which one knew while forgiving that if you forgave it would never happen again. But I guess since I am going idealistic anyway, if only none of these things happened in the first place but they happen and then the dilemma to forgive or to forgo happens and all these questions that come along with it also happen.


Anonymous Mrinalini said...

Pretty heavy stuff!
Anyways, from a realistic point of view, a true relationship is solid enough to withstand any pressure and can weather the nastiest storm. Hence, dilemmas such as to forgive or not to forgive are irrelevant. Its a given.

11:53 AM  
Blogger RefleXtion said...

So who was this 'person'??? :D

Anyway the stand I would take on the subject is's difficult to answer the question of 'fair' or 'unfair' it's best to put yourself in that person's position.

As far as possible I belive we should put everyone on a level playing ground. Yes you do tend to be kind to a person you know for commiting a mistake against another who you don't...but is'nt it the same thing? In fact the person who you are closer too should have realized what they are if they still did it should'nt you be harsher?

"Forgiveness" is something I have a big problem dealing with....for some reason it brings mental peace or takes it away from you.
"Indifference" is an attitude that seems to help more.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Just to get a little more clarity on this what is a true relationship and is there anything such as that?

I used to think indifference helps but realised that that just leads to something bottling away some place ready to fizzle out and explode.

I have to agree it brings peace at times and yet at other times leaves one completely defenceless...

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Mrinalini said...

True relationships do exist but agreed, they are rare. But exist nonetheless. Its solid enough to withstand any pressure and can weather even the worst storm. A bond that breaks, no matter what, proves it just didn't exist in the first place. Its instinct. One will sense it only if and when one experiences it.

12:35 PM  
Blogger RefleXtion said...

What's the difference between a true relationship and true love? If it's so much effort and if it's pure and if it's's usually about the opposite'nt it love...rather why CAN'T it be love?

Indifference...see it can be the only solution if two people in a relationship want completely different thing and niether of them want to compromise...what do yo do then? You will have to keep pushing forward without finding a suitable solution right? Sometimes you and the other person concerned has confronted the same problem so many times that both of you are tired just talking about it and rather just turn you back towards it than go through with another argument or discussion

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Mrinalini said...

I mean any relationship, and not necessarily a relationship based on the emotion of 'Love'. Any relationship which has DEPTH is a true relationship. DEPTH is the ultimate state of a relationship. It transcends all dilemmas, doubts and conflicts. So.....if a realtionship has DEPTH, dilemmas such as these ( to forgive or not to forgive, indifference etc.) wouldn't arise.

10:13 AM  
Blogger RamantheB said...


What inspired this piece ? Everything ok ?

regd the relationship discussion,

I think a relationship will work, if the two involved have it at their back of their mind to constantly keep their partners happy. It need not always be the first thing on their mind, but if that thought lingers on in both their heads, then the relationship is heading in the right direction and the rest will take care of itself

10:37 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Hahahha!! I am mightily amused, I have already been asked twice as to what lead to this piece and if everything was ok? Guys, trust me if something was wrong you will know.

It was not meant to be a relationship discussion- the focus was on forgiveness and yet at some stage this is what it became.

Forgiveness as a concept is somthing that I have always had a tussle with and therefore this piece.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Mrinalini said...

Its as simple as this- A person's life is full of human interaction, and human interaction entials all kinds of relationships. And only in the presence of a relationship ( with others and with onself) does the question of 'forgiveness' come into the picture. cannot divorce the topic of 'relationships' from a discussion on 'forgiveness'.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Arpita said...

hey that was a nice piece.i guess its tuff to have a standard rule for these things.its impossible to know the intention of the person who has done the wrong act and in turn not possible to forgive.but if u knew the person, its easier to judge why n how they did it, right?

2:38 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Point taken albeit reluctantly. My tussle with forgiveness has been more so with trying to divorce it from relationships; exactly what you are referring to. Almost from a judge's point of view where only facts make a difference and the scope of emotions is limited or non-existent-I know that might seem condescending and even impractical but so what...


To tell you the truth, sometimes, it seems more difficult with people I know because I know them and therefore find it hard to believe that they did something like that(hypothetically speaking!!)

6:04 AM  
Anonymous Mrinalini said...

You're just being the spectator here (in this piece). A'right, makes sense too.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Aah its good to see you come around at last, I guess in your case too...reluctantly.

To be able to make those decisions without being swayed by such things as "emotions" is what I have my most frequent conflicts with. For the sake of argument you could say that even a real judge is swayed by emotions but that is going to be a stretch.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Why Am I said...

forgivenness depends not only on the "other" person , but also on the person who is doing the forgiving...some ppl seem to be able to forgive nething and neone...while others dont seem to let nething pass..apart from the "who" tht has committed the crime/wrong deed/wateva..its also wht a person thinks is capable of forgiving...for instance i would find an act X easier to forgive that act Y as Y is more against my morals

3:05 AM  

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