Monday, 20 July 2015


In Saturday's Times there was such an interesting article written by Matthew Parriss about foregiveness.   It was in the light of the recent trial of one of the last remaining Nazi guards from Auswitchz (sorry about the spelling) and his subsequent imprisonment.

Some of his victims said they would never forgive him and others said they had already done so -this raises such an important issue and one which I feel is such a very personal one that it is hard to come to a decision which side to come down on.

One lady who had lost thirty of her close relatives there spoke so movingly about forgiveness and the necessity to forget the past - others said they never could forgive or forget.

My previous husband had been on the so-called 'Death Railway' across Thailand as a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese.   He had been taken prisoner as a boy soldier shortly after his seventeenth birthday.   He rarely spoke of  his ordeal and managed to live a happy, relatively healthy life until the age of sixty six.   But he never found the  will to forgive.   He could not forgive his captors for their cruelty and their lack of humanity.
 Yet his friend,an ordained minister, who later on became Chaplain to the Queen, who was a prisoner with him and I have to say a very great support to him - I would almost go so far as to say that without his support and friendship my husband would probably not have survived the many attacks of malaria (both kinds), pellagra, dysentry, beri-beri and many more - forgave to the extent of having a Japanese curate in his parish after the war ended.

So I think we can conclude from that that any kind of forgiveness is a very personal thing - some people find it much easier than others.
And I don't think this just applies to major issues like the ones above; I think it probably applies all down the line.


Mary said...

I've always tried to be forgiving, especially to friends/acquaintances, but to family members who have caused me terrible sadness and stress, I cannot really forgive. This is directed to some close relatives who treated my dear mother badly, and to my only son. He no longer has anything to do with his dad, me, our entire family because he married a sociopathic, cruel, conniving woman (5 yrs. ago) who has brainwashed him! I don't usually knock anyone when blogging or commenting but feel so strongly, and so hurt for us all now that such a once so dear and caring person is no longer in our lives - and sadly doesn't have the gumption to stand up to that wicked woman.
OK enough - I'm off my soapbox now and feel better having shared my unforgiving side!
Mary -

Heather said...

I am amazed at some people's capacity to forgive the most awful things. I like to think I am compassionate but am not sure I could forgive those horrendous war crimes.

Joanne Noragon said...

You absolutely are correct; forgiveness is personal, like every choice we make in life. I find it easy to forgive much, but do not forgive my daughter and her husband for having children they did not intend to take care of, wounding them deeply, mentally, and never owning up to the harm they have done. This abuse is unconscionable. It is harder for a child to come to terms with being abandoned when the parent will not admit fault, but strives mightily to remain the parent of "my lovely children!"

As for the little wrennies, mine are very shy, too. However, they maintain a nest in a bird house in the same tree as and very near my bird feeders. The current wren papa (they live several years and sire multiple broods with different wren mamas in wren houses and trees all over my property) no longer scolds all the incoming birds, much. We see both parents on the safflower feeder; it's closest to home. Then we see all the little ones emerging over the summer, and some go to the feeder, but most feed from the ground, under the feeder. My birds give me peace.

angryparsnip said...

As I understand from what many people have said forgiveness is for the the person who was hurt and the forgiveness is for themselves.
When I was going for help after the x walk out one morning (while I was driving the kids to school, coward) I asked her do I have to forgive him and what he did to children and me. She said no you don't have to.
He was abusive. I have and will not ever forgive him and his horrific action toward us. But I have not let it color my life that I am screaming and crazed everyday about him.
The mental scar of his actions are a reminder everyday but we go on the best we can and live our life. I have cut off all ties and rarely speak of him and never speak to him. He does not control my life anymore. Although the scars run deep.
Forgiveness to family and friends are how we exist but to forgive evil is to stick our heads in the sand.
One can not hate every one named "Joe" but to understand not everyone is the same.

cheers, parsnip

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Hi Weave
This is a difficult one. I like to think of myself as a forgiving person, but then I have been lucky enough to never have experienced something so bad that forgiveness hasn't been manageable(did that make sense?)
Hope you don't mind if I comment on Mary's comment.
Mary.. A dear friend of mine had the same difficulties as you, and yes her son was weak. However she kept the door open a little and some years later her son and his wife split up (she got bored) he eventually met another, lovely, woman and she is now seeing her grandchildren and her son regularly. He now sees his first wife for the dreadful woman she was and my friend is making friends with her grandchildren who now know that she is not the monster their mother told them she was.
I hope it works out for you too.

Cro Magnon said...

Over 30 years ago my wonderful 'genius' doctor cousin was murdered in Canada. I will NEVER forgive the idiot druggie next-door-neighbour, son-of-a-high-court-judge, for killing him. NEVER.

donna baker said...

Usually, the one that cannot forgive is hurting themselves, while the other has moved on and doesn't give it/them a second thought. I struggle with it as I am not a forgiving person. I like the saying, "Time heals all wounds." Or you can turn that around and say, "Time wounds all heels."

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Well, for me at least, unforgiveness is a chain that binds me to the person who hurt me. So,I make the effort to keep cutting the chains when I feel them try to wrap their death-grips around me. Unforgiveness keeps them tight against me -right where I do not want them to be. Forgiveness certainly doesn't bring amnesia, but, for me, distance and (please, God) wisdom.
:) m & jb

A Heron's View said...

I go along with what Maureen has spoken about.
Having had to deal with personal pain caused by the destructive wilfulness of others in my early life, led me to learn that forgiveness has many levels: one is to utter it as a parent does to a child, two is to perform tie breaks as Maureen has mentioned.
To do this you have to be emotionally and mentally ready for the suffering needs to be worked through. Meditation can help, so to can counselling. When the act of forgiveness is done correctly, the pain is removed and so is the remembrance of that pain.
Not to forgive and to hold anger can bring about physical and emotional damage to ourselves, for the angry knife that we hold outwards turns and inflicts our very being. There are many illnesses which are rooted in self infliction.
If we want to be a whole person we have to practice the art of forgiveness.

jinxxxygirl said...

You know i wish i was a forgiving person... But the truth is ... i'm not... I wish i could because i know i waste more energy remaining angry than i would if i would just forgive and forget.... i find the only way i can let it go is if i tell myself 'They just didn't know any better'.....I'm such a stalwart person that i keep alot to myself.. even as a child... I can forgive the adults involved only if i believe they truly didn't know there was a problem.... Hugs! deb

John Going Gently said...

There has been much research to say that great trauma like that suffered by the the holocaust survivors remain buried for a reason......
Buried feelings are not always unsafe....buried is buried for a reason

Rachel Phillips said...

I could write an essay on this but am struggling with a comment. It is a difficult subject and forgiveness comes in all shapes and sizes, there is not one fits all.

thelma said...

As Rachel says forgiveness comes in all shapes and sizes. How can any of us measure our own unhappiness against some of the suffering in the world, and especially after the holocaust, anyone brave enough to forgive must be admirable.
I suspect the best answer is to move on from hatred, turn outwards and create a better life, fill our small worlds with optimism and get rid of nihilistic feelings that are only self destructive and harm the people around you....

Gwil W said...

Starting from the premise that everyone does the best he can according to his limited spiritual ability the words of Jesus on the cross 'Forgive them for they know not what they do.' make a kind of sense. I thought when reading your blog of Terry Waite who is about 6 foot 6 being kept hostage in that low-ceilinged dungeon and wondered about his power of forgiveness. 79

Gwil W said...

I don't know what 79 means. It is a mystery how it got there.

Elizabeth said...

Such heartrending responses today.
So many people have suffered so much at the hands of others. Forgiveness such a very difficult thing - and very hard toto accomplish.
As regards people who have been overwhelmed by 'toxic' people, one can only hope they manage to escape in the end.
So horribly sad.

Linda Metcalf said...

The problem being that to carry that hate will eat you alive. It's just so hard to believe the things man is capable of. But we must move on for any kind of peace in our lives. I hope I can/could do so....but not so sure.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Good point Gwil about Terry Waite who must have had his faith tested to the very extremes and yet came through.
John's point is also an interesting one and has a lot of truth in it I suspect.
What a lot of interesting comments from everyone - Heron's is also especially good. How I wish we were all sitting round in the same room discussing this - those of you who feel you cannot forgive may get a lot of help from just such a meeting.
Thank you so much for your contributions.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

When things go wrong, even about the most trivial things, I think there is a mental tendency to lash out - at least, I have it - and scream for blood. It is exhausting and horribly counter productive, I find.

Mac n' Janet said...

I think forgiveness is necessary or whatever or whoever is the problem will eat at your soul. I cannot be responsible for the behavior of others, only myself and I will not carry hate and non forgiveness around.