Why this emotional fitness topic
The sages know that not forgiving is a searing fire that burns you more than the ones you cannot forgive.
Not only do the sages promote forgiveness, the religions of the world promote the need for all to be forgiven and to forgive. The Lord’s Prayer echos the Jewish laws of forgiveness. Both make it clear, not only must God be asked to forgive, but we must forgive our fellow beings. The other main stream religions also promote some form of forgiveness.
However, religions have not brought peace to our world. Why? Mainly by preaching their truth as the only truth and believing their God wants them to impose those beliefs on others. Because of those types of preachings religion has become a powerful way to promote hatred and so has become a tool of those who war.
According to the well researched book by James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword, as a warrior Constantine united his troops by promoting the symbol of the cross to his troops. He claimed that his God shown him a cross in a dream and said following that cross would lead to victory. He defeated his enemies against some powerful odds and became Emperor Constantine. His victory and his championing Christianity at his mother’s urgings lead to his eventually being made a saint.
What is not known by most is that half of his troops were pagan and worshiped the Hammer of Thor, which has a cross like appearance. They fought for Thor.
Also not known is whether Constantine became a true convert. He was baptized on his death bed, but may have just been pleasing his mother.
Those who rant against religions know it is a tool for those who want to unite and inspire warriors. I do not rant against religions, but think about whether it promotes kindness or cruelty and how easily it is distorted by people of power.
I am also very aware that all words can be twisted which is why I say, “Think you know the truth? Think again.”
I need to say it to myself as much as to others.
Many say forgive and forget. What good to forget the Jews, the Armenians, indigenous people and all the others from the beginning of time oppressed and killed?
How can those who lost loved ones on the Lockerby plan, aboard the Cole, at the Libyan Embassy forget?
What good will come from forgetting the innocent victims of all the unjust wars, and those being killed daily as the fanatics and greedy power leaders of the world seek to gain or hold domination?
I prefer to forgive, to remember the lessons, to try to understand the motives of those who offend me, and always to work for peace.
A quote to think about
Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially, if you don’t want to repeat what happened.
Emotional fitness tips
Tip one: As the good bishop notes you can remember, even hate those who have hurt you, forgiveness just means walking away and making no plans for revenge. His message suggests finding a more positive use for your life than carrying forward thoughts of revenge.
Not easy. My father was able to do this. “Life will revenge all in time; death is the final justice.”
He was an atheist, but believed in working for the good.
Tip two: The researchers note that the best way to defeat the call of negative feelings is to act against what they ask. Instead of dwelling on your hatred of those needing your forgiveness, send kind thoughts their way. Again not easy.
One of the Rabbis in Fiddler on the Roof is asked after yet another pogrom, how the Jews can obey the commandment to pray for their enemy, the Tzar.
He answers, “God bless and keep the Tzar far away from me.”
I remember my father’s words and Bishop Tutu’s advice. Nor am I above saying “Thank you” when life brings down someone who behaves selfishly and without kindness.
Tip three: Practice kindness, be generous, share and care.
Life is a struggle, full of pain and suffering, but also full of joy and goodness. Relationships also bring pain, but without caring connections life is bleak. Forgiveness is a path to peace within and within all close relationships.
Disclaimer one: Emotional Fitness Training is not therapy.
Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.
Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors
Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability that is akin to dyslexia when one writes. It was the reason my high school English teacher thought I would fail out of college. I didn’t. Moreover, with the help of some patient and good editors I became an author. Still mistakes get by. When I am in a rush, posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.
Sigh, if you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow me. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; if a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, try reading it a few days later. Often I catch the worse mistakes when I read the post after a few days.
Meanwhile, forgive me, it is an Emotional Fitness Training exercise.