My so-called dad was an extreme abuser!  I despised him as he abused mom, Sis and me, and after I'd cried out to God until I was blue in the face at 8 years old I finally got it through my thick head and I became an unbeliever!!!  Wow, I said it!  ...  So, how do you forgive a man like that?  I didn't!  I didn't have the namby-pamby forgiveness of the religious within me!  I'm a hard man, and if someone offends me severely, I don't easily forgive!  That's true to this day.  ...  So, I've accepted what is, but no forgiveness!!!

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Comment by Daniel W on March 3, 2013 at 4:58pm

Earl, thanks for describing this part of your history.

I agree with you there is no moral imperative to forgive.  In fact, survival might demand otherwise.  Evolution would favor those who avoid and despise those people or situations that put them at risk, cause harm or threaten harm.

I'm not sure the definition of forgiveness - I think it's to lose a sense of blame, and lose the sense of dislike or hatred, for a perpetrator or for wrongs that a perpetrator committed.


If that's the case, I find -just my own situation and mentality - forgiveness is a way to let go of past wrongs, to move on.  It does not mean developing trust, or allowing someone back in our lives or where ever.  I truly wish I could forgive some things that, so far I can't.  Those things have too much of a hold on me, and I want to let go.  Life is too short for that.

For other things, long ago and mostly far away, I have forgiven.  It's given me a sense of peace for those situations.  I'm glad I can forgive those past wrongs.

That doesn't I think you should forgive - we all have to do, and be, what we have to do, and be.

Comment by Luara on March 3, 2013 at 7:23am

The whole impact of the concept of forgiveness lies in the social pressure to forgive, the message that this is the morally right thing to do.  That's what you seem to be reacting to. 

It's bizarre that actually, scorn is poured upon people who try to empathize with other kinds of criminals.  But when it's so personal, when the devastating damage is done by one's parents, one is expected to forgive the most atrocious acts.  It seems to boil down to a social expectation that one allow ongoing victimization and never tell the truth, about things that cause terrible long-term catastrophic effects. 

However I do believe in empathy, with anyone.  I believe in accepting the humanity of any human.  Denying the humanity of another person, understanding that you might do the same if you had had the same experiences, risks denying our own potential for evil. 

I think that one kind of circumstance that generates abusers, is when someone grows up in a bad family environment - vicious, dangerous - yet they are not the primary victim of the abuser, they're instead the "favorite" of the abuser, they make themselves feel safer by identifying with the abuser and becoming a victimizer themselves, so far as a child can.  So they learn to victimize people (or animals, whatever) as children, and when they grow up, they carry on with this pattern. 

I've seen this happening in what I grew up with, and saying that abusers come from that kind of circumstance, feels right to me.  It's forgiveness in a sense, because it says they're a person, not some kind of monster.  But one can still say it's morally wrong to do such things, that's a social standard that tries to prevent people from harming others because of what happened to them. 


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