“But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.” — Don Henley
I occasionally have conversations with people about my writing. On another site, we get frequent comments to our posts. Many of the comments are intelligent and add to the conversation. Some are humorous anecdotes or even corrections. Yesterday, I had one such conversation with a friend who read these posts and another was a commenter on the other site. The combination brings you this topic today.
The first conversation concerned racism. See, a few of the people who read this space are people I graduated high school with. One of them in fact is part of the original inspiration for writing these. There was a Facebook conversation about racism in the summer of 2020 that eventually turned into these commentaries. In the scant 14 or 15 months my readership has grown to almost a dozen strong. At this rate I might be able to retire in a few decades.
The second comment came from the other site I write for. It was from someone asking about redemption and whether it would be possible for people we’ve come to know as “covidiots.” As funny as that sounds, this is no joking matter. There is a significant difference between forgiveness and redemption. On a human level, that difference is the difference between maintaining friendships and familial relationships and not.
Theologians tell us that God forgives and forgives absolutely. It has taken a lifetime to understand that what they are talking about is really redemption and not forgiveness. Forgiveness is really a human condition. It means we simply drop those negative feelings and move on. That has always been the secret. Forgiveness is more about us than it is about them. We don’t allow that anger and pain to consume us. Yet, it doesn’t mean that the relationship returns to normal or even at all.
Redemption, on the other hand, is a return of the relationship. That’s what the theologians call forgiveness from God. The slate is wiped clean and all transgressions are forgotten. Most of us aren’t capable of that. We have to protect our psyche and someone that repeatedly runs roughshod over our psyche cannot return to the previous condition. We can leave the pain behind and refuse to allow that person’s actions to occupy our thoughts. We can’t treat them the same way as before though.
This is where racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia comes in. It is where the Q nonsense comes in. It is where the anti-vax nonsense comes in. This topic is the one topic that ties it all together. Yesterday, we looked at conservative social media and whether they could have a safe space to spew their hatred. There’s a reason why they want and need that safe space. When we shun that kind of thought we don’t get rid of it. We just drive it underground where it can’t readily be seen.
The question comes on whether someone can let their hate flag fly and then later live to regret it. If they do then is there a path back to redemption for them? We have seen numerous people recant their feelings on the vaccine once they’ve landed in the hospital. Should they survive, can they be forgiven and can they be redeemed? They can be forgiven relatively easily, but that doesn’t mean they are redeemed.
It comes down to recognizing windows of opportunity. Hundreds if not thousands of anti-vaxxers and Q devotees are realizing that they backed the wrong horse. They realize they were lied to. They realize they were duped. The question comes on whether we are capable of extending the olive branch to welcome them back to normal society.
The same is true of racists, homophobes, sexists, and xenophobes. There is that key moment where everything comes tumbling down. I say this because I’ve experienced it myself. Those feelings were more private because I knew they were wrong. I was able to cast them aside and be welcomed in. However, I have to admit that I had not gone out on a limb to make an ass out of myself either.
That’s how I know there are a lot of these folks out there. They feel the way they do, but they are too polite and even too ashamed to be publicly outed. Without a path to redemption they have to stay in that space. They exist in the shadows between everything we know that is good and everything we know that isn’t. It’s the main reason why we are left wondering how some of our elected officials get where they are in the first place.
There is something within ourselves that doesn’t allow us to redeem. In ourselves it is obvious that shame overwhelms us. In others, it is anger and jealousy of a former scourge getting credit for their conversion. These are all understandable feelings. For others, it is a lack of trust that the conversion is real. We’ve been burned before. We have to take that chance. Otherwise, it will always be us versus them.