One of my favorite authors is Don Miguel Ruiz. His book ‘The Four Agreements’ is a quick and easy read, only about 140 pages, but I think it’s deceptively simple. In fact, I think it’s quite profound. I read this book often, however, I find that when I listen to it on audio-book I notice and appreciate it in a whole new way.
Yesterday I was driving up to the lake and listening to this book once again. What struck me was what he had to say about justice. Let me put this into my own words and of course give you my point of view. Basically, he says that if there was justice regarding people, once we have made a mistake we would own it and move on. There would be no lingering guilt and no on-going recriminations. Wow, what a concept!
The truth is that my dog gets it. When I’m in a bad mood and he makes me a bit crazy I sometimes slip and shout at him. As soon as I realize what I’ve done and I apologize, offer him a snuggle and a rub behind the ears, Indy forgives me completely. He doesn’t bring it up every time I’m crabby, he doesn’t remind me that I was snotty next time he wants a treat and I don’t offer it up quick enough. In short, I hurt his feelings, I apologized, and Indy forgave. Nice.
The problem is that as humans we seem to operate with a different set of rules. When someone hurts us we bring it up again and again. Sometimes verbally, sometimes intentionally, often just by thinking about it and being cautious with the offender long after the offense. As a holistic life coach, I think it’s really important to remember that any time I choose to hold this offense against someone, it affects me as well. For justice to be served at its best, after an offense is committed and apology accepted, the offense would be forgotten. Not just forgiven but actually forgotten.
If my husband has come home late, caused me to worry I might well be angry. However, after he has apologized and I say he is forgiven neither of us is served well by my reminding him the next day to come home on time to avoid my wrath. All that happens then is that he is on edge and I’m all ready to get upset again. Of course, this is the most simplistic example, but the point is the same regarding justice at any level. We do not forgive simply for the sake of the offender, but for the sake of the offended as well. If I’m living with the thought of something that was done to me, rehashing, again and again, I’m letting that offense color my entire life. By the same token, even if the punishment was meted out, every time I bring up the offense I am punishing the offender again and again. Never letting it go, never allowing either of us to move on in a healthy and productive way.
Of course, I recommend that you read the book. This subject and many others are addressed in detail and put much better than I ever could. Just the same, I wanted to share my thoughts. Let’s make an effort to not only forgive, but to truly forgive. We’ll all be much healthier and happier for the effort.
Wishing you a fabulous day, filled with forgiveness and justice.