Let’s be clear. I don’t know what it’s like to be profiled racially. I’m a middle-aged white man who grew up and lived in a remote part of Canada My experience with racial tension is non-existent. Any of my misconceptions of different cultures and races are purely ignorant, and knowing this, I do my best to learn before I open my mouth.
However, the evolving violent racially-charged situation in the United States has me wondering: Where did we go wrong? And what can I do and what can I say?
While I am racially ignorant -but still learning- and not very worldly. In times when the world heats up with news of racial tension, I avoid the media. Worrying that I may become tainted by the louder voice. However, while I don’t know much about racism and the reaction to it, I do know a thing or two about something that might help this situation: Forgiveness.
In any situation where emotions are high, anger flashes, and typically docile people become savage, the energy that has started it all stems from the lack of forgiveness.
What is forgiveness?
To some, forgiveness is earned. If you wronged me, I would not forgive you until you acknowledge my pain. And even if you did, my forgiveness is not guaranteed.
To others, forgiveness is given. If you wronged me and I gave you forgiveness, you’re indebted to me until I relieve you of your obligation.
In these situations, forgiveness becomes a game where the score must be settled until there is a resolution. However, the game never ends. We end up with situations like that in the United States right now with racially charged protests, where violence ensues, and people die. There’s never a resolution to this. And the cycle of pain continues as each side continues to push and pull itself apart.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning
So many people look at forgiveness as a weakness, or a subservient way to give in. That by not forgiving, they hold the power that they feel was taken away. And alternatively, if they forgive, that means that they have pardoned the wrong that was done to them.
The power of forgiveness does not come from the pardon, and it never means that you have condoned the action toward you. You can still detest the vile act performed on you and continue to distance yourself from those people. Accepting them for who they are has nothing to do with your forgiveness of them and all to do with learning who you are without the pain you inflicted on you by them.
The power of forgiveness is the freedom that you feel when you’ve detached the pain from the person who gave it to you. That what happened in the past no longer affects what is happening now. Forgiveness has NOTHING to do with the person who wronged you.
You cannot give forgiveness.
You cannot ask for forgiveness.
You are forgiveness
Free yourself with forgiveness, and love yourself without the pain. Eventually, you’ll love others enough to know that anger, revenge and retaliation are not the way to forgiveness. Forgiveness is always within you. It’s an inside job.