Apologies, Forgiveness, and… It’s Complicated

I’m doing a lot of reading these days on the topic of forgiveness, somewhat related to the process of healing and repairing rifts in relationships but also on a general cultural level. It’s a tough slog going from Hargraves, “Families & Forgiveness” to Ketcham’s “Spirituality of Imperfection” to Simon Wiesenthal’s “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness”. There are as many opinions on how forgiveness can and does work on the individual and cultural levels as there are authors writing on the subject.

Forgiveness is best considered a highly subjective, personalized experience. In my own experience, forgiveness and forgetting NEVER go hand in hand, but forgiveness for me does mean, “I will not hold this action you have committed against me over your head as a divisive weapon between us any longer”. (And yes, I track the fact that the action happened at all as data point to analyse across future time in the creation of an experiences and detailed mental picture of the individual in question. But it’s not being actively used as a reason to stay distant, not necessarily at any rate; healing can begin.)

This article, while largely written for adults trying to teach kids better ways of saying “Sorry” and meaning it, also has some solid insights for adults trying to be better at saying sorry themselves, or encouraging those who have hurt them to offer meaningful apologies.

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