17 July 2011

Is Forgiveness the Key?

This morning, in a local magazine, I read an article on forgiveness. Written by Linda Kavelin-Popov (of The Virtues Project fame), it's titled Forgiveness: Opening the Door to Hope. Here's the last line:
"Forgiveness can heal even the most grievous offence. It brings a blessed opportunity for a clean start. So, let's be forgiving. Let's open the door to hope."
Many of you know my opinion on hope (something along the lines of "hope, schmope ... hope is not an action verb"), but I'd like to share with you the thoughts that whirled in my head as I read that....

Can forgiveness heal the greatest crime(s) ever against humanity and the rest of Nature? Hitler ... Stalin ... climate chaos ... the end of most life on Earth? I can see where forgiveness frees the forgiver, but should people who commit heinous crimes actually be forgiven? By society I mean? Hmmm.

But what if we did apply this notion of forgiveness in the search for a solution to climate change? What if the "little boys" (is it just me or does it seem to be mainly guys responsible? I suspect that women could have more influence in stopping wars or slowing the progenycidal spread of our Western economic system if they tried, but it's mostly men who are the perpetrators — and please feel free to point out any errors in my logic or thought patterns) who have created the climate change emergency through their incessant need to keep winning were not only shown the error of their ways but forgiven at the same time?

What if the climate change emergency is ramping up because these men don't want to admit that their "games" have been hasty, wrong, ill-conceived, dangerous, even murderous? What if they feel guilty deep inside but don't want to face their guilt — or their crime? What if they're simply like young children who won't admit the truth if they're afraid of the consequences?

This strategy might be a bit far-fetched, but what if it works? What if it gives these people a chance to save face, to admit that the globalization game of More, More, More is not viable, even survivable?

Or, to be totally cynical, what if we just said we forgive them, in order to be able to blame them in the first place? (Ouch, eh?) We are getting desperately desperate in our search for something — some strategy, some hero, some idea — that will turn this game-changer (global heating, climate disruption, ocean acidification) around. With forgiveness in our hearts, let's call on the people who are most at fault and ask them to change the game to one that will ensure a future for the children. We can still let them feel that they're winning, but in the end, a solution to the climate change emergency will make us all winners.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?