Build Trust Now
Forgiveness can be hard.
When people do something unforgivable, and when they do it intentionally and when they know what they are doing, then it is very hard to ever be able to forgive that person for those evil behaviors. We really can’t forgive the people who did terrible things to other people. But we do want our communities going forward to have the capability of functioning in peaceful and harmonious ways and we don't want past sins to cripple everyone’s future in those settings where it is possible to create real Peace.
There are clearly times when the cause of Peace can be significantly enhanced by starting fresh in a setting with behaviors that are positive for us all at the right levels.
Situations change. Some people do change. Others do not change at a core level but act very differently toward us in a setting because they now define us at deep instinctive levels to be an us in that setting rather than seeing us in their old way as a them. The reactions and values that apply to Us are very different than the reactions and the values those folks had activated in the past for Them. So we need to understand how to deal with those situations and those opportunities.
There will be more of those opportunities as we get better at attempting to create intergroup Peace. Sometimes, we need to push ourselves to think in terms of a fresh start. We can decide to build our communities now based on the right sets of behaviors that we can chose to exhibit to one another starting now.
Now is an important time frame. We can start from now and we can build trust now that exists now because we have earned it now.
Alignment is possible. New starts are possible. But some old sins just can't be forgiven.
Nelson Mandela gave his country a fresh start after a grim and often evil history of oppression and discrimination with a very clear and direct sin based reconciliation process. He created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He required sinners who wanted forgiveness and amnesty to confess with clarity and with deep honesty about their sins.
Those sinners who confessed and repented were not forgiven, but were given a new beginning -- full amnesty. They were judged in the future based entirely on their future behavior. They were given new beginnings, not clean slates.
We may need to do some version of that approach here. We have situations where damage has been done at the intergroup and interpersonal level. We, too, may need to think in terms of new beginnings and we may need to give people who have clearly reached new levels of humanity for their own thought processes some fresh starts.
Bishop Tutu was a member of that commission. He said some of the most difficult moments of his life were spent in those Commission hearings listening to the people recount their sins. But he agreed that the other paths that involved retribution and revenge were wrong for his country and his people, because revenge can be a never ending and deeply destructive cycle. Revenge creates its own damage for everyone going forward, and invites its own retribution levels.
If we want a world that works well for everyone going forward we need to start now with a foundation that can make that happen. Restarts instead of retribution.
The victims in the recent Church shooting reached out to go down a path that looked very much like the path of Mandela and Bishop Tutu and the Commission. People prayed for forgiveness for the shooter.
The consequences of that act of forgiveness have not been determined yet, but the likelihood of Peace for us all a year from now is clearly better than they would be if the families of the victims had taken guns and taken them out to damage the families of the shooter.
To make a future of Peace happen, we need to build trust now that the future will, in fact, be a fresh start.