By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
When we see people oppressed, trampled on, violated, and their loved ones murdered, “forgiveness” is one of the first words that often comes to hand. There are thousands of memes and stories that urge people to forgive. Indeed, popular wisdom informs people that the anger they carry is only damaging to them. Offload it, we’re told, and everything will be fine.
Forgiveness can be a positive force, of that there’s no doubt. But we must distinguish between a harmful “instant forgiveness” and a helpful, spiritually satisfying “sustainable forgiveness.”
Real, sustainable forgiveness rarely comes quickly, and it cannot be forced, compelled, or coerced. A sustainable forgiveness certainly isn’t about quickly offloading anger, which often forces victims to deny their reality –putting them in the same position that they were in when they were first victimized.
Indeed, there are many steps on the path toward sustainable forgiveness. This kind of forgiveness doesn’t emerge straight away from victimization, and it certainly doesn’t ascribe to “forgive and forget!”