Title: Respect and Forgiveness: What Do They Really Mean?
Blog Entry: Respect and Forgiveness: What Do They Really Mean? Two terms and principles go back to ancient times in Judeo-Christian culture: Respect and Forgiveness. They are much revered but they are also misused and misunderstood by many. Let us take the first for discussion. Respect according to Webster's means "To hold in esteem". For most of us this is an acceptable definition. We must take it to the next step and ask why do we respect or hold someone in esteem. We do because someone conducts themselves in a "respectable" manner and whom also has performed admirable deeds either over a long expanse of time or has performed something noteworthy or something worthy of gaining kudos. The operative factor at work is that a person has done something to "earn" respect. Respect is something that has to be earned. It is not assigned simply because of a relationship to someone else who has earned our respect because that is not earning but an attempt to borrow from someone else in order to personally profit from that person's work and achievements. In our misguided media it is commonly demonstrated that respect or recognition be granted by virtue of nothing else than being born into a situation. Some of our many starlets in the news of late exemplify this. Instead of earning respect they earn our contempt and must work to gain respect...if they indeed even care to do anything but draw attention to themselves. It is also true that respect can be lost and in many cases permanently and irreparably destroyed. This is especially true for people who gained positions in which they held a trust of the public. Jimmy Swaggart is an example of this. Although he again has a television ministry he will never command the influence and respect he formerly enjoyed. Moving on to the second principle, forgiveness, let us ponder it for a while. Webster's defines it as "To grant pardon". Much has been written about this in our culture, especially in religious terms. It is said that we must forgive those who transgressed against us. This is true, but what if the violator holds no remorse for his misdeeds. Will forgiving him serve any purpose? If we forgive this person will this not be an invitation to repeat his act again on others or even the original victim? Does there not have to carry along an element that the victimizer must desire to be forgiven? Otherwise what purpose is served? Has anything been remedied? Has someone who has suffered been made whole again? And perhaps most of all, has anything been done to prevent this act from being committed on another victim? I submit that unilateral forgiveness is meaningless and purposeless and most often result in a perpetuation of the problem as no lesson is learned. Allow me to digress to a situation which illustrates both of these points. I know of a family, very Old World in their manner, wherein the parents physically abused and browbeat their children into submission from childhood to adulthood well into middle age. Whenever one of them objects they are reminded of all the hardship they went through to "bring them into the world and raise them" and that they have a lot of nerve to speak that way to their parents. It is of course thrown in to remember the Biblical adage about "honoring their mother and father". In short all the kids are totally dysfunctional and they continue to lick the boot that kicks them. Their argument is that simply by virtue of their being parents they demand respect. This of course is complete nonsense as abusiveness has earned them contempt and no grounds for respect were ever set forth. As for forgiveness, it is clear that the parents are convinced that they are entitled to abuse their family as they are nothing more than chattel to them, and as such hold no notion that they have done anything to be forgiven for. So what would it serve to extend forgiveness to these miscreants? Indeed, if any of the children told them that they forgive them this would only result in yet another round of abusiveness as such a statement suggests that something was done which required forgiveness and in their own minds they remain pure and virtuous as parents. If nothing else we must carefully measure our words when using these terms because many ramifications can follow if they are not correctly used or their gravity understood. Copyright © 2008 - 2012 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.
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