I suppose you will think that it depends on the size of the wrong. That a big transgression needs more than just “I am sorry” but that it would suffice for something smaller.
This is not true. Most families carry specific injustices through the blood lines, so much so that they become part of the character of that clan. When people get together, they inevitably bring up those incidents to re-hash them. We have one in our family that has been with us for 35 years. Every once in a while someone brings it up and everyone gets angry all over again. We all call for the punishment for the perpetrator, for justice! Then the matter will die down for a while and in time rear its ugly head once more. Never to end.
Well, yesterday was such a day. The children of my generation again confronted someone from our parent’s age group about a wrong he did us and has yet to confess to.
And let me say here, it was no small matter, he molested us and it caused baggage that we had to drag around with us all these years like bitterness, unforgiveness, unkindness and others too hideous to mention.
There is nothing worse than family members gossiping about one another and harbouring collective resentment. It causes rifts among people and divides relations. I always think about those that have passed on, the elders. How would they have felt had they been alive to see this? And what
if they do see it? It must cause them great pain when their children and grandchildren murder one another in thought and word.
I believe in forgiveness. Without it we become bitter and twisted and it manifests itself in our bodies as disease. I am not suggesting that it is easy to
forgive. Even if you truly set your mind to it, you might still have to forgive the same person a 100 times a day for the rest of your life.
Forgiveness is given a huge boost if the offender can say that he is sorry. By doing that, he throws the ball back in your court and gives you the freedom to decide for yourself what to do. It puts the onus on you.
Confession brings relief. Think of those stories where the victims of crime have had the opportunity to confront their perpetrators in jail. And the tears when the wrong-doer admits guilt and apologizes. Of course it does not diminish the crime nor does it erase the effects.
Whenever I watch a show on the Crime Channel, I always wish that the accused would confess to the crime and spare the family the horrid lengthy trial where at the end, they will still wonder whether the person did or did not commit the crime. Owning up brings closure. It builds a curb at the end of the road. The victim is thus given the option of stepping over the curb, pretending that the road carries on, or to be done with the matter. It empowers them and therein lays justice. And justice is such an important principle that the legal profession exists to uphold it. Everyone longs for justice, we are just wired that way.
Under special circumstances, for instance if the wrongdoer has died, the victim can still find release without a confession. You can stand two chairs facing one another, sit on the one and pretend the dead person is sitting on the other. Then go ahead and tell them exactly what you think of them, how what they did affected your life and what you felt the consequences were. Once you have put it out there, have said everything you would have said had the person really been there, and have screamed or cried or whatever was needed to deal with the emotions that surfaced, you can say: “I forgive you”. If you really mean it, you will find peace, even if you have to say those three words for another month or two.
To come back to my point. Yesterday this family member phoned the ‘children’ involved and apologised for what he had done. I thought that they would be
flip and kid around like we always do. Instead, they very seriously told me that they cannot believe the weight that had rolled off their shoulders. It is true.
On the downside, what are we going to joke about now that this matter has been resolved and forgiven?