On Forgiveness

As I looked over at the guy who insisted he did not have a standard item issued to all of us recruits, I sympathised with him in that he honestly thought he did not have it, but would probably find out later he did.

As I sympathised, an acquaintance of mine cursed with terrible contempt, thinking this recruit was a stubborn idiot who refused to withhold his continuing insistence that he did not have it, and instead go find it.

Before that, this same acquaintance was though of by me as a “nice chap”, a person quite likeable. After his show of contempt, I started to hold him in contempt.

Then I caught myself, and just brushed away that incident — judge not a person you do not understand. Seek to understand, and judgement will cease.

On hindsight, I realised that I did not withhold judgement, for I felt all my acquaintance felt, only I did not express any of it. If even I, aware of my passing judgement, could not stop, how could I expect one who was probably not aware, to stop?

Seek Understanding

Not to mock, lament, or execrate but to understand human actions.

— Spinoza

In the book A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues, Andre Comte-Sponville wrote something that struck me, though it took a few reads before I truly absorbed it:

We bear no grudge against the rain for falling or lightning for striking, as I said, and consequently there is nothing to forgive them for. Can’t the same thing be said of the wicked, in the end, and isn’t this the true miracle of mercy — which is no miracle at all?… Man does not stand apart from the world: everything is real, everything is true, both good and evil, which is why good and evil do not exist independently of our love of the one and our hatred of the other.

If one treats man as part of nature, that we are no different from the rain or lightning, then should we not be more accepting of both the good and the bad of us?

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