Selfish and cowardly, destructive and vengeful, how can I forgive those who have no regret, remorse, empathy, or accountability for what they have done? What forgiveness is due those who offer no human word of explanation, sympathy or solace, commit terrible premeditated acts for which they take no responsibility? Indeed, the have deliberately tried to destroy my reputation, kill my business, and force me out of the country.
I was, as some have observed, naive: i didn’t know that anyone I cared about and trusted could ever be capable of something like this.
And now, those same people preach forgiveness.
What good is done by forgiving bad people (as opposed to good people lapsing into bad behaviour)?
I can rationalize that in showing their true nature, I am free of them, saved from years of needless suffering trying to change them. I’ve been given a chance, an involuntary choice, to move ahead with a better life. Forgiveness as forgetting.
There are others who counsel that as emotion fades, I will come to understand, get perspective, and to have some sympathy for the other’s situation. That I will come to accept, perhaps be able to forgive the person, if not their acts. Forgiveness as closure.
Counselors remind me to take and stay on the high road, remember my audience and preserve my self-respect. Let bad acts stand for themselves, delegitimize themselves, In the end, the world is just and karmic balance will prevail. Forgiveness releases others.
These views are, however, mistaken.
There are acts which transcend bad behaviour. They simply are, in duration and form, a result of character traits, not situational aberrations. They are toxic products spawned of bad, not flawed, people.
Their acts are not, in any sense, beneficial or ‘good’ : they are purely, existentially bad. And I was unfortunate enough to be taken in by one of them.
Trying to find some good in bad people is misguided: Life is too short, too filled with wonder and opportunity, to linger in co-dependent hopelessness. Trying to impose good interpretations onto selfish, stupid, angry, deceptive, thoughtless and vengeful actions is wrong. Evil cannot lead to good.
Rationalizing the behaviour of bad people only softens the boundaries and reinforces their power to do bad things. It gives an unjustified purchase for understanding, sympathy, acceptance and forgiveness to take root and sprout vulnerable shoots. Bad people have no legitimate claim to forgiveness.
Why didn’t I see it sooner? Am I so stupid? Did I hope too much? Was I blinded by the best times, duped by excuses, seduced by the Dream? And, always, unanswerable, why.
Sadly, good people are taken in by bad ones.
In the end, i can acknowledge my wrongs, make sincere amends to the innocents that i hurt, change my ways, and perhaps forgive my imperfections.
I cannot, will not, forgive bad people the hurt they intentionally and continuingly inflict on kind and good people around them.