schuler johnedwards abdel basset michael-vick 

In the last week or so, several stories in the news have been begging the same question: 

When do you forgive?

Do you forgive someone for transgressions which may be distasteful to some but in reality are the product of being human?

Do you forgive someone for bad judgment, stupidity, and even cruelty if at some point they see the error of their ways and ask for redemption?

How about someone who makes a fatal mistake which has catastrophic consequences, but had she known what was going to happen may have acted differently?

And what about someone who has committed an unspeakable crime, but is dying and about to be judged by a higher power?

I am a huge fan of forgiveness.  As parents we encourage forgiveness in our children.  (“Say you’re sorry like you mean it ” — and all is usually forgiven. )

The reason I’m so in favor of forgiving?  Bitterness is a heavy load indeed.  When I am angry at someone or someone is angry at me, I walk the planet with the same subliminal discontent as if I have left the iron on at home.  Even when I’m not fixated on the issue, it hangs over my head.  But when we forgive, when we make-up, I immediately feel 10 pounds lighter.  I am not a saint, mind you.  I have a shit list; but the distinction is nobody stays on it very long.  Life is too short.

Admittedly, I have never had to deal with the types of tragedies that are the center pieces of our news cycle.  If anyone ever harmed my family or someone I cared for, would I ever be able to forgive them?  I hope I never know the answer to that question.

Do I forgive John Edwards?  It’s not my place to forgive him.  He isn’t my husband.  But I certainly don’t blame Elizabeth for forgiving him.  She has other worries and he shouldn’t be one of them.

How about Michael Vick?  He is playing for my hometown team next year and I would like to think that he is sincere in his search for redemption.  He gets another shot from me.  But just one.

As far as Diane Schuler (the wrong way Mom who killed 7 including herself, allegedly drunk and high) and Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrah (Lockerbie bombing convict released this week because he has just months to live), I hope the families can forgive at some point, certainly not for the perpetrators sake, but for their own.  I don’t know if I could.  But, they deserve peace.

Dan Gottlieb, psychologist, author, commentator, and overall cool guy cited in his column this week a naturalist who once said that, “in nature, there are no rights and wrongs, only decisions and consequences.”  It’s an interesting thought to meditate on, certainly for your actions, but also for when you are deciding whether or not to forgive.  Forgiving is not right or wrong, but your decision to forgive has consequences.

Who would you forgive?

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