This holiday season is upon us. What is often thought to be a happy season can really be one of very conflicted emotions. It is a season for joyfulness yet for many it will not be easily felt this time around. It is a time for remembrance that will come painfully all too easily. It is also a season of forgiveness which will be a hard road to travel as well.
Recently I viewed Sophia Loren’s latest movie entitled “The Life Ahead”. I found it profoundly stirring. It is a reminder of the struggles of abandoned lost children, poverty and the hope of compassion and love that comes from forgiveness. It is a statement of our times.
In my second blog I wrote about forgiveness and how it can lift us from the burden of carrying anger, guilt and resentments over a lifetime. I wrote about forgiving my parents for the harshness of their parenting. There were two concepts I had used to forgive my parents: they have a first name and walk in their shoes. Knowing their stories of living and surviving the Holocaust left me with a profound understanding of the events that shaped their lives. Although I still felt no greater sense of love for them, anger was so unsubstantiated and thus a burden unnecessary to carry. I forgave them.
Many of my patients were helped to release their burden of carrying anger. The release of this intense emotion was monumental in helping them go forward on the Experience Road with lessons they learned.
There are however some figures throughout history for which forgiveness will not come easily, whether they can be seen as individuals with first names or we attempt to gain understanding by walking in their shoes. Their actions against society and mankind merit an unfortunate distinction of unforgiveness. These individuals took deliberate actions to cause death and unnecessary hardship to multitudes of people for their own perverted self interest and beliefs. It is still important to walk in their shoes to gain an understanding of the events that shaped up their actions. We need to strive to not become so burdened with anger that we lose our natural ability to be compassionate. Yet at the same time forgiveness of their crimes is still a long reach.
As a sign of our times we in this country are living through catastrophic events that are both sorrowful and painful. While our current President plays golf and dines at his country club this past Thanksgiving, he whines away about a fictitious stolen election unsubstantiated by courts everywhere. Yet there is no compassion shown for thousands of stolen children he authorized to be ripped from the arms of their parents at our southern border. There is no compassion expressed for millions of our citizens waiting for many hours on food dispensary lines to receive a meal to share with their children. There is no compassion expressed to families that have lost a loved one due to covid-19, a disease he labelled a hoax while knowing quite clearly well in advance how deadly this disease would become if not handled with utmost urgency. There is no compassion shown for individuals and families that were victims of hate crimes stirred up by his divisive racial diatrabe.
The sign of our times these past four years has been a hardship for our society. Our President and his enablers have enacted laws to condemn and reverse policies meant to stem the life threatening impact of climate change. Again, more greed for his enablers and no compassion for the futures of our children and hopefully generations yet unborn, just another hoax. Can we forgive these actions? Can we unburden our societal anger?
The movie “The Life Ahead” points out that with compassion, hopefully to be delivered by our newly and legally elected new President, some of the pain and suffering can be alleviated. Yet forgiveness for a cold hearted and mean spirited current President, that will be a hard road.
In this season of hope I would like to extend a heartfelt wish to everyone for a compassionate and healthy new year. Look for the good in each other and try to forgive. If I have at anytime offended anyone I hope for your forgiveness while to those, with some exceptions, who may have offended me I forgive you.
Stay safe and keep compassion in your hearts. Let hurt move us to better intentions.