Bridge of forgiveness, image, courtesy of rpigate.files.wordpress.com
I’ve been always a fan of Paulo Coelho’s work. “The Alchemist” has drawn my soul and has opened my eyes. I can see that Paulo Coelho is a man who travels, meets, and learns from a lot of people. He sees, he hears, he thinks, he contemplates, and he shares. Indeed, he inspires me a lot.
Today, I am reading one of his book “Stories for Parents, Children and Grand Children” and stumble upon this short story “The essence of forgiveness”. There was a Napoleon’s soldier who committed a crime and condemned to death. His mother pleaded with Napoleon to forgive his son. Then Napoleon responded her saying that the lady’s son had did an action that deserved no mercy. The lady replied that she knew and if it had done, it would have not been true forgiveness.
“To forgive is the ability to go beyond vengeance or justice”
We all make mistakes and if we felt that we didn’t, someone might think that our action, in someway, caused that person detriment or even heartache. In other words, our intention might be interpreted differently by people. I didn’t mean to hurt her, I mean well, I did this for his sake, etc. If we finally comprehend the reason, we are bound to put our position in his/her shoes, we could understand his/her action, and then we said, “I forgive you.” When my auntie decided to tell my parents about my backstreet relationship with an older guy (I was 16 and the guy is 28), I was in rage. I thought that she had betrayed my trust. Come to think of it, I put myself in her shoes back then and I knew that she loved me and she feared that something bad might happen to me. What a 16-year-old girl knew to defend herself and what a 28-year-old-guy could do to a teenager given his advantage prior to his experience as an older guy. As she loves me, I forgave her.
It’s easier and seems more natural to forgive someone who means well. However we must come to our senses that not all people think the best for you. Sometimes they steal,lie, cheat, stab your back, make you their scapegoat, cause harm to your loved ones, etc just for their own benefit. They might be not 100% bad but they did bad things to you because you, for some reason, were in their way to accomplish their goals. They could say, “this is business, nothing personal.” Talking about getting snapped in the face, it hurt, it might leave marks of bad memories and inflict hatred.
This evening, I watched some kind of talkshow in Metro TV discussing about public mockery to Indonesia Raya, our national anthem. The guest was enraged by it and urged the government to declare war to one particular country. He said that our country was losing its dignity because our government did nothing to demonstrate our authority. I couldn’t help but wonder that we had role in this. Remember that when we found out that one of our tribal dance used in an another country’s ‘visit year’ advertisement? Some of us accused that this country did and had nothing worth to be praised: terrorist-exporter. Rage inflicts hatred, hatred inflicts more hatred, then war. War on the virtual world has already been on and we are two steps to get into a physical war.
“There never was a good war, or a bad peace.”
What I’m saying is our entire existence will be wiped out by ourselves if this chain of hatred keeps going on. Break the chain. To forgive is to go beyond vengeance and justice. To forgive is not to forget. To forgive is to move forward and learn from it. Series of bad, injustice experience wound us but it is a way to learn, to reflect, to contemplate, to improve and make ourselves wiser. Forgiveness is a bridge leading us to The Path.
We could not reach our dream, our true desire, if we were stuck in the past and let ourselves be blindfolded by rage and hatred. For instance, I might not be able to grasp a learning experience from my ex boyfriend if I chose only to remember him as a big fat liar and manipulator. In fact, he’s the one who introduced me to Paulo Coelho, encouraged me to pursue my dream, and taught me not to be afraid to fall and make mistake. In spite of our rocky relationship, I’m here now because of him. To quote from Paulo Coelho (again), “When you want something, concentrate only on that: no one will ever hit a target they cannot see.“