“To err is human; to forgive, divine” – Alexander Pope
Generally we can accept that humans err, as being human is tantamount to saying we are not perfect. Mistakes are our teachers and their lessons are best learned if we do not wallow in regret – a practice which keeps us imprisoned in the past. It is impossible to undo the past and futile to waste energy by dwelling on the should haves, could haves, and if only’s. Acknowledging that the past is over, frees us to be fully present and move forward.
If we understand and accept that to err is human, then our forgiveness for those who have erred should be natural. Yet invariably it’s not an automatic follow-on.
We view events on the news and turn into judges, meting out condemnation. And if someone’s ways of erring impact on us individually, we have a vast repertoire of human reactions and responses to draw upon, and, initially, usually exclude the one of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a process, and the resistance to going through with the process stems from fear – fear that we may appear to be diluting our view on the deed or cause of our anger or hurt or no longer honouring our standpoint or grief.
And when we, ourselves, have erred we do not depend on others for our release from blame and guilt, but more importantly on ourselves. Forgiving ourselves, frees that part of us that was trapped in guilt, allowing the capacity of our full presence to embrace the ongoing journey of life.
Think about it – if you remain in the space of blame and guilt, what fruitful purpose does it serve? And the perpetrators of an error – was the action not the result of a thought which was believed in at the time?