Forgiveness is a Luxury, and Some of Us Can’t Afford It
Nearly every time I read quotes about forgiveness I reflect on my past and wonder about what role forgiveness plays in my life.
People say “Forgive and forget,” or “Forgive but never forget.” Some people find forgiveness helpful because it allows them the illusion of compassion and allows them to move on in peace. I find that more often than not, I forget for periods of time but hardly ever forgive. It’s very rare that I feel someone has earned my forgiveness.
My thoughts around forgiveness are seated in my roots as a Black Christian. I learned that many of the Christians who would preach to you about forgiveness don’t practice leading a Christ-like life themselves, and they usually end up beating people with the same bible they preach from, the same bible that they claim brings liberation.
Who really needs forgiveness and is it really necessary that I grant it to them?
Another saying is that “People who you hate either don’t know or don’t care.” I guess I believe in that philosophy, about the futility of hanging onto emotions if the person who helped create them doesn’t know you have them, or doesn’t care that you have them. However, the virtual uselessness of forgiveness in my life lies in the fact that not forgiving but allowing myself to forget for periods of time brings my past experiences back into sharp focus and reminds me of what I need to remember, to remember what I know and have experienced in order to survive.
Do I forgive the negligent doctor and healthcare industry who caused my brother’s death with a wrong prescription?
Do I forgive the nation that routinely denies and ignores a history full of the torture, rape, maiming, kidnap, lynching, and general dehumanization of my race and creed? (How can you forgive what people treat as imagined slights? How do you forgive someone who acts as if you made it up or were mistaken about what happened?)
Do I forgive the people who forgot I existed after I left college suffering from depression and anxiety from what I experienced there?
If it’s a wound that won’t heal anyway, what’s the point of relying on an overpriced doctor who will never mend it? I chose to forget so I won’t be consumed, but never forgive lest I become complacent. Sometimes, forgiveness is a moot point.
Forgiveness is a luxury, and some of us can’t afford it. Sometimes, it burns me to listen to people talk about–or lecture me about–forgiveness. It is unholy to me, it’s like blasphemy, to listen to people go on about forgiveness like we live in a perfect world. Forgiveness alone is not going to create a better world.
For a long time, I wanted someone to tell me my passion was well-placed and vindicated, I wanted people to tell me I had every right to be angry or pained. Now, I find more and more that I don’t need how I feel and what I think to be seen as right or wrong, vindicated or condemned. It just is what it is. Furthermore, I don’t see myself as bitter person although I can be from time to time because some things are just too hard to swallow. I do, however, see myself as someone who understands that forgiveness is not exactly the point.
Transformation is the point. Revolution is the point. Forgiveness has no place in a world dominated by unapologetically flaunting oppressors. Because sometimes forgiving becomes forgetting, and the cycle of oppression and violence starts all over again, while we smile to each others faces and shake each others hands, hiding knives behind over backs.
If I deeply wrong someone, I don’t expect forgiveness.
Don’t ask me for forgiveness, don’t expect it, and always ask yourself why you want it.
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Shannon T. Rucker is a twenty-four year old blogger and creative writer. She graduated from Seattle University in 2010 with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing, a minor in Sociology, and a specialization in Diversity, Citizenship, and Social Justice. Her passions are womanism/Black feminism, anime and gaming, intersectionality, fat acceptance, creative arts, cats, and just plain expressing herself. She writes speculative fiction/Afrofuturism, poetry, and romance and is the moderator of a collection of blogs, including Every Smile a Lie: a living while fat journal.