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Chaplains' Office Stories

Forgiveness

12:15 p.m., Wednesday, October 1st, 2014.

by Krithika Vachali

Forgiveness is a difficult to talk about, something apparent in the discussion we had at Shove Council last week. Perhaps instinctively, we shied away from thinking of larger issues of forgiveness, preferring instead to stick to one-on-one relationships and instances of forgiveness that are easier to rationalize, even imagine. At Shove, we all agreed that forgiveness can be more about the forgiver than the forgiven, that it affects the former’s quality of life and can be liberating. We also spoke at length about whether forgiveness meant absolution for the one forgiven, and the problems inherent with being an excessively apologetic person, one who apologizes at every opportunity. We grappled with the notion that forgiveness is often unspoken, a feeling of release within the forgiver, that the forgiven person need not always be aware of. In all these ways, we talked about how forgiveness features in our lives as college students, in the interpersonal relationships that we have with our fellow peers and other members of the CC community. There was, amongst all this, a resistance to the idea of not forgiving, of holding on to anger in some ways, in considering the unjustness of being asked to forgive something that perhaps cannot be. Perhaps it is harmful to hold anger within oneself, but is anger truly a terrible thing to hold? Can forgiveness make us as individuals self-interested, more concerned with unburdening ourselves, or does forgiveness allow us, as part of communities, to move on from debilitating circumstances and emerge the stronger for it? Engaging with issues of forgiveness for historical ills, being part of either a historically oppressed community or one that was an oppressor, grappling with when forgiveness is ours to give and when it does not, and whether we can speak for others in our search for forgiveness, or in our quest to give it, is difficult, and these questions emerged from our discussion, perhaps to be grappled with another day. Throughout the discussion, it was heartening to see that people were engaged, vocal, and involved.  New plates were chosen, names were scrawled on them, and lunch was consumed amongst spirited discussion. It was clear to see that the new Shove community for the year was already well on its way to being built.

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