Forgiveness as a Free Choice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Life itself starts with conflict: the first cry of a baby, its face showing a grimace of suffering and protest against the force that pushes it out, is a good illustration of this first conflict of our lives. We spend all the stages of our lives, our youth, our adult years, and even our senior years, in conflict. Our struggles are eternal and remain our closest companions throughout our existence; thus any mature individual is an experienced fighter, while his main opponents are his co-workers and the ones he loves most.

Submitted: January 29, 2008

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Submitted: January 29, 2008

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Whether we like it or not, our life is filled with both obvious and hidden conflicts that are usually caused by clashes between real interests and imaginary reasons. Life itself starts with conflict: the first cry of a baby, its face showing a grimace of suffering and protest against the force that pushes it out, is a good illustration of this first conflict of our lives. We spend all the stages of our lives, our youth, our adult years, and even our senior years, in conflict. Our struggles are eternal and remain our closest companions throughout our existence; thus any mature individual is an experienced fighter, while his main opponents are his co-workers and the ones he loves most.
The cycle of struggle includes a constant exchange of numerous punches, until destiny separates the opponents and they find new opponents to fight with. Sometimes people succeed in destroying each other in a more efficient manner; for example, they may kill each other. But here we will not address such extreme cases. The substance of our concern is the endless sequence of minor conflicts that constitutes our entire life.
People fight not only with other people, but also with inanimate objects; for example, when we get hit by a chair or a table we react very similarly to the way we would react to a person in that situation—we curse, threaten, or sometimes even try to hit back. In more advanced stages of our obsession we even talk to inanimate objects; we may beg them and sometimes even threaten them. Most of the time this happens when we communicate with our computers. It is not uncommon to hear, “Come on! Don’t do that to me!” We often address our computers this way, especially when they freeze.
Once when I got angry at my computer I even went so far as to spit at the monitor; that’s why I always keep a box of Kleenex at my desk. Sometimes we argue with our computers, and most of the time they win. They win because they don’t have any emotions, and being emotional doesn’t help when you are trying to win an argument. But being passionate usually helps, because passion is not just an empty emotion. Passion is the pure energy of our soul.
Most of the time we have conflicts with animate objects like pets, or even mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are the only species that we kill on a daily basis. Of course we eat meat—beef and chicken—which is a result of daily killings, but we as consumers are not involved in the butchering process. In the case of mosquitoes we are the active killers; because when we defend ourselves that usually justifies any killing.
Look at the kinds of conflicts we have with God, destiny, fate, or whatever we call the superior force that governs our lives.
We fight the laws of nature. We especially hate gravity; when things fall on the floor we usually say “damn gravity!” and this is no joke. By saying this we are opposing a basic force in the universe, without which practically nothing can exist. We fight gravity by saying “why can’t we fly like birds?” and we actually are overcoming it—by flying in our dreams. With the advent of manned flight we are now conquering the laws of physics to achieve those dreams.
We also fight the temperature. We are a moderate species, so we do not enjoy the extremes oftemperature at either end of its range. Most of all we hate and fight death—the fact that we are all inevitably going to die drives us crazy. In the lengthy, boring process of evolution—from simple one-celled organisms to our present stage of development as well-developed multi-celled organisms with obvious esthetic and spiritual needs—nature has taught us by imprinting in our long- term memory and subconscious that death is a major failure of our life and one that should be constantly avoided and prevented at all costs.
The process of fighting consumes a lot of our energy which we lose in a series of offences and defenses, aggressions and withdrawals, the “slings and arrows” of outrageous fortune that William Shakespeare has so eloquently elucidated for us. This fighting was vital in the early stages of our evolution as human beings, because a refusal to fight signified unavoidable death. But in modern society the refusal to fight sometimes, although not necessarily, constitutes a death threat. Luckily western culture doesn’t kill losers, which is a good thing because some so-called “losers” that refuse to fight for the illusory values of modern society—like career, wealth, and power—have an opportunity to use their energy for peaceful observation of our world, our universe, and our place therein. These “losers” are called philosophers. I don’t mean the guys that fight their way through academic institutions to get high degrees in philosophy; I’m speaking of the simple people that have chosen a lifestyle of deep thought and observation as a way of spending their time and attention.
That is the true freedom of choice: refuse to take part in most of the conflicts and just forgive the offender, whoever or whatever it is: a table that you get hit by, your neighbor that has stolen
something from you, or your friend that has betrayed you for the thousandthtime. Forgiveness of the enemy is the best way to save your energy for a better cause. The fighting and hatred that are always involved in any struggle are very destructive for both parties involved. They hurt both our spirit and our mind; they distract us from really worthy issues that should be explored and given thought to. Moreover, a life full of conflicts could be considered irrational, because in the modern world you cannot really prevail by destroying your opponent; you cannot kill your neighbor without suffering severe consequences, nor can you kill your friend who probably deserves it for betraying you time and time again. Therefore, no matter how hard you fight you will always feel dissatisfied with the results, even in the case of ultimate victory, because modern society doesn’t allow conflicts to continue to their natural point of resolution— which in nature often constitutes the killing or destruction of the enemy. In today’s world, there is no way to destroy an enemy without destroying yourself. The death I speak of is not merely physical, but more of a spiritual and moral corruption that necessitates our demise.
In order to execute our true freedom of choice we must consider forgiveness of our enemies and opponents, because the one who forgives always has the choice of whether or not to forgive. The one who is forgiven, who always fights, is just an object of aggressive tendencies and therefore enjoys less freedom of choice, because he will always revert to the baser instincts of conflict.For as Sun Tzu says:
“There is no greater misfortune than that of underestimating your enemy. Underestimating your enemy means thinking that he is evil. Thus you destroy your three treasures and become an enemy yourself.When two great forces oppose each other, the victory will go to the one who knows how to yield.”
In contemplation and introspection we allow ourselves to embrace freedom of choice, because we are no longer locked into a cycle of hatred and destruction. Through these enlightened philosophical positions we are able to pursue the most reasonable and morally suitable courses of action, which is something we should all seek to do.


© Copyright 2017 Bruce Kriger. All rights reserved.

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