Saturday, March 17, 2012

Love and Forgiveness

In 1970, the movie 'Love Story' came out and it brought to the world one of the most famous taglines ever:  "Love means never having to say you're sorry."  In our minds, that was one of the most profound and wonderful things that we had ever heard.  Considering we were probably sobbing so hard that our brains were muddled or we were on an acid trip and EVERYTHING seemed wonderful, I can forgive everyone for thinking this.  However, through the years I have come to realize that the statement is just so much bullshit--sounds good and means absolutely nothing.  (Kind of like politicians...)

Let's look at this a little further.  Forgiveness is pretty much part of the foundation of civilization.  We do something wrong--big OR small--and we are expected to feel remorse and ask for forgiveness from the person/people we wronged.  We see this in our courts and we see this on television and we read this in print.  Entire crime/law shows are written just so we can see the criminal allocute in court--and the criminal usually gets a lighter sentence for confessing, feeling remorse, and saying "I'm sorry."  How often have we seen politicians or celebrities take to the airwaves and apologize for saying or doing something the rest of the world sees as wrong?  And then the person usually goes off and continues with his/her career as if s/he did nothing wrong whatsoever--and we allow it because of the "I'm sorry."  (The Chris Brown 'incident/s' come to mind, however, I'm not 100% sure he ever used the words "I'm sorry.")

How often have we been wronged personally?  When our child lashes out at the age of three and slaps us, we INSIST on an apology and a promise to never hit again.  How many more divorces would there be if a spouse never apologized for wrong behavior?  Anything from leaving the wet towels in the middle of the bathroom floor to an affair can be rectified by a heartfelt "I'm sorry and will never do it again."  So, where does the statement "Love means never having to say your sorry." fit into anyone's concept of a loving relationship?

Therapists tell us--and clergy people, as well--that we CAN move forward if someone doesn't apologize for wronging us--we just need to forgive and move on.  This is something I have tried to do with The Family, and while I haven't been able to as of yet, I'm working on it.  To forgive a person's bad behavior when s/he doesn't think s/he did anything wrong takes a very strong person.  (I haven't become that strong, yet.)  We always like to have our feelings validated, that we were hurt in some way--and when the person doing the hurting doesn't see this, it minimalizes our feelings and shows just how little the wrongful person feels for us.  Causing hurt and pain to another person DEMANDS an apology and when that doesn't happen, how can a relationship continue in a loving way?  Instead of "Love means never having to say you're sorry" it should read "Love is saying you're sorry--and MEANING it."


meleah rebeccah said...

"To forgive a person's bad behavior when s/he doesn't think s/he did anything wrong takes a very strong person. (I haven't become that strong, yet.) "

Um... I'm not that strong yet, either. In fact there is ONE person I may NEVER be able to forgive.

cmk said...

I really admire anyone who CAN do this. I don't know what it will take, if anything, for me to be able to forgive without being asked.