I’ve done many condemnable things in the past. I was deeply self-centred and selfish. I was thoughtless, careless and ruthless. I made many people suffer from my actions and perhaps with my thoughts.
I spent many years punishing myself, consciously and unconsciously. I made myself suffer, probably more that I had made anyone else suffer before.
One day, helped by many wise masters that I had the instinctive wisdom of surrounding myself with, I realized that, paraphrasing Robert Holden, http://www.robertholden.org/
It is because the world is so full of suffering
that my happiness is a daily duty.
It is because the world is so unfriendly that my smile and as much kindness as I can muster, are a duty.
It is because the world is so full of war
that my peace of mind is a gift
It is because the world is in such despair
that my hope and optimism are a duty to my children and all my fellow human beings.
That is my daily atonement.
- The action of making amends for a wrong or injury.
- (in religious contexts) reparation or expiation for sin.
Those are the two basic definitions I got from the internet. I can’t see anywhere that they have to imply, condemnation, penalty, death, pain.
As an ex-catholic, it always amazes me our society’s difficulty with forgiveness. And, in my view, true forgiveness is forgetfulness (another of the benefits of old age), not of the facts, but of the offense.
However, more than often I encounter as Eva Kor, forgiver of the Nazi’s has found, that people rather stay stuck in their bitterness, their pain and they rather see someone else suffer than forgiving and forgetting. And God, how they grow old, like cheap wine, acidic and mouldy. http://www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org/about/eva-kor.htm
But I ask a simple question: what is the point of justice if it becomes a mean of revenge? Will it change the past? In which way will it change the future? For the better? I doubt it.
Sophocles said in his tragedies that violence engenders violence. Peace engenders peace.
I understand that people who have suffered at the hands of others, want to see justice. But is this a Christian feeling? Isn’t this, the ancient and barbaric Lex talionis or the Law of Talion, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?
Aren’t we supposed to be civilized?
Yes, by all means let justice be done, and people who have done wrong should be made to realize and atone for what they have done, but in a way that is positive for society. In a way in which the punishment makes a positive difference.
Another post next, about my personal view on forms of atonement.
I believe I am not unique in having been ashamed of myself a great part of my life.
And what a waste of time is was! Thank God, for me, it is in the past.
I just wish anyone out there who is still ashamed of who they are, or done, or, even worse, those who are ashamed of sharing their accomplishments, their joys, their hopes, their dreams, even if they will eventually, end in the bin, stop being ashamed.
Start being shameless! I already am.