On Forgiveness—Part IV

If I accept that the first person I must learn to forgive is myself, how do I do this? What if I have done something truly awful? What if I have abused children or committed genocide? I once told someone that you don’t know anything about forgiveness until you can forgive Hitler. I will start by saying that I cannot offer forgiveness on behalf of anyone else.

If I have hurt someone I cannot offer forgiveness for the hurt I have caused them. I am not God, and that absolution is not mine to give. I cannot forgive Hitler for the millions who were tortured and murdered as a consequence of his hatred and insanity, that absolution is not mine to give. Forgiveness is a cancellation of a debt. If I am owed nothing, there is no debt to forgive.

If I choose to forgive myself what I am doing is making the choice to no longer punish myself for what I have done, but that doesn’t free me from the consequences of actions where there is a debt to be payed to others.

How to Tell if You are an Extremist

Politics has been called the “art of compromise”, but that title is only true in a democracy. In a democracy compromise is the only way to get things done. Democracy caters to the centre. It exerts tidal forces that push it’s participants to the centre of the political spectrum. That is why often, in a democracy, the dominant parties tend to end up, ideologically, looking very much like each other.

The extremes define themselves by their opposition to compromise. Extreme views exert the opposite force that democracy exerts. Extreme political views push participants away from the centre. The political extremes, whether “left” or “right”, favour dictatorial governments.

So the answer to the question is very simple. If you find yourself disliking democracy. If you find yourself wishing that a strong leader, who favours your political views, would assume control of the political discourse, and not relinquish it, there is a good chance that your political views are extremist in nature, no matter where they lie on the political compass.