A Lack Of Forgiveness

Periodically I see some re-runs of my favorite TV cop drama, Blue Bloods, but I’ve begun to notice something. Even though the central characters are portrayed to be Catholics and abide by some of the traditions with which they were raised, there is a serious lack of forgiveness on display.

I don’t think this TV show is on an island when it comes to this issue. More and more our entertainment has bought into the revenge motif rather than that of forgiveness. In fact, instead of forgiveness, we simply are not to take offenses personally because it’s just business. Except when we ARE to be offended, at everything with which we disagree, and hurry off to our safe space where we don’t have to deal with people who cross boundaries we have created.

Of course some boundaries are good and necessary. Others, not so much.

But even more, we now root for the demise of those we find offensive.

I remember years ago when Iranian student terrorists stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, a film crew captured mobs of Iranian citizens in the streets cheering. I was horrified. Not only was there animosity with a nation that had been considered a friend, but people were cheering the capture and imprisonment of people who had lived among them. Then there was the loss of property.

I hadn’t realized how Iranians viewed their government or America for propping it up. But I couldn’t imagine the joy being expresses at the expense of others.

And yet, here in America, some thirty years later, people took to the streets in celebration when they heard that Osama bin Laden was dead.

In those few decades, the US went from a nation of grace and forgiveness—the kind that provided aid to a defeated Japan and Germany and Italy after World War II, such that those nations became our allies—to a nation that seems intent on revenge and pay back

I don’t think the shift is surprising. During this same period of time, we have shifted our moral compass in a fundamental way. Once we extended forgiveness to others because we understood that God first extended it to us. And that we needed it.

Today, as a nation, we couldn’t care less about extending forgiveness. We, like the other nations, advocate shock and awe in our treatment of enemies. Thankfully we still respected the laws set down by the Geneva Convention, so we did what we could in Iraq and in Afghanistan to avoid civilian causalities. But honoring international law is not the same thing as forgiveness.

Those of us US citizens who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior have a decision to make. We won’t ever be able to turn the clock back, but we can certainly influence our culture, as our forefathers once did. They allowed their Christian principles, notably forgiveness, to be a part of how they responded to people from other nations.

Do we follow that same pattern or are we intent on protecting ourselves?

Forgiveness is risky. People who hate you might continue to do you harm. That’s true here at home or in foreign places. But if we trust God for our protection, it’s not as risky as it may see. “So he answered, ‘Do not fear for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ ” (2 Kings 6:16)

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Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Forgiveness, is for family members, friends and strangers in some circumstances and it is a good individualistic trait to have and it will always be respected by others. Forgiving aggressive countries, no, this is politics and dirty fighting, no honour here, never was and never will be.

    Do you actually believe in forgiving Kim Jong for building the hydrogen weapons is worth taking the risk that he will not start a massive war? As you can see Kim has only recently obtained the capability and we are on the brink right now.

    Do you not remember that your President Bush asked God if he should go to war and it has famously created serious consequences for the world? Maybe God was wrong about that one, but what happens when the big time Trump also asks for God’s guidance? Do we risk the mother of all wars, the one that can potentially kill us all?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Steve, as you can tell, I’m catching up with my response to comments. Again, I am glad that you are engaged with the issues here and that you pass along your thoughts. Your ideas give me more to think about. A good thing!

      I do have to wonder, from your first paragraph, why you think forgiving family members, friends and some strangers is a good individualistic trait. In other words, were do you get your list of things that are good and things that are not good?

      About forgiving countries, I was perhaps writing in too much of a hurry. The US didn’t forgive Germany and Japan until they ceased being the aggressors. But we learned from history. After WWI, the allies treated Germany as an enemy to be oppressed, and the result gave fuel for Hitler’s rise ton power. After WWII we treated both Germany and Japan as people in need of help and they are today some of our strongest allies. It’s the people we should think about, not the nation or the leaders.

      Yes Saddam Hussein was someone responsible for evil acts, but that does not mean every Iraqi is therefore my enemy. Same with the Syrian leader and his people or even (gasp) ISIS. In regard to North Korea, I’m basically saying we should not hate North Koreans. When we have opportunity do do them good, we should step up and do so.

      It’s largely about our attitude, whether we want vengeance or whether we are willing to put past wrongs away.

      If we’re talking about current wrongs, then we’re discussing something else.

      Becky

      Like

  2. Hi Becky, I am glad that you see my comments as a good thing, you write some interesting posts and I do agree with you quite a lot here.

    The list of things that are good and not so good are not in that sort of category. You have to weigh up the circumstances, the current situation, your feelings and expectations etc. Some people I know have lifelong feuds with family members and I could never do that because contrary to your belief we are on this planet for a short time and when we die that’s it, all over rover. I would hate for a person, family friend or even a stranger to die and to be in a dispute with them.

    Attitude, I agree and I was taught that you should treat people as you would like to be treated. It is a pity that most of the world’s leaders were not taught the same lesson.

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