Monday, October 1, 2012

Forgiveness is within

No matter our ethnicity, age, social bracket or even economic status, at some point in life all of us will seek to receive, give freely or even begrudgingly—forgiveness.  To err against another is as akin to mankind as stripes are to a zebra.  It may come in different patterns, but it’s still identifiable. When that happens we are faced with the challenge (and I do mean challenge) of choosing to forgive the transgressor or carry that transgression around as if it was a possession.

To forgive is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. How do men and women view forgiveness?  Are their thoughts on the matter universal?  In an attempt to answer those questions, I conducted an unscientific and random survey of 50 women and 50 men between the ages of 26 and 70.

Each individual was asked the following five questions. The questions were asked not for elaboration, but merely a yes or no answer and all parties involved consented to do so. The results were quite interesting and revealing despite its lack of science.

1.       Do you believe in forgiveness?

2.       Have you ever sincerely asked someone to forgive you?

3.       Do you consider yourself to be a forgiving person?

4.       Do you truly move past the incident once you have forgiven someone?

5.       Do you forgive yourself?

The findings were as follows:

1.       60% of the woman believed in forgiveness compared to 100% of the men.  

2.       Whereas 100% of women had sincerely asked for forgiveness, 20% of the men hadn’t.  

3.      While 100% of women considered themselves to be a forgiving person, only 60% of the men claimed likewise.  

4.      80% of the women surveyed said they do not move past the incident even though they claim to forgive.  Surprisingly 80% of the men stated they do move past the incident once forgiven. 

5.      The last question was indeed an eye opener.  When asked about forgiving oneself, each female surveyed responded quickly and without hesitation and 60% admitted to being capable of forgiving themselves.  When posed with the same question to a man each one paused and some even did so for over a minute or more before answering and 80% responded with a resounding no, they do not forgive themselves.

How would you answer the above listed five questions?  In all of us there is room for growth, improvement and change.  Let’s start with developing the ability to forgive and the first one that benefits from that should be—YOU.         

The English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) once wrote and it is so apt, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”