Wednesday 9 October 2019

Thought Picnic: Sometimes, forgiveness is arrogance and ignorance defeated

Giving and getting without the for
The ability to differentiate between forgiving and forgetting was brought home to me again when I visited the District Six Museum and followed the guided tour hosted by a former resident.
She told her story with depth and feeling, it was palpable, we maintained such respectful silence as she relayed how Apartheid dehumanised an entire community in the pursuit of fulfilling a policy of the segregation of races.
She had not forgotten every single detail of what happened to her up to her mother dying within 48 hours of being forcefully ejected from a home where she raised 11 children.
History, not misery
For me, there is a lot to remember and much else I must never forget, all these in their recollections and stories are part of my life, my history, my narrative, and forms part of how my worldview is defined.
We all need our stories and some of us get to tell them in brutal and excruciating detail. Forgiveness, however, is how we allow those experiences to define us. Whether we would allow the wrongs and those who have wronged us to continue to have a hold on our lives and by their presence become an interminable upset brewing unmitigated resentment and bitterness.
People are who they are
This is where I begin to compartmentalise, some people are pathological sociopaths, they would never acquire an iota of emotional intelligence. I know I few and I have extricated them from my purview, our lives have diverged and long may that divergence continue until distance and time has obliterated every smidgen of whatever constituted our encounter.
Some may not know how to empathise, they think the world revolves around them. To some, I have been as blunt as I can be, to others, I have refused to be wrapped around their fingers, to be at their beck and call. I jealously guard my independence, it is with great difficulty that my autonomy would be subdued for longer than it takes for me to realise I am being played.
People are really who they are
I excuse a lot because for all sorts of reasons, the lives of others have followed courses I cannot begin to understand. Once I find a context within which to characterise that expression of themselves, I can deal with the situation. Between taking liberties and making allowances, you find a way to coexist with consideration out of contemplation.
I do not know if I am my own greatest critic, but I have been able to look at myself at certain times and accept I have flaws, faults, frailties, foibles, falsehoods, and foolishness. Some things I am about to do on impulse would be trammelled by premonition and conscience. I hope to be more alert to these guardians of my soul. I have learnt not to condemn myself in the things I have allowed and in that, I find some forgiveness for myself.
Even in the many cohorts I have identified, I probably have to seek forgiveness for things done and said, in omission and commission, it is a process of getting to be at ease with both oneself and others. Have there been times I have come across as supercilious? At times, it is where I have put myself and in others, it is a projection redolent of where they have put themselves. I strive to lift than to debase.
Disabling my ignorance
In terms of hypocrisy, I am of the opinion that it is not entirely a bad thing, it is a source of knowledge, both the person with a speck in their eye and the other with a beam in their eye need the speck and the beam removed so they can both see clearly.
In the process of managing oneself and understanding the work of forgiveness, in the words of the management sage, Peter Drucker, I need to “discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.” Take out the word ‘intellectual’ and much more can be done to better oneself, by learning and unlearning with the view to overcoming fundamental flaws in our humanity.

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