Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
IN THIS ISSUE
Breakthrough
"Productive insight; clear (often sudden) understanding of a complex situation."  Free Dictionary

Pop the bubble of conditioned thinking and emerge into the creative realm of "no absolutes," continuous change, uncertainty and unlimited possibilities.

Then, there can be innovation, adaptation and optimal performance.
Performance and Open-minded Mindfulness
Open-minded:questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty.  

Mindful: consciously aware; concentrated. 

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.

Breakthrough
Newsletter

VOLUME VII ISSUE NO. 7 | JULY 2015 

Forgiveness Is the Best Revenge

By George Pitagorsky

 

I find it inspirational to hear people in the midst of grief and loss forgive the murderer of their loved ones or their own torturers.

 

Yet, just today, a holocaust survivor was criticized for extending a hug of forgiveness to a 93-year-old ex-Nazi functionary at Auschwitz convicted of complicity in thousands of murders. She said, "Forgiveness is the best revenge. They no longer have any power over me."
 

Some people I have spoken with, believe that the recent expressions of forgiveness by the families of those murdered in Charleston are false. Some of those critics believe that to really come to forgiveness the anger must be expressed.

 

Others believe that there are "some acts that are so terrible that we should recognize them as such. We should recognize them as beyond forgiving."1 Ms. Gay ends her OP Ed piece with "They [white people] want to believe it is possible to heal from such profound and malingering trauma because to face the openness of the wounds racism has created in our society is too much. I, for one, am done forgiving."

 

What is Forgiveness?

"Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well."2 "Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act." 3

 

There is nothing in the definition that absolves the perpetrator of his guilt or condones the act. There is nothing in the definition that says the forgiver is turning away from facing the "openness of the wounds" caused by the crimes committed in the name of racism or any other cause. There is nothing about forgetting.

 

Forgiveness asks if we can open to the offender as just another one of us who has been deluded into thinking that, they are somehow justified in committing an act of terror. Can we not wish them well while we see to it that justice is done and we protect ourselves from them into the future?

 

To me, forgiveness is a spiritual act. A method for transmuting fear, anger and hatred into love. However, like any act it is the intention behind it that is most important.

 

The one who forgives practices letting go. Authentic forgiveness frees the forgiver, whether it effects the forgiven or not. Authentic forgiveness is forgiveness that arises from the desire to express loving kindness and compassion for all beings. It stems from the belief that to hate is harmful to the hater and that revenge is self-destructive.

 

Forgiveness is about the forgiver. Psychopathic and ideologically driven terrorists think that what they are doing is right and requires no forgiveness. The racist who kills in a church, the anti-Semite who kills in a supermarket or synagogue, the zealots who shoot, burn and torture, the bombers that destroy in the name of God and country have prioritized their cause above human life; they no longer seek to cultivate unconditional compassion and loving kindness. Haters, even those who hate haters, view forgiveness as weakness. They have lost themselves in emotion and ideology.

 

Paradox

We are faced with a paradox. On one hand, grief and fear generate anger that could be directed into retaliation, just war, terrorist acts that strike down an oppressive system, the nonbelievers. On the other, there is the resolve to open the heart and let loving kindness and compassion arise out of the anger.

 

In history, each of us can identify just wars and just acts of rebellion, which others saw as terrorist acts. It is a matter of subjective values. Nationalism, religion, economic interest, ideology. What would have happened if we relied on loving kindness and compassion in lieu of armed resistance and open warfare to deal with Nazism or oppression by a colonial power or autocrat? Sometimes, resistance, whether armed or passive, is necessary.

 

How do we decide whether to be dedicated to non-violence and compassion and when to direct righteous anger into active violent resistance?

 

Can we be loving, kind and compassionate while slaughtering our enemies? Didn't Krishna counsel Arjuna to go to battle against his foes? Even Christ has been used to justify war for the right reason. The God of Israel only suspends justice in favor of total compassion only one day a year.

 

How to Decide

Hopefully, we decide on our action based on a deep inquiry into motivation, the consequences of our actions, and our broader context and intentions. If the action is driven by un-assessed anger and blind belief, step back and see what alternatives there are.

 

Maybe, in the case of the survivors of the Charleston church killings, they decided to forgive because they simply sought to emulate Christ, their paradigm of forgiveness. Hopefully, they were not hiding from their feelings. Maybe they were consciously choosing to emulate rather than to be driven into the more natural response of anger and the need for revenge.

 

Those who can forgive the murderer and at the same time rely on the justice system, as flawed as it is, to resolve the legal aspects, without need for revenge, are able to work through their grief and anger without being taken over by their afflictive emotions.

 

That ultimately is what wisdom teachings teach, how to completely experience feelings and emotions without having to act them out. The acting out is just another technique for avoiding the depth of the emotions. The acting out burns the reaction into the mind as the normal thing to do. Revenge may feel good, but all it does is fuel the fires of hatred.

 

Forgiveness requires the acceptance of what was and is, no matter how terrible. It requires that one consciously decide to make loving kindness and compassion a priority, if not the priority in their lives. When you cannot or will not forgive, question your understanding of forgiveness and your resistance to it, then decide. 

____

1 Gay, Roxanne, Why I Can't Forgive Dylann Roof, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/opinion/why-i-cant-forgive-dylann-roof.html?_r=0] .

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness]

3 www.mayoclinic.org/healthy.../forgiveness/art-20047692] 

 

2015 George Pitagorsky                                                 Top

Performance and Open-minded Mindfulness

Open-minded: 

questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty.  
 
Mindful:
 consciously aware; concentrated. 

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.

 Learn More
Managing Conflict in Projects
By George Pitagorsky
Managing Conflict in Projects: Applying Mindfulness and Analysis for Optimal Results by George Pitagorsky charts a course for identifying and dealing with conflict in a project context.

Pitagorsky states up front that conflict management is not a cookbook solution to disagreement-a set of prescribed actions to be applied in all situations. His overall approach seeks to balance two aspects of conflict management: analysis based on a codified process and people-centered behavioral skills.

The book differentiates conflict resolution and conflict management. Management goes beyond resolution to include relationship building that may serve to avoid conflict or facilitate resolution if it occurs.

 

Read More
The Zen Approach to Project Management 
By George Pitagorsky

Projects are often more complex and stressful than they need to be. Far too many of them fail to meet expectations. There are far too many conflicts. There are too few moments of joy and too much anxiety. But there is hope. It is possible to remove the unnecessary stress and complexity. This book is about how to do just that. It links the essential principles and techniques of managing projects to a "wisdom" approach for working with complex, people-based activities.

Home  /  Blog  /  About  /  Contact