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I am teaching a college course on research methods and last week, I taught a lesson on ethics in research. This is one of my favorite lessons in the course because I get to discuss the details of some of the greatest abuses in the history of science--the Nazi medical research and the Tuskegee syphilis study.

While nearly all of my students are familiar with the Nuremberg trials, most have only a vague familiarity of the Tuskegee syphilis study and few have knowledge of the Nazi doctor trials. The details usually arouse some emotion in the classroom and I often end up in email conversations following. This week, a student contacted me to inform me of a documentary about a survivor of the Nazi medical experiments. Her story is amazing.

Eva Mozes Kor

Eva Mozes Kor was eight years old when her family was sent to Auschwitz. Upon arriving at Auschwitz, prisoners were divided into two groups. One group consisted of relatively young, healthy adults who could be put to work. They were sent to a work camp. Everyone else was placed in a second group, a group which was sent to the extermination camp where they were executed.

'When the doors to our cattle car opened, I heard SS soldiers yelling, "Schnell! Schnell!" (Quick!), and ordering everybody out. My mother grabbed Miriam and me by the hand. She was always trying to protect us because we were the youngest. Everything was moving very fast, and as I looked around, I noticed my father and my two older sisters were gone. As I clutched my mother's hand, an SS man hurried by shouting, "Twins! Twins!" He stopped to look at us. Miriam and I looked very much alike. "Are they twins?" he asked my mother. "Is that good?" she replied. He nodded yes. "They are twins," she said ...

Once the SS guard knew we were twins, Miriam and I were taken away from our mother, without any warning or explanation. Our screams fell on deaf ears. I remember looking back and seeing my mother's arms stretched out in despair as we were led away by a soldier. That was the last time I saw her..."

Eva and her sister were the only survivors in her family...

Photobucket
This photo of Auschwitz survivors leaving the camp was taken after its liberation by the Soviet military in 1945. Eva, and her sister, Miriam, are in the very front, holding hands.

Eva and Miriam were spared the gas chambers because they were twins. One of the Nazi scientists, Dr. Josef Mengele, had a perverse interest in studying twins. Of the 1500 twin pairs Dr. Mengele studied, only 100 survived. Some were killed and dissected after the experiments. The rest succumbed as a consequence of his brutal studies, which sometimes included swapping limbs (amputation and re-attachment of the siblings limb) or in at least one case, surgery to create conjoined twins by sewing them together.

While Forgiving Dr. Mengele (Netflix link) spends some time talking about Eva's experiences as a victim of Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz, most of the film is spent discussing how she survived. Eva chose to forgive Dr. Mengele and all of the Nazis who were responsible for harming herself and her sister, and taking the lives of her loved ones. Watch the trailer below.




"Getting Even Has Never Healed a Single Person"

For Eva Kor, the best way to heal herself was to forgive the enemies who'd imprisoned and tortured her and killed her family.

It will heal your soul. It will set you free.

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness since I watched this documentary, and what it means for me in my own life. My experiences as a gay man growing up in a homophobic community can't compare to the horrors that this woman experienced. Still, she was able to go to Auschwitz with one of the Nazi doctors on the 50th anniversary of its liberation and offer him her forgiveness. Surely, there is a lesson in there for me.

I grew up gay in a small, conservative town in Reagan Democrat country. I attended an evangelical church that was extremely anti-gay. Because I was gender non-conforming as a child, I was bullied at school and at church. And the church community overlooked the bullying every bit as much as the school officials. We ended up leaving that church because of how I was treated, and very few people really seemed to care.

Looking back on the bullying I faced so many years ago, at church, in high school, even in college, I can remember what happened. I can remember how I felt. But I have trouble with many of the names. I can't remember who they are, only how they made me feel. If the only thing that I am holding on to is the pain that they inflicted upon me so many years ago--it's been more than 20 years since my family left that church--perhaps forgiving those who never apologized is the best way to move on?

I'm not sure. This is something I don't like to think about. But Eva's story has been making me think about the past.

There is some debate about what forgiveness means. Does it mean forgive and forget? Can you forgive someone for harming another? Does forgiveness show disrespect to those who died and cannot speak for themselves?

What does forgiveness mean to you?

Erase the hate.
Erase the discrimination.
Speak up.
Get involved.

If you would like to contribute to our Erase The Hate group, you can follow us by clicking the "heart" icon on our group profile, and ask us for an invitation by sending a message to one of the administrators. We look forward to hearing from you.

Originally posted to Erase the Hate on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Elders of Zion, Anglican Kossacks, Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos, HaYishuv, and Street Prophets .

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  •  Tip Jar (142+ / 0-)
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    PhilJD, poligirl, Agathena, MsGrin, Lady Libertine, wiscmass, gooderservice, triv33, StellaRay, Colorado is the Shiznit, Eddie L, Nada Lemming, buddabelly, jinx303, Ginger1, cosmic debris, Damnit Janet, Major Tom, temptxan, Jane Lew, commonmass, blueoasis, YucatanMan, Land of Enchantment, pot, musing85, ZhenRen, Marjmar, SethRightmer, bnasley, quarkstomper, edie haskell, wayoutinthestix, mofembot, marykk, TomP, eeff, Clarknt67, tgypsy, jamess, Anak, joanneleon, emal, ladypockt, Joieau, gulfgal98, smoothnmellow, Its a New Day, priceman, G2geek, petulans, just another vet, frandor55, shaharazade, pyegar, Diana in NoVa, Gowrie Gal, angel d, Lorikeet, georgesays, FogCityJohn, RiaD, Ginny in CO, jnhobbs, DEMonrat ankle biter, Canadian Green Card Alien, ohmyheck, roses, SoCalSal, JayinPortland, merrily1000, vcmvo2, millwood, glitterscale, jethrock, yoduuuh do or do not, highfive, badger, Dem Beans, dotsright, Villanova Rhodes, noweasels, churchylafemme, Idgie Threadgoode, Brown Thrasher, WisePiper, vgranucci, BachFan, Cassandra Waites, crose, Quilldriver, Flyswatterbanjo, nonnie9999, SallyCat, coronaheights, anodnhajo, dle2GA, shari, dsb, Flint, swellsman, SpecialKinFlag, westyny, slampros, Got a Grip, dalfireplug, 88kathy, shopkeeper, Bule Betawi, vigilant meerkat, skunkbaby, JNEREBEL, mayim, srkp23, allensl, Ian S, erratic, absolute beginner, CA coastsider, outragedinSF, rasbobbo, SoCalHobbit, Russgirl, porchdog1961, lcork, Williston Barrett, muddy boots, Trotskyrepublican, Nailbanger, dkmich, Emerson, Actbriniel, Geenius at Wrok, DefendOurConstitution, stegro, texasmom, blue aardvark, HCKAD, grover, joedemocrat, Oh Mary Oh, Wee Mama

    ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

    by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:00:02 PM PDT

  •  it takes 110% energy to start over after (35+ / 0-)

    deliberate traumatic abuse, attacks or crimes that is why there is practical utility in forgiveness; the spiritual rationale is for everyone else to decide for themselves;

    Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed. - Oprah Winfrey

    2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

    by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:10:12 PM PDT

    •  What an amazing quote. (19+ / 0-)

      Yes, there is practical utility.  Another survivor who disagrees with Eva's forgiveness at one point notes that her children once told her that she seems like she can never be happy. But she feels like she can't forgive the Nazis because her parents aren't alive to speak for themselves.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:14:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  when there is no justice when (13+ / 0-)

        people are not held accountable for the harm they do to others, for the real extent of their crimes, for the damage they inflict on other people then the culture will produce more abusers who will do the same or worse;

        when brutal anti-social behavior is rewarded you get Dr. Culter and Dr. Saenger, and Dr. Arthur Wentworth,Dr. Leo Stanley, Dr. Ewan Cameron, Dr. Henry Heiman, Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, Drs. Francis and Jonas Salk, Dr. William C. Black, Dr. Joseph Stokes, Dr. William Sweet, Dr. José Manuel Rodriguez Delgado, Dr. Albert M. Kligman. Dr. James Cattell etc etc etc and our government sponsoring involuntary human experimentation Ad infinitum;

        The Nazi “Doctor of Death,” Joseph Mengele, lived out his last years in hiding and infamy in South America. The American Dr. Mengele, Dr. John C. Cutler, who infected human beings with syphilis in Guatemala, as well as infecting and studying syphilis in men in Alabama while denying them treatment, died in the bosom of the American medical community, a man of honor and high esteem. Cutler’s crimes were “normalized and praised” because they were committed against non-white people.

        http://coto2.wordpress.com/...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        http://www.nytimes.com/...

        http://www.defense.gov/...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        Unethical human experimentation in the United States

        2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

        by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:45:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh yes, they must be held accountable. (11+ / 0-)

          I'm certainly not advocating forgiveness without accountability, and neither is Eva.

          ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

          by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:54:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the implied point of my second comment (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poligirl, shaharazade, Brown Thrasher

            IS...... that 'they are not' held accountable since it is customary medical, government, military, corporate practices to conduct INVOLUNTARY human experiments and it goes on-on-and-on

            2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

            by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:58:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  IMO forgiveness (6+ / 0-)

            is personal. You can release those who bullied you but it is good that you survived to bear witness.

            A lot of abused people are too ashamed to speak out, or too scared. Your transcendence from victim to advocate is your way of showing forgiveness.

            Society can't forgive they can only seek justice for the victims or often vengeance .

            You and Eva make a personal choice after much pain. Sometimes the pain seems so unbelievable that the question is asked, "how can you forgive that act of inhumanity?"

            Victor Frankel has also addressed this issue.

            As a survivor of abuse some days I forgive but on bad days I have to go through that process all over again. It's a daily task, in my experience.

            In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

            by vcmvo2 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:36:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well said (5+ / 0-)
              "You will not be punished for your anger, but you will be punished by your anger"
              ---The Buddha

              When you fill your self with anger and thoughts of revenge it is a poison that blots out your own humanity and the ability to love. Frankel knew this and saw its power in Auschwitz.

              Further, it when you get angry is when you make the really big mistakes in your life.

              The Buddha, however, never said not to hold people accountable though or be a sap and let yourself get abused again.

              •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                Drawing boundaries and feeling safe are the most important things to do. It helps to reinforce your integrity as a human being. I hold my abuser accountable personally but there will never be "social accountability" for it.

                I've had to do my own work on it because it was not readily talked about back then. Now it's much better but it's still hard for many to accept.

                I had to accept myself first.

                In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

                by vcmvo2 on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 09:22:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for those names and links (8+ / 0-)

          I recently did some reading about the lobotomies being performed at insane asylums around the U.S. by Dr. Walter Freeman.  He would travel by van and perform the procedure with his traveling kit at institutions and hospitals.  Some people back in the 40s would force the procedure on their gay children.

          Here is a good link:

          http://www.psychosurgery.org/

          •  Oh yes. (5+ / 0-)

            That was the "icepick" labotomy guy. There are many such stories from the dark days of psychiatry...

            ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

            by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:05:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  there is youtube (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psychodrew, zett, RiaD, Brown Thrasher, NonnyO

            on him too; he was insane; we let medical authority figures in this country get away with great crimes against humanity

            2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

            by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:11:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  here it is (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psychodrew, anyname, Brown Thrasher

              very disturbing stuff.  view with caution.

            •  Freeman was not remotely insane. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, freshwater dan

              Nor was he committing crimes against humanity. He was trying to refine a procedure for which Egas Moniz won a Nobel prize. It is barbaric to us now, just as shackling people to asylum walls -- the standard of care of the day -- was barbaric to him. (Selection of patients and informed consent are important, but separate, subjects.)

              Instead of a short youtube clip or a "victim" website, people can learn more from a decent biography of him by Jack El-Hai, or from Freeman and Watts' own Psychosurgery books. There is much to criticize and many outcomes to mourn, and the man had an enormous ego, but removing him from the context of his time or lumping him in with Mengele type butchers is grossly unfair and a misreading of history.

              •  medical authority figures (0+ / 0-)

                as pioneers of interest to you;  but I think they have way to little boundaries for their enormous egos;

                Most lobotomy procedures were done in the United States, where approximately 40,000 people were lobotomized.

                In Great Britain, 17,000 lobotomies were performed, and the three Nordic countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden had a combined figure of approximately 9,300 lobotomies.

                Scandinavian hospitals lobotomized 2.5 times as many people per capita as hospitals in the US.

                Sweden lobotomized at least 4,500 people between 1944 and 1966, mainly women. This figure includes young children.

                In Norway there were 2,500 known lobotomies. In Denmark there were 4,500 known lobotomies, mainly young women, as well as mentally retarded children.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                In 1948 Norbert Wiener, the author of Cybernetics: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, said: "[P]refrontal lobotomy... has recently been having a certain vogue, probably not unconnected with the fact that it makes the custodial care of many patients easier. Let me remark in passing that killing them makes their custodial care still easier."

                ^ Norbert Wiener Cybernetics, p. 148, The MIT Press, 1948 ISBN 026273009X

                2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

                by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:06:23 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not defending lobotomy or the Nobel committee. (0+ / 0-)

                  But this is not the right diary to expand on this, although surviving patients could probably benefit from psychodrew's discussion. Thanks.

                  •  can tell (0+ / 0-)

                    when you start with 'not the right diary for this'.... that your ideas won't survive a strong debate;

                    your role as 'hall monitor'  refuge- - signal that can't come up with a good counter;

                    well...... it's late and you can say you aren't defending lobotomy and the Nobel committee  but after your comments do just that what else can you say but deny it!

                    2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

                    by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:13:11 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If psychodrew invites the discussion, fine! (0+ / 0-)

                      As a practical matter, I won't say "anytime, anywhere" for a fuller discussion, but I'll happily say "sometime, somewhere." It may deserve more eyeballs than it will get at this late point in the thread. Maybe I'll diary it someday. It won't be soon -- my copies of the books are packed away -- but it could be interesting. Or you could and I'll comment. Whatever.  

                      Care to defend "insane" and "crimes against humanity"? We can start with definitions if you like, and then see if the evidence fits.

              •  families - rescind Nobel Prize (0+ / 0-)

                2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

                by anyname on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:13:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  If you haven't seen it and are still interested (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psychodrew

            in the topic, try Jack El-Hai's book on Freeman. Can't remember the name off-hand. He had access to sources that others have not tapped.

        •  anyname, I am confused. Is your (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          psychodrew, Trotskyrepublican

          list of doctors, including Jonas Salk, supposed to represent physicians who were involved with involuntary human experimentation?

          If so, and you are referring to the physician who developed the first effective polio vaccine, which he refused to patent, I am amazed. What qualifies him for that list?

          Psychodrew, my sister was involved in a very difficult relationship and living arrangement in her 20's. A friend who was an Episcopal priest sent her a card she shared and I have never forgotten.  It said:

          "A bitter heart devours it's owner."

          I have seen a lot of interest in forgiveness over the last 5 - 10 years and consider it a sign that we might actually be making progress. Forgiveness does not mean to forget entirely. We cannot just forgive people who kill or abuse others. They have to deal with the punishment. Forgiving is more for the person who gives than receives. They have the problem of forgiving themselves. Much more difficult.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:21:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Details are in the final link (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psychodrew

            While a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan in 1941, Dr. Salk worked with one of his mentors from medical school, Dr. Thomas Francis, on influenza research (which, according to Salk, was instrumental in his later work on polio). As part of that research, they deliberately infected patients with influenza by spraying the virus into their nasal passages. The patients in question were inmates at several Michigan mental institutions.

            Furthermore, after he developed his polio vaccine, Dr. Salk first tested it on himself, his wife, and their three children. At least by today's standards, that would be considered a violation of both medical ethics (doctors do not normally treat--or do research on--members of their own families), and likely would not pass muster for IRB review on informed consent grounds.

          •  well aware of Drs. Salk (0+ / 0-)

            looks like you don't know their history; my point is http://en.wikipedia.org/... use this link to read up on summary of their involuntary unethical human experiments....... THEN THEY were rewarded and elevated to hero status for polio vaccine.... if you'll consider reading all the links in one of my first comments to see that the substance of my criticism is how unethical medical experiments are accepted, funded and socially normalized; with medical 'metals' of honor and so forth;

            the same way that old money great fortunes are often generated on primary criminal acts of exploitation then later the 'old money' is revered and the robber-pirates (give them your own adjective) are elevated by myth and legend to clean up their actual history; the culture re-writes its own history sweeps dirt under the rug;

            I'm interested in 'overlooked' and 'normalized' history of unforgive-able unspeakable unethical crimes against humanity perpetrated by medical authorities.... the holocaust was generated out of social permission to scapegoat euthanize and kill by medical community under National Socialism before the concentration camps and the ovens were built;

            my research exercise shared with this thread is to help raise awareness and consciousness about the depth and breadth of ignoring our history then substituting it with trumped up myths and legends;

            2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

            by anyname on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 06:36:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  There are some things (7+ / 0-)

      I can't forgive in my life, but I hold no desire for vengeance. I figure God can do the forgiving if that is required. They can stay the hell away from me for the rest of my life.*

      * Speaking about loved ones murdered by evildoers. I don't even know who they are in one case, in the other I spent seven long years exacting every last bit of 'justice' the legal system offered.

      But no matter what, the living must go on. That involves 'letting go' at some point, and trusting God or karma to exact whatever ultimate justice is required. Hatred - and that need for vengeance - will destroy you much quicker and more thoroughly than letting go will.

      •  Some escape human accountability, so (5+ / 0-)

        I try to live by this Bible verse

        Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

        Romans 12:19

        It is easier said than done.

        ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

        by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:38:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hope that bit is wrong (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          psychodrew, zett, RiaD, Joieau

          I'm agnostic, but philosophically, I believe perfect understanding implies perfect forgiveness, and perfect power implies perfect love. Your God is omniscient and omnipotent, yes? What would God be punishing, exactly, and why? To punish someone who had gone against his plan? To move things from a less perfect to a more perfect state of being? I believe I see contradictions in those positions, but I know wiser minds than mine have hashed this all out before, so maybe I am wrong.

          •  I don't presume I know (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            psychodrew

            what "perfect" justice would look like. I know there's a vast disconnect in real life evil - a Hitler can only die once, no matter how many millions he has murdered. And we live in a world where death-dealing in large portion is idolized by entire nations and peoples.

            Hell, just thinking about what "perfect" justice would entail in a reality where there's no such thing as death - but merely the theft of time in life - is beyond my ken.

            I just know what gross injustice feels like. And what a quest for some modicum of human justice entails. And how much damage one killer can do to people he never targeted, just because they surrender themselves to hate and a desire for vengeance.

            Karmically, I think the letting go - when it's entirely warranted by circumstance - is possibly more of a service to justice than hanging onto the hate could ever be.

          •  What I have always taken that verse to mean (4+ / 0-)

            is that I should not seek revenge against those who've harmed me. I think it was God's way of telling us that we lack the proper perspective as the one harmed to decide what justice should be.

            ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

            by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:20:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I like this! (3+ / 0-)

              That's my perspective. We lack proper perspective for judgement.

            •  We may also lack access to proper methods. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psychodrew

              I've thought often since I began considering such questions that since ignorance is bliss, knowledge might as well be hell.

              Imagine being someone like Hitler, dying, and suddenly having a deity completely erase the protections of 'one is a tragedy, a million is a statistic' by telling you intimately just who you hurt, how, and exactly what it felt like. All of them. And the people who were hurt by what happened to those people. And the people who were hurt when someone else used what you did as justification for what he did. And so on and so on.

              Humans can't hope to ever do something like that. An omniscient deity who knows exactly what each of his created creatures experiences, however...

              (That's one of the things that gets to me about people who have issues with the times when I believe in Universal Salvation: It doesn't take fire and brimstone or even just shutting the gates to someone to make them utterly miserable. Just knowledge of what they did to other people. Being able to truthfully say "I believe [Horrid Person] went to heaven, same as everyone else" by no means means that person believes [Horrid Person] did not receive some pretty nasty and lasting punishment for whatever he or she did in life.)

              Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

              by Cassandra Waites on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:49:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Amen (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassandra Waites, musing85

                ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

                by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:12:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Are you a mind reader? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassandra Waites

                You just described my afterlife justice fantasy to a T. Except for one thing: it is not really punishment, it is a loving education designed to bring that person back into the fold, to ensure that we can all look at them in the afterlife and see the human being, not the monster. But yeah, if you are into the idea of vengeance, there's that aspect to it, too, I mean, Hitler's gonna have a LOT of suffering to go through before he understands what he did.

                As I said, I'm agnostic. I don't really care what entity pulls this off, and there are ways that, given enough time and energy, we could evolve to the point where we could do it. And maybe, if there is a creator God, that was his plan all along: that he would never need to interfere directly because we, his creations, would eventually evolve to the point where we are the universe's own perfect understanding of and love of itself, the real image of Him.

          •  I used to struggle with that question myself (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites

            Then I came on a passage from Thomas Merton's Seasons of Celebration: Meditations on the Cycle of Liturgical Feasts (1965):

            The chesed of God is a gratuitous mercy that considers no fitness, no worthiness and no return. It is the way the Lord looks upon the guilty and with His look makes them at once innocent. This look seems to some to be anger because they fly from it. But if they face it, they see that it is love and that they are innocent. (Their flight and their confusion of their own fear make them guilty in their own eyes.)

            --p. 178

            The Hebrew term chesed (חסד) is usually translated along the lines of "kindness," "love," "loving-kindness," etc. But the point that resonated for me in that passage is the fact that God only shows love toward those guilty of crimes or sins--it is their own fear and confusion that drive them away from the mercy of God, not that God assigns them to perdition--they choose it for themselves. And it is most orthodox theology, at least in Catholic circles, that hell, the place of torment, is really a state of being in which the sinner is separated from God. I hew to the belief that it is the sinner's choice to remain there, not God's judgment.

      •  It is about a strong and decent heart that (0+ / 0-)

        makes you more whole by being in sync with all of existence where every joyful thing comes from. A heart that is not chewed up by lack of mercy and kindness and compassion because it is in agony of knowing what it is . If it doesn't even have that semblance of humanity then it is an empty vessel that can not comprehend the unity of all existence and its ties to all others. Then that one is truly gone when the vessel dies.

        Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:21:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I would slightly change Oprah's quote (3+ / 0-)
      Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed. - Oprah Winfrey

      to:

      Forgiveness is accepting the fact that the past cannot be changed.

      The past was what it was.  It will never change and wishing it had been different won't make it so.  It just has to be accepted for what it was.

      Actually, certain things I never forgive.  Pelosi "taking impeachment off the table," for one.  But that's kind of a meta thing and not personal.

      I adopt another strategy for wrongdoing against me in my private life.  I walk away, go away.  I never talk about it.  I adopt the attitude of an old Japanese proverb:

      If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by.

      In one specific instance of a boss who was a complete ass, I found another job at a higher salary, moved, went on with my life.  Not more than a year or so later, I talked to one of my previous co-workers.  With me gone and not covering their butts regarding reports and such, they didn't have anyone as a buffer between them and the boss..., and all 25-30 of them met, called the head honcho at the state capitol, told him that the local boss had to go or they'd quit en masse (all were men with wives and children; had they all quit at the same time it would have been disastrous).  I had been the first and only woman hired in the district for seven years, and the local head honcho was only in his position after the previous good guy big boss had retired.  So, the state head honcho transferred this schmuck to the head office and a desk job for a couple of years until he could retire, and replaced him with someone else.

      Forgive the ass who made my life miserable?  No.  But I did smile that he got his comeuppance..., and I didn't have to lift a finger to do anything.  He got better than what he deserved by being allowed to retire; the ass should have been fired.  Still, knowing someone else finally figured out what a miserable cretin he was and moving him out of the district so he didn't make anyone else's life miserable gave me an adrenalin rush and a grin for a full week.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:47:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I watched Oprah episode (0+ / 0-)

        give that exact quote to family members abused, traumatized and  inhumanly victimized by their own parents; she was helping those grown up adult children ( who had the wear-with-all to stay bonded as siblings) to find perspective and balance with the powerful universal instinct to love one's parents no matter how terrible they are; that is a child's universe where survival is the driving force that bonds with the instinct to love one's parent;  

        Oprah helped her guests honor themselves as to elevate the adult choice that goes beyond honoring their inborn instinct to love their abusive criminal (convicted for their felony abuse against their family members) parents;

        the program was about forgiveness and Oprah was helping them move beyond their childhood innocent imperative to overcome resentment and bitterness  making the best of their traumatized, damaged lives; Oprah counseled them to identify with the adult universe where survival depends on honoring yourself for making the best of life circumstances and bettering themselves...

        Oprah was honoring them and asking them to honor themselves for their strength and courage to survive the very worst of evil inhumanity done to them;


        don't attempt to re-write/diminish/or ignore  CONTEXT
        where the quote was put into public domain by Oprah; the context brings en-lightenment she wasn't slinging slogans; her personal story and that particular abused family were the grist circumstances which she  found and polished her wisdom -

        if you don't find wisdom in the exact quote you perhaps are missing the beauty and wonder of getting word for word value from credible worthy people and their living history;

        2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

        by anyname on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 06:57:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In my case.... (0+ / 0-)

          ... it's a matter of simply not comprehending parental abuse.  I'm 65 years old and did not grow up with that.

          I'm one of those lucky people who had a father who was - in my mind - the kindest, most gentle and compassionate man who ever walked the planet.  He never once, in all his 55 years, yelled at or spanked us kids.  Never.  Yes, I do know how lucky I am, and I still miss him (he's been dead 36 years).  Mom yelled at us sometimes, but she was a stay-at-home wife/mother and sometimes had migraines (and we did try her patience and I know it - no TV in those days, so she couldn't even plop us in front of the tube).

          Still, abuse is an alien concept to me.

          So, I can see how the same words meant in other contexts can be slightly re-worded to fit other circumstances.

          No disrespect intended, in any case.  I do know some other people were not fortunate enough to have good parents.

          (I refuse to get cable because I'm not about to pay to get ads I can get for free on two channels I can still get on analog broadcasts, so I didn't watch her show and didn't see the one you're talking about.)

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 07:54:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  she moved the nation/culture forward (0+ / 0-)

            as well as being a commercial success to the max when she wasn't just entertaining;

            I didn't watch her often or read her magazine but got the benefit of occasional gem quality show;

            one amazing gift she has is to take people in the condition she finds them and unleash their potential;  

            2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

            by anyname on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 08:28:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  This quote originated with A Course In Miracles (0+ / 0-)

      ..fyi. :)

      If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

      by rhetoricus on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:27:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that maybe (0+ / 0-)

        but if you'll read my comment I became enriched by the quote in the context of Oprah APPLYING it to real life conditions; hers and her guests

        2012 It's not about Obama it's about your Moma. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

        by anyname on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 06:59:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  To find peace after trauma (19+ / 0-)

    does not disrespect others who have been abused.  

    I believe forgiving is different than forgetting, but most of us forget things in time.  

    I think we do our best when we support ourselves and those around us, shining our light as we figure out how to bless the world around us regardless of what may be dumped upon us.  Appreciated your introspection and questions.

    'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

    by MsGrin on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:13:45 PM PDT

  •  For me to forgive is to let go (23+ / 0-)

    let go of the pain and the hate and the offender. To hate them means keeping them in mind, remembering them. In that way they continue to hurt us.

    For me, to forgive is to disassociate myself and to become detached from the offenders. I don't recommend this for everyone but it has worked for me.

    ❧ to thine own self be true ❧

    by Agathena on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:15:52 PM PDT

    •  No, its not for everyone. (14+ / 0-)

      And I think it is a process that takes some time. It's not as easy as just shaking hands with somebody who broke a glass at your dinner party.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:21:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I see forgiveness in the same way as you (5+ / 0-)

      but I accept that it is not the common use of the term.

      Many people think if you forgive someone, you wipe the slate clean.  Not in my world.  

      To me, it means feeling pity for those I needed to forgive, and for me to move on with them no longer being of any importance in my life.

      •  I can agree with that formulation and I am there. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Agathena

        THe very word forgiveness has religious connotations that remind me of the 3 ministers who advised me to keep silent, forgive and obey my abusers. So I will NEVER be able to use that word because it smells of consigning a little girl to hell and giving abusers a pss because they possess the power sex organs. Not my belief but what the Baptist (Methodist, Lutheran, Nazarene) churches I attended apparently believed strongly. It is why I no longer give any church the right to try to brainwash me into accepting whatever the group that has power in them to use me as they will.

        Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:27:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  this is what I have found (4+ / 0-)

      When someone hurts me, it is better to move on and forget the hurt. Sometimes that may mean cutting ties.  Other times, it is simply putting some time between interactions in order to let go.

      Hatred is a very self defeating emotion that will eat away at you from the inside out.  I have always said that the best revenge is success.  By that I mean, moving on and not letting anyone else defeat us.

      The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- Our soul is gone.

      by gulfgal98 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:30:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree 100% (0+ / 0-)

      Working with victims of domestic violence, we talked a lot about "forgiveness."  

      Many had a very, very difficult time with that word ... until I would re-define it as "letting go."  

      Too often "forgiveness" is mistaken for "forgive and forget" -- which implies condoning the wrongdoing, pretending it never happened, and so on.  (And many were often pressured to "forgive and forget" -- against their own better judgment and right to be angry.)

      We would define "letting go" as something done more for one's self than for the other person, not carrying the anger forward and letting it poison your own life.  

      We would relate it to safety and boundaries:  You can "forgive" a person, while still keeping huge safety boundaries.  You can forgive and still have nothing to do with the other person for the rest of your life

      •  Yes niemann, I repeated forgave when I was (0+ / 0-)

        young but became wiser in my 40's. After repeatedly forgiving someone in my family, I cut all ties and never regretted doing it. We have to consider our own right to exist especially when people do irreversible harm to us.

        The woman in the diary, Eva was rehabilitated (as much as is possible I'm guessing) and safe from her tormentors and abusers by the time she forgave them. Her story is exceptional. I don't accept the "there but for the grace of God..." theory, that anyone is capable of abject evil towards other human beings or creatures.

        There is another question, the doctors who did what they did, I question why they didn't do the honorable thing and kill themselves. How can they go on with their lives with all that they have done.

        Lot's of questions to think about.

        ❧ to thine own self be true ❧

        by Agathena on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 05:30:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess if they had any honor at all ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Agathena
          There is another question, the doctors who did what they did, I question why they didn't do the honorable thing and kill themselves. How can they go on with their lives with all that they have done.

          ... they wouldn't have done those things in the first place.

          Why should they suddenly develop any honor afterward?

          That is one of the disturbing things in this story:  To be reminded yet again that there are people out there with no honor or integrity -- with no sense of basic human empathy or compassion -- whatsoever.  

          There are literal monsters among us -- unimaginable in their potential evil -- probably many, many more of them than is comfortable to even begin to start to think about.

  •  Beautiful, poignant, painful diary, drew! (18+ / 0-)

    Wow. I'm considering forgiveness in my life as well now. Thanks, man.

    Obama would do well to understand that while democracy depends on intelligent compromise, it also depends on the ill-tempered gripers and groaners out in the street. -- Ta-Nehisi Coates

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:16:33 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, psychodrew. (14+ / 0-)

    forgiveness--to me, sometimes there are things you can't forget, sometimes awful things, but you have to find a way not to carry that around with you. Finding a way to forgive doesn't change what happened, but it can change how heavy that emotional load you're carrying is. I'm always working on it.

  •  Best one yet (12+ / 0-)

    in the series.   Kudos.  

    Ask not for whom the ban hammer swings. It swings for thee.

    by Nada Lemming on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:24:05 PM PDT

  •  This is a searing, (13+ / 0-)

    and relevant diary to every human being.  Thank you, psychodrew, for your thoughts and for making me think.

    Forgiveness is such a difficult thing to get your arms around, and the bigger the travesty, the harder it is. I find I can forgive those who hurt me easier than I can forgive those who hurt those I love. I too am in awe of Eva, can't imagine forgiving what she has forgiven.

    We all suffer the cruelties of our fellow humans at some point, and some, minorities for instance, much more than others, and Eva and those who encountered the worst of the holocaust, well, there are simply no words.

    But for me, I don't think forgiveness ever means forgetting.  I think it's impossible to do so when the hurt is huge. I see forgiveness the way I think Eva sees it, when I can lasso it and put it into action. Hate eats alive the living organism it thrives in, there's no arguing with that.  Eva, you, and all of us DO release ourselves from hate when we forgive---which I see as refusing to give a home to the hate that harmed us to begin with.

    I don't see forgiveness of the likes of hurt Eva suffered, or that you suffered, as the same as liking, understanding, or coming to terms with the fact that the hurter was really an ok guy if you overlook a few things.  I do see forgiveness as the humility to know "there by the grace of God go I,"---whether you believe or not---the idea that somehow, you did not end up a cruel waste of humanity, a dark soul that destroys rather than builds.

    No. In fact it is imperative that we never forget, so that we can fight the evil that in this world is cyclical, ubiquitous and infinite---thanks to the free will clause in humanity.

  •  Yes (11+ / 0-)

    forgiveness really is the first step to healing yourself. Forgiveness is an act of letting it go. You don't forget because it's impossible but once you forgive someone, you can start moving on past the hurtful things.

    It's the policy stupid

    by Ga6thDem on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:33:33 PM PDT

  •  Outstanding diary. Repubished to Anglican Kossacks (13+ / 0-)

    I am so blessed to have inherited from my grandmother the total inability to hold a grudge. I don't know, however, how I might feel had I lived through what this woman and her sister lived through, though.

    Capitalism may be our enemy, but it is also our teacher. --V.I. Lenin equalitymaine.org

    by commonmass on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:39:38 PM PDT

  •  It is fine for people to handle these situations (13+ / 0-)

    as described herein, but it would be wrong and offensive to suggest this sort of conduct is appropriate for everybody, which is often what I think is hiding 'underneath' these sorts of stories.

    Some people make a religion out of this sentiment.

    And some of us aren't really big on tolerating the needless victimization of others.

    I take exception to Oprah's quote: In this case 'getting even' is NOT about "changing the past".

    I don't care about changing the past - I care about preventing or retaliating against somebody who has really victimized me. It's why I have had large dogs and why I studied martial arts. Planning ahead since I know people do these things.

    I don't want to just let people walk over me like the word "WELCOME" is tattooed on my chest. I am pretty certain I don't have to.

    I remember the bullying I got in school: I was never gay, but I did date a non-white girl while living and going to school in an otherwise all white hillbilly-overrun town - the torment I got lead to me studying martial arts and practicing what I learned for 25 years.

    I planned to not take it anymore. I was pretty sure I didn't have to. I took physical steps. And I gotta tell you, as big a nerd as I was, if I was able to do this YOU can too. Seriously.

    Even before I studied, I finally beat the daylights out of one person and like magic, the bullying ended...like the bully's sent out a memo: "Doc fights back now - find some other loser to pick on". That didn't change the past, but it sure changed the future. It was a success.

    Another person attempted to violate me one night in 1991 - and that person got beaten bloody in a parking lot, having attempted to victimize somebody who doesn't have a philosophy rationalizing rolling over and just taking it.

    The is a fine post and the meaning is clearly and concretely expressed but this does not mean that I have to become like this in order to be "as good a person' as those who have been victimized to the Nth degree only to 'turn the other cheek' and let it slide. That these are somehow better people is a clear insinuation of the post.

    Again, this is all commendable and heroic, but it is not a mandate as to how we are all supposed to greet the victimization of others and wear it like a crown.

    Thai Boxing is as much your friend as anything Oprah ever said.

    Oh.. and if anybody thinks I'll ever forgive Bush or Republicans or the Baggers...... you can forget that too.

    You can, but I don't have to.

    Republicans HATE America. Deal with it. / It's the PLUTONOMY, Stupid!

    by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:40:42 PM PDT

    •  No, this certainly isn't for everybody. (8+ / 0-)

      But I would draw a distinction between forgiveness and defending oneself from future threats. I think you can forgive those who've wronged you without setting yourself up to be victimized again.

      I work out somewhat, but I haven't trained myself to defend myself physically. But my attitude is something completely different. I don't hesitate to get into somebody's face. If you bark loud enough, many will fear your bite. And I think that I may have relied upon that a bit too much. My colleagues have told me that I can be quite intimidating.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:49:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True! You can easily (4+ / 0-)

        overdo it with the intimidation thing and you become the aggressor and traumatizer. Or somebody calls your bluff and that really can suck.

        And also true I am a bit more focused on self-defense than the things the Jewish people endured or that the people in Africa are enduring or the collective shit that women or the GBLT community has to deal with. Can't kung-fu a mentality or a nation very readily.

        I am just always concerned that people are too eager to roll over and give up when they don't have to.

        It's as much the psychotherapist in me as the martial artist (or the knucklehead, for that matter).

        Republicans HATE America. Deal with it. / It's the PLUTONOMY, Stupid!

        by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:11:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Different things work for different people. (11+ / 0-)

      I've found it useful in my life to stop, every now and then, and reassess what I felt about my past. I suppose in some cases, I have not forgiven.

      I don't think it is a religious duty. Religion seems to me to be one of the biggest bullies on the planet. Or at least the dogma is.

      For the cases where I've consciously forgiven, it seems to me to be a duty to myself:  Relieving the vessel of some of the anger / acid seems to leave me freer to live my own life, without the forgiven still impacting me in any way.

      Best wishes to you.  Everyone finds their own path and no one can define what you must do to survive.  

      Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

      by YucatanMan on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:54:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So powerful, and heartbreaking. (10+ / 0-)

    I could never forgive those atrocities - but I am thankful for strong people like Eva who can.  The world is a better place for people who can free themselves of the past.

    The holocaust lives in our collective memories, but the nazi regime committed many horrors that aren't as well known.  The meaning of the pink triangle isn't even well known anymore.  

    It's so important not to forget those atrocities, I do believe they serve as a reminder to people that there's a not much of a dividing line between what some term 'necessary' and evil.  Post 9/11, RW forces right here in America found plenty of reasons to justify violating conventions adopted to prevent exactly those sorts of thing happening ever again.

  •  Forgiveness is empowering (8+ / 0-)

    Forgiveness is not primarily for the person who transgressed, it is for the person who was hurt. If you can forgive those who have wronged you then their actions do not have any power over you.

    Forgiveness is also one of the more powerful methods for encouraging change in others. You can't change those who do not want to change, but your forgiveness can encourage others to want change.

    I was mugged in Seattle in 1997, and lost sight in my left eye permanently. I have only love in my heart for those who attacked me. I know that my experience is nothing like what Eva went through, or even what many people go through just growing up in our society, the sorts of continual daily abuse that any person of size, color or different sexuality, and most women have to live with. And I was knocked out with one sucker punch, so I don't really remember anything. Its easier to forgive that which you don't really remember clearly. But I do have this constant reminder, not that lack of sight in one eye is really that crippling. But it is always there.

    And in the end, I think, if you have something permanent to carry away from the encounter, forgiveness is even more important because forgetting is not really an option.

    Feeling vengeful is a sick feeling. I mean that literally, it fells like sickness inside you, when you really look at it, a kind of queasiness, a feeling like a wound is festering. We are social creatures and as such, justice is breed into our genes. Justice denied creates a physical sense of unwellness. But the drive towards justice can always be tempered by mercy. You can relieve the sick feeling inside yourself without enacting vengeance, which carries it's own set of punishments.

    Because one man's justice is another's cause for vengeance and only love and forgiveness can stop hatred and violence. Believing that vengeance can end a cycle of violence and hatred is like believing fire can be doused with gunpowder.

  •  Forgiveness is personal, just like justice is (9+ / 0-)

    One person's justice is not the same as another person's.  If forgiveness is good, healthy and makes sense for you...then it's the path to take.

    I look back to the OJ trial... Were the parents of Ron Goldman or Nicole Simpson wrong to not accept the initial jury verdict?  Should they have simply forgiven?  Or should they, as they did, have pursued their options in the judicial system as it stands to seek something else that felt more like justice to them?

    What is justice?

    That question, for me, has been the fundamental issue of what philosophers refer to as ethics.  I've spent a lifetime trying to answer that question, and am no closer.

    I recognize society...social contracts...the rule of law...and yet some crimes are so personal, so dear, so costly to an individual, that it seems society's concept of justice falls short, for it doesn't answer or redress the individual harm that has been done.  

    I'll never find a satisfactory resolution to that connundrum.

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

    by Keith930 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:53:17 PM PDT

  •  (((((psychodrew))))) eom. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, poligirl, commonmass, RiaD

    "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

    by Marjmar on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:53:25 PM PDT

  •  Forgiveness is tough... (10+ / 0-)

    Many people think forgiveness is solely a religious idea because it was so co-opted by Christianity. But it is a natural human emotion, not derived from religion, even if you find that religion helps you forgive "better". As an athiest I can forgive.

    But one of the hardest things for me personally to forgive, is when a lover 'breaks my heart'. I know, very petty compared to a Nazi doctor victim. But love is one the strongest human emotions and when you give your all to someone and they turn around and shit on it, it really hurts.  And that is always hard for me. At one point I thought I was too "nice" and being a doormat to allow this happen so I hardened my heart up but really that made things worse. I am glad I have moved on from that period in my life.

    I long ago wearied of people who spend all their time digging up old hatreds and polishing them up for fresh use. The past's like a maggot on the heart of the present, it fouls it.

    by pot on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:58:13 PM PDT

  •  I'm happy to see there's a reprint edition (7+ / 0-)

    available, because my ancient, ancient paperback (copyright 1960) is not aging well, but there's a source you might want to consider including in your course alongside this documentary. It's Dr. Miklós Nyiszli, Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account (Arcade 1993; originally Fawcett, 1960), translated by Tibere Kremer and Richard Seaver. Dr. Nyiszli (1901-1956) was a Hungarian Jew who was transported to Auschwitz in June 1944. Because he was trained in pathology, he was recruited to work under Josef Mengele as part of his "research," including performing autopsies on some of the twins Mengele murdered. Through some fortunate circumstances, he escaped the liquidation of the last Sonderkommando and survived the dissolution of the camp. He died of a heart attack after the war.

    It's gruesome in spots, but it's a fascinating read and a riveting eyewitness account of life inside not only the camps, but the crematoria.

  •  It's soooooo nice to get diaries like this on the (7+ / 0-)

    Rec List.

    I hope the boycott lasts several weeks.

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

    by Keith930 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:05:13 PM PDT

    •  It makes me sad that you would say that (0+ / 0-)

      (about the boycott) in a diary that's all about forgiveness. If some of the writers that are taking a time-out or have been forced out have hurt you, I hope you will forgive them in the generous spirit of this diary. And I hope we can all carry a little more generosity in our hearts. I've been really troubled today by the callous comments directed at those who aren't here to defend themselves.

  •  great diary psychodrew (8+ / 0-)


    I am also gender-nonconforming.  I was born with a hormonal intersex condition: I looked mostly - like a girl, but I sounded like a boy, I fought like a boy, and never ever fit in anywhere, except between the pages of a book.  While I only suffered physical bullying a few notable times -  not enough to land me in the hospital, but enough to put me out of school for a few days - and prayed every day to grow up and get away from people who tormented me in places I was forced to be.  It is true, that forgiveness will lead to forgetfulness: the people who tormented me and tormented you are impoverished souls who have no knowledge of the pain they inflict on others through their own ignorance - they know only their tiny worlds.  The only way to be free of that torment and that pain is to let those people go: they have long ago forgotten us and have moved on to tormenting their families and children.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:26:53 PM PDT

    •  I'm getting there, but I'm not there yet. (7+ / 0-)
      The only way to be free of that torment and that pain is to let those people go:

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:33:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, you will (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psychodrew, RiaD, Brown Thrasher

        It's been over 20 years of therapy and rebuilding myself, and confronting some of those who abused me.  And then, walking away from them.

        "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

        by louisev on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:34:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can forgive most wrongs committed by others (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiaD, zett, psychodrew, Brown Thrasher

        I still long for justice, not revenge.  Justice would include accountability by the offenders for their actions, in order to stop the continued wrongs.  Forgiveness is healing and allows myself to move on.  Forgiving myself for my own perceived failures and wrongs is sometimes difficult, which amplifies my chronic anxiety and depression.   I definitely believe forgiveness is good for the soul.  The hate of revenge is ugly.

  •  One of the best diaries (5+ / 0-)

    I have read in a long time.  Thank you for an amazing and uplifting diary.

    The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- Our soul is gone.

    by gulfgal98 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:33:54 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (5+ / 0-)

    I wrote a paper this summer about illegal human testing. If you want to read more on this subject I can recommend several books for much more background.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:44:39 PM PDT

  •  To me, "forgiveness" is tantamount to saying, (5+ / 0-)

    "Oh, gee, honey, what you did to me was okay.  It was a long time ago.  It's all water under the bridge.  No big deal."

    Forgiveness, to me, means letting the perp or creep off the hook.  He can then feel good about himself and persuade himself that the whole incident was of absolutely no account, the victim was not harmed, and he's not to blame.

    I disagree profoundly.  Someone did something awful to me 50 years ago.  I don't care that it was half a century ago.  It was a VERY BIG DEAL.  I'll never forgive that person.  I wish I believed in hell, so he could rot there. I was seriously harmed by it and it took me 35 years to come to terms with it and get over it.

    As it happens, the only thing I could do was write him a very nasty letter.  No swear words, nothing like that:  just words etched in acid, metaphorically speaking.  I hope it gave him a bad night.

    I've moved on.  I spend very little time thinking about this creep until something reminds me of the incident, like this bringing up of forgiveness.

    I think "forgiveness" is something men thought up so women would let them off the hook.  I'm not going in for it myself.  If others want to forgive the Nazis for what they did, that's up to them.  I certainly wouldn't.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:50:51 PM PDT

    •  Forgiveness is not an admission of no harm (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychodrew, CorinaR, musing85

      If there was no harm there would be no need to forgive.
      Forgiveness is an acknowledgement that the thing occurred and an acknowledgement that you are not going to be held down by it. You recognize the damage, the hurt, the deceit, and you let it go. You let that person go.

      And yes, some things will remind you, but then you just let it go again.
      To live.

      Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

      by Burned on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:26:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've read and re-read your comment. (3+ / 0-)

      I've been trying to come up with a reply that does not sound patronizing or condescending. I don't really know what to say but that I'm really sorry for the way that you were treated and I'm glad that you found your own way to get over it..

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:45:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I called my sister and told her I forgave her. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, RiaD, zett, wayoutinthestix

    She robbed me and stole my identity.  Time passed and I began to feel compelled to call her and tell her I forgave her.  I made that call and it is hard to describe the way I felt when we said good-bye.  Although we do not now have a relationship, forgiving her set me free.  Forgiving and forgetting are not the same.  Memories remain for all of us.  How we let them affect us is up to each individual.

    Every day is a good day. Some are just better than others!

    by BabeInTotalControlofHerself on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:54:05 PM PDT

  •  Perhaps not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew

    But retribution has brought justice.

  •  First of all, I'm amazed by Eva. (4+ / 0-)

    Second of all, I agree that she does not speak for the dead or any of the other living after the Holocaust.

    Third of all, here's my view of forgiveness.  I thought of forgiveness as seeing one's wrongdoer(s) as flawed humans, realizing that under the right circumstances you would have done the same things, and just saying to yourself something like, "You must have been hurt really bad in your own life to have done what you did.  I'm going to be sorry that you have to live with being so badly hurt and damaged inside rather than staying mad that you spread some of your hurt to me.  I'm not going to stay mad about what you did to me because you are so damaged you need pity and compassion rather than anger." It is a description I have not managed to carry out or live up to, but that's what I imagine forgiveness to be.  Maybe not those exact words, but something along those lines.  None of that is to say that what someone does to hurt another is ever okay or that it doesn't matter.  Wrong is still wrong.  

    I have people in my life I need to forgive.  I'm terrible about holding a grudge.  I'm thinking to myself that if Eva can forgive what she went through, surely I can find my own way to healing.

    •  Yes, this would be hard to live up to. (6+ / 0-)
      You must have been hurt really bad in your own life to have done what you did.  I'm going to be sorry that you have to live with being so badly hurt and damaged inside rather than staying mad that you spread some of your hurt to me.  I'm not going to stay mad about what you did to me because you are so damaged you need pity and compassion rather than anger.

      I've told myself that a million times, but its hard when those who hurt you also seem to be thriving.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:17:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped. Rec'd. (5+ / 0-)

    Following.  Timely diary.  There is nothing that I can really add to do it justice.  The clip was very powerful.  I can understand the positions of both sisters.

    Yet for me, it takes the courage of heart to let go and live.

    While I can understand those who -- for whatever reasons -- cannot -- I do know that the weight of anguish, and unbelievable grief, anger and bitterness can and goes weigh the soul down.

    People can choose how to live their lives.  But it's sad to think that the survivor who is not for forgiving (I can't say that I can blame her, Mengele was the devil reincarnated on earth as far as I'm concerned) also knows that she can never be happy.

    'Never be happy'.  I'm not sure what kind of quality of life that can be.

    That said, I view forgiveness as a pure healing of the soul -- the utter release of ego that harbors pain and bitterness in favor of elevating to a higher plane.

    Forgiveness does not mean to forget because to forget is to allow history to repeat the same evils for a new generation of humans to try to overcome.

    Great diary.

    "The bottom line is, we've got to wake up. We can't allow our disappointment in Obama to lull us into allowing a truly dangerous strain of conservative philosophy to gain any more traction than it already has." --ObamOcala 4/5/11

    by smoothnmellow on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:02:01 PM PDT

    •  Thanks. (5+ / 0-)

      My heart really went out to the woman who said that she could not forgive. The guilt and the anger that she must be carrying for the death of her family. As somebody wrote earlier, it is far easier to forgive someone who has harmed oneself than it is to forgive someone who has harmed a loved one.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:12:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really appreciate the way you phrased the (4+ / 0-)

    question: "what does forgiveness mean to you" and that you did not offer a definition.

    ❧ to thine own self be true ❧

    by Agathena on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:03:22 PM PDT

    •  The truth is that (9+ / 0-)

      I don't know the answer. And from reading the comments, I'm getting the sense that forgiveness means different things to different people and the definition is informed by our own experiences. That is the beauty of Daily Kos, having the opportunity to share and learn from these different experiences.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:13:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  On a personal level forgiveness is.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, zett

    always the right thing to do.
    For a society to forgive however justice must first be dealt and restored.

    IMHO.

    peace

    Keith

    "Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." Marianne Williamson

    by Canadian Green Card Alien on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:19:49 PM PDT

  •  Gr8 diary. 2 thoughts. (5+ / 0-)

    Imho it is only the aggrieved that can forgive. Eva could do that b/c she was so harmed. No one could do that for her, or in her stead.

    And an odd perspective on the Nazi's and humanity.

    There is a story that during one of the Jewish holidays (a joyous and not a solemn one) several ultra-orthodox were dancing around in the concentration camp. (Probably the holiday was Purim). Anyway, a guard asked how they could dance when they knew they were to be slaughtered.

    They replied that they were joyous that they were one of the oppressed and not the oppressor.

    "Say little; do much." (Pirkei Avot: 1:15)

    by hester on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:35:45 PM PDT

    •  Wow. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hester, musing85, Brown Thrasher
      They replied that they were joyous that they were one of the oppressed and not the oppressor.

      Thank you so much for sharing that story.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:42:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Forgiveness is difficult (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, psychodrew, grover

    but it is the only way.

    In my personal life, I have found that I have to forgive my abusive/neglectful parents and abusive spouse, but I learned that only 10 years ago ... and I am 62.  But what i realized was that as long as I held on to the hurt and the anger, I was still being controlled by them and could not live my own life.  I have forgiven them for not being the people I wanted and needed in my life, and I realize that they were doing what they thought they needed to deal with their own craziness.

    That certainly does not mean that I condone what they did, only that what they did does not control my actions or thoughts or feelings any more.  It does make me want to reach out to others that are hurting and to justice (not vengence or power).  

    The thing about forgiveness is that it makes you re-define what power means.  For me, it called for a new paradigm of power and freedom and healing.  

    For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free. [Shirley Erena Murray (1996)]

    by CorinaR on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:41:05 PM PDT

  •  The problem with not forgiving (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, CorinaR, grover

    1) We never let go of the abuse or the abuser.  So we hug something toxic to our bosom rather than let it go.
    2) We are focused on the past rather than the present.
    3) We give the abuser too much of our power.  We think, if only.... if only.... when we could say "I replace that old abuse with a vision of what I want instead."  And our brains will let us do that if we leap for the dream and move away from the abuse.  And true, this will take some work and effort on our part to do this.
    4) I don't think any of us want to revisit the abuse or the abuser, but if we don't let it go we will always be the victim or the persecutor.  We will always put ourselves on that path rather than forging new ground for ourselves.
    5) We never let either ourselves or the abuser change and move.  And if the abuser is a parent, that means that we are frozen with that vision of the parent as the abuser.  If we can let go, we can let the vision of the parent evolve in our minds which ultimately allows us to evolve.  If the abuser is not a parent, like Mengele, then the need to let them evolve is not so acute, but if we can accept that they are flawed human beings and do not have, for whatever reason, total control of themselves or the circumstances then we can begin to have compassion for that not so perfect human.

    We have a generation of leaders – Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama, Cameron – who don't seem to have the faintest idea of what they're doing. Politics is now nothing more than people saying hopeful things with their fingers crossed... - David Hare

    by glitterscale on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:43:00 PM PDT

  •  Such a diary! Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, wayoutinthestix

    I'm pro-forgiveness (even though it's difficult to do some times). I try because it really is the recognition that we are all human and we all make mistakes that require forgiveness. It's also important to me to ask for foregiveness when I cause pain because of my own human weakness. If anyone chooses not to forgive me, I then can move on, knowing I tried.

    If your family left the church because of how you were treated, it sounds like they were supportive and loving, psychodrew. I'm happy for you that that was the case.
    :=)

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:57:30 PM PDT

    •  Very loving and supportive. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85, wayoutinthestix, highfive

      Only now, as an adult, can I understand the anguish my parents must have felt when I was being bullied and the hurt they experienced when we left and nobody cared.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:00:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Someone did me a horrible wrong... (3+ / 0-)

    ...and I hate that person.  I have for 10 years and I always will.  But I don't dwell on it, I'm not out for revenge and I'm very happy.

    So I don't understand what forgiveness would even mean there,

    Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" was one of the last great melodies in music history before all possible good melodies apparently got exhausted in the late 80s.

    by dov12348 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:07:25 PM PDT

    •  It means different things to different people. (0+ / 0-)

      And a solution that works for Eva might not necessarily work for everybody else.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:02:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Powerful, beautiful diary. (17+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    I found the capacity to forgive at the 7-11, and, perhaps, if others were to look with clear eyes, they'd find it there too.

    My father was murdered in a holdup at age 53; I was 24.  I'd been away from home since 18 - college and a stint in the Army.

    Dad was robbed of his life. I was robbed of the chance to say, "Look at the man you and mom raised. You did good."

    As Dad lay dying on that cold, dirty parking lot, he remained conscious long enough to describe the young punk who stole his money, then, as if in afterthought, put a bullet through his liver.

    For the next two months I burned with a rage that endangered me and any who dared to look at me crosswise. Every single day my father was being murdered anew, and every single day I saw his killer. His killer was every young man that looked anything like the punk my father described to the cops.

    And then, one day I was at a 7-11 to buy some smokes. As I waited in line a young boy of maybe four years old reached out to the brightly colored display of candy bars. His mother whipped around and slapped him hard across the face, screaming, "I TOLD you not to touch anything! What the HELL is wrong with you?"

    I ran from that store, fell to the parking lot, cold and dirty like the one where Dad breathed his last, and wracked with sobs I found forgiveness - forgiveness for the punk who shot my dad. Forgiveness for the man that four year old boy was destined to become.

    I'm crying now as I write this. Thank you, psychodrew, for this gift you've given me today - the opportunity to revisit that transformative life event and to reexperience that rage, that despair and that joy.

    I reject the intellectually bankrupt (but ever popular) meme that primary challenges, rather than the failed governance that gave RISE to those challenges, were responsible for the ruling party's subsequent defeat.

    by WisePiper on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:13:57 PM PDT

  •  Pain and the inflictor are separate for me, too. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catly, psychodrew, Cassandra Waites

    While I might attribute the cause of pain to others' insensitivity or abusive behavior, I take ownership of my feelings, which eliminates ongoing resentment. Getting hurt is part of life. I think it's all around best to treat the pain and rise above who did it and why....most often referred to as letting go. To me, that is different than forgiving. It is moving on.

  •  Thank you for a fabulous contribution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew

    I am grateful to you

    Intelligent, passionate, perceptive people will always disagree, but we should not let that disagreement, however heartfelt, lead us to become deaf to those better angels of our nature.

    by Mindful Nature on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:19:34 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for reading! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dsb

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:59:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Before forgiveness there must be contrition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, Cassandra Waites

    At least for me.  We talk about forgiveness a lot in our society .  From pop psychology to religious figures - there is a heavy emphasis on forgiveness.  But seldom do you hear about the need for contrition from the person who did the offense.

    In the Catholic church - to receive absolution (forgiveness) for sins, you must make a contrition.

    For those who choose forgiveness without contrition, that is their choice.  And if it works for them - that's great.

    But I suspect that there are others, like me, who require the offender to admit their offense and show true sorrow and contrition for it.  Then forgiveness can come.

    •  NPR did a very interesting story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85

      on restorative justice this summer. The idea is that offenders apologize to their victims in an attempt for some reconciliation, and that apology is taken into account during sentencing. It is a fascinating story of how our criminal justice system can incorporate an apology and forgiveness into the system.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:59:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I missed it if anyone else mentioned (3+ / 0-)

    that this is a particularly relevant diary now, during the month of Elul in the Hebrew calendar that leads up to the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

    Asking and granting forgiveness is at the core of spiritual practice this time of year. Litanies of repentance are recited over and over but even more important, it's the time to apologize to those we've wronged and to forgive those who've wronged us. We're taught that if we apologize and the person remains hard-hearted and unforgiving, we have to apologize twice more. After three times we are considered to have sincerely repented and the person who will not accept a sincere apology after three tries is now considered to be a grudge-holder. Hlding a grudge is not only proscribed in the Torah but, as some people've described above, can be psychologically crippling.  

    Though fairly atheistic in outlook, I find these annual rituals to be very compelling and yet so very difficult. I always struggle with the forgiveness part but I keep trying. Thanks for this diary; it helps.

  •  Forgiveness is something (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, dsb, Cassandra Waites, grover

    you do for yourself, not for the other person. It is letting go of the outrage so that you can get on with your own life instead of wasting your time and energy constantly thinking about the person(s) who wronged you.

    Put more succinctly, "Holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and expecting someone else to die."  (Buddha, I think.)

    This does not mean giving the other person a pass. Several years ago, someone grievously wronged me psychologically, financially, and socially. It took a long time, but I was finally able to let go of my fury and no longer live every day tinged with thoughts about how to get back at my tormentor.  

    Six years after the original incident, and having had no other direct contact, I received a rather creepy email from my tormentor.   I immediately contacted my attorney and had him send the tormentor a cease and desist letter saying that any and all further attempts to communicate with me directly will be regarded as harassment and met with legal means.  

    Rather than flying into a panic or a rage, I simply did what I regarded as necessary to protect myself. If it ever becomes necessary, I will take that next step, but in the meantime I only think about it when these kinds of conversations come up.

    •  Love that quote! (3+ / 0-)
      Holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and expecting someone else to die.

      ‎"If they know you will wait, they will make you wait. If they know you will compromise, they will make you compromise. If they know you have lowered expectations, they will offer you as little as possible. Demand EQUALITY now." ~ GetEQUAL

      by psychodrew on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:07:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps also Buddha (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Idgie Threadgoode, psychodrew

        I no longer remember the origin but I had a slip of paper taped to my bathroom mirror for many years with these words:
        "Hate is like a poison that harms the vessel in which it is stored far more than the object upon which it is poured".  I read those words every day for years - such a simple little assembly of words - but they were profoundly helpful to me.

  •  No. This is where I break with the Buddhists (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, Idgie Threadgoode

    And I respect Thich Nhat Hahn more than most. But down here where I live, we don't buy it. We don't sign on to "what goes around, comes around". We're not down with the myth of a Supreme Being dishing out justice if we just pray and submit and act nice. We don't rely on anything or anyone but ourselves.
    You can take this to the bank: You bring pain to one of our own, be they a human or animal member of our family, we're all going hunting.

    Neoconservatives are neither new nor conservative, but old as Bablyon and evil as Hell --- Edward Abbey

    by skunkbaby on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:00:09 PM PDT

    •  "What goes around comes around" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychodrew

      is not at all the point that I was trying to make. In the example I used, if the person who wronged me tried to contact me again, they will be met with the full force of the law, and Michigan's stalking law has sharper teeth than most.

      However...I am not consumed daily with thoughts of what form that legal action will take or the consequences it will have on my tormentor. I let go of that outrage because it was doing me far more harm than it was doing my tormentor.  That is how I define forgiveness. I have not forgotten, nor will I allow that person back into my life in any close capacity, but day-to-day I simply have no interest in what that person is currently doing, and don't waste time on revenge plots.

      •  My reply was to the diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psychodrew

        Not to your post. You're doing what you can (and have) to do regarding your particular circumstances. I don't judge you nor do I judge the diarist; in fact, I admire the points of view that you both provide. I find in this diary and in your eloquent description concerning your own circumstances much to admire.  

        Having said that, I can't count on "the law" to do shit for me. I believe in being kind, being courteous, and ignoring assholes and petty insults. But if someone crosses that line and actually harms a member of my tribe (or "crew" or "family" or "people"--call it what you will) we together will bring a world of hurt to the offenders doorstep so fast and so hard they won't even have time to scream. That's how MY life and MY reality works.
        Good luck with yours.        

        Neoconservatives are neither new nor conservative, but old as Bablyon and evil as Hell --- Edward Abbey

        by skunkbaby on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 11:31:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I loved this diary for the questions . . . (4+ / 0-)

    . . . it asked, and not (as I had feared) for a lesson it wanted to tell.

    I am (at most) a lapsed Buddhist.  I want oh so very hard not to wish to exact vengence, but to be better than that.  But in my heart of hearts, I know that I am not.

    There is a man on death row in Texas who in the wake of the 9/11 attacks is guilty of shooting a bunch of people that he thought were middle-eastern.  His last victim was a man from Bangladesh, who survived.  His face is severely and irreparably damaged, and he is blind in one eye, and he is a Muslim; and he has dedicated himself to trying to prevent his assailant's execution because "it is what my religion tells me to do."

    When I heard about that story I looked it up on the internet and I found the web site the murderer has up.  He is begging the rest of us for clemency and he is trying to justify the murderous acts he committed by explaining that he lost his sister in the attacks and "I just love my country too much."

    I'm sorry . . . I truly am.  I really wish I could be a better person.  But this guy, this idiotic, violent, racist prick killed a bunch of people and he still wants our sympathy because "9/11 made me do it"?

    I try to be a good Buddhist, and I am not a big fan of the death penalty.  But I won't lose sleep over his death.  At all.  

    I'd never lobby for this man to be put to death.  I have nothing but the most profound respect for his victim, who is trying to save him.  I wish I could be a man as good as that guy.  But I can't and . . .because I can't, because I know I would never forsake my revenge . . .

    I'm glad that it isn't people like me who get to make the laws.  This is why, of course, we have a society of laws:  because the dispassionate wisdom of man should be reflected in justness and not in vengence.

    Politics is the never-ending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

    by swellsman on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:02:44 PM PDT

    •  That guy was executed btw... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      swellsman, psychodrew

      I long ago wearied of people who spend all their time digging up old hatreds and polishing them up for fresh use. The past's like a maggot on the heart of the present, it fouls it.

      by pot on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:23:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I knew it was coming up . . . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pot, Idgie Threadgoode, psychodrew

        . . . because, like I said, I had looked into this guy earlier.  I thought it was happening soon, but I didn't know when.

        Huh.  Tell you the truth . . . now I feel kind of like a prick myself, now he's dead.

        Dammit.

        Politics is the never-ending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

        by swellsman on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:30:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nah I wasn't passing judgement or anything (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          swellsman, psychodrew

          But I ended up searching for what happened a few weeks ago and saw he was executed.

          I long ago wearied of people who spend all their time digging up old hatreds and polishing them up for fresh use. The past's like a maggot on the heart of the present, it fouls it.

          by pot on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 10:13:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I appreciate that . . . (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pot, psychodrew

            . . . and I didn't think you were passing judgment, but just passing on some information.  

            Still, "dammit" was my first reaction.  Once people -- even total pricks -- are gone, it is easy to imagine that they could have been better than they really were.  And that you could have been better to them.  'Course, that's all imagination.  When confronted with the inescapable fact of Death, Imagination ranks pretty high.

            I'm not trying to be a widdling jerk and -- like I said -- I won't lose sleep over his passing, but if you don't know a guy is already dead and you are caught saying you don't care if he dies and then someone tells  you he's dead . . . I think outta just simple self-respect you've gotta feel just a little bad about that.

            Not much.  Just a little.

            Politics is the never-ending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

            by swellsman on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 10:42:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  There's a reason it's called "practice." (4+ / 0-)

          We're Buddh*ists*, not Buddh*a*.  :)

  •  To me forgiveness in my case is to let them get (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dsb, psychodrew

    away with it and keeping silent so others can pretend that my parents were wonderful human beings. TO me forgiveness means letting it go to where it is like it never happened which to me is a pass  to others to continue to pass the hot potato of pain down the generations. To me I am happy to swallow the pain and face those who JUDGE ME as damaged and vengeful with a strong heart that will not let it go down the generations through me. IT ENDS with me not repeating thier selfish evils and with my speaking out unashamed of being used by those charged with my  care. It does not end with me letting them die with a halo. I do not want vengeance I want to sever any part of them that may have taken root in me. So I will not aid them or thier supporters and defenders by passing on any pain... But I will never give them a pass. I learned recently that they had died and felt nothing.  It didn't matter because they failed to stop the pain with themselves and chose to pass it on to me and my siblings. My siblings who maintained contact with them and relationships with them have all passed the pain down a generation in thier willingness to "let it be as before" so now thier children suffer. Stupidly I was still trying to get and receive what I needed and wanted from the when I was raising my son so he was harmed by them too. That is my fault and I hope to help him find his strong and decent heart before he passes the infection down.  He is slowly coming around.

    Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:13:13 PM PDT

  •  Forgive, maybe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, wayoutinthestix

    But never forget, else you may not be there for someone who needs you

  •  A good reminder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, wayoutinthestix

    I have a lot of anger, and it hurts me terribly.

    Anger mainly harms the bearer.

    To be mindful of that fact and consistently try not to validate the anger would be a healthy endeavor.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 10:46:03 PM PDT

  •  Anger is a good servant and a bad master. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, wayoutinthestix

    I have people in my life I have not forgiven. Yet. It is a work in progress. I am aware I may not complete it. But I have to do it at the pace I have to do it, and that's just all.

    My gods don't tell me I have to make it happen today; I just have to keep working on it.

    Part of my issues involve how to keep from being harmed again. Crazy is a bad idea to be in relationship with, but sometimes you have no choice. As I decide how to set my boundaries, I heal some of the wounds of the child who was not able to set them, and then I can see the woundedness of my abusers, and forgive them.

    But I still am not going to trust them.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 11:21:53 PM PDT

  •  For (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, wayoutinthestix

    a lot of people, forgiveness is a tool they use, in order to continue their abuses.

    There are things that have happened to me that I probably won't ever get over, or feel better about,that will always hurt, but it has nothing to do with forgiveness.

    I can forgive all I want, but I still associate those people with that pain, and those abuses.

    I don't feel like there's anything wrong with not wanting to see someone again, but wish them well, because you know that if they are in your life, the hurt and abuse will continue.

    •  This (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychodrew, wayoutinthestix

      was a very interesting topic, on the heels of 9/11.

      I was thinking yesterday, mainly that outside the obvious, the enduring theme for me, was that everything doesn't always neatly end.  Sometimes, there won't be closure; and perhaps most distressing to me as a person interested in math, every problem doesn't have a solution.
      A repeating decimal of fug.

      Sometimes, you really do have to move on, even if it seems like giving up at first.
      "We will never forget" hasn't healed a single person, either, it's led us to a permanent state of war.

      If September 10 were the day we held onto so fastidiously, before there was a demon under every doily, peace would perhaps be more possible.

      Not letting go, but moving on to where things can be better.

  •  Absolutely lovely diary and full of hope. I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew

    think you might enjoy watching the documentary Blind Spot.

    "A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back - but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you."--Marian Wright Edelman

    by TheSolipsisticMe on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 07:05:16 AM PDT

  •  I learned to forgive once I was told by a wise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew

    person:

    Hating someone, refusing to forgive means you're letting them live in your brain rent free.

    I learned to create and maintain strong boundaries.  I kicked out those freeloading tenants in my brain.  

    And I've learned that forgiveness is a gift I've given myself. I see a lot of angry people around me, and I know that life is too short. However many days I have left -- if I get hit by a truck tomorrow -- I don't want to spend my life being angry.

    I use the word "perspective" a lot in talking about both the big stuff and the day-to-day stuff in life because I think that it's critical to keep what I want in perspective. I have only so many days here on earth. I refuse to let even one more second be ruined by past events.  

    © grover


    "Overflow zone. So much thinking going on." -- Meteor Blades, August 2, 2004.

    by grover on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 12:03:27 PM PDT

  •  Getting even is the essence of justice. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, i like bbq

    Forgiveness comes after justice.

  •  Provocative post, thanks PSD. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew

    Foregiveness for me was letting go of the anger and the hatred I carried for years after surviving incest and sadism.

    I had to work at it, therapy, prayer all of that.  But when that person re-entered my life for a brief time, and as we sat in the same room and talked with my dad, there came a moment, as crazy as it sounds, where I felt a physical lifting take place.  It's as if someone or something removed a heavy suit of toxic materials. The feeling directly after that moment was that I was about 10 #'s lighter and airier.  And I realized right then that that's what foregivenes feels like.  The joy and elation that followed was so worth all that painful hard work that forgiveness took for me.

    I highly recommend it to everyone.  It feels sublime.

    When everybody talkin' all at once no one can hear the wise one speak, So just be still and silence will provide the wisdom that you seek - by Tori del Allen

    by Dumas EagerSeton on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 02:11:01 PM PDT

  •  IMHO, "forgiveness" is a guilt trip (0+ / 0-)

    used by the powerful to manipulate the powerless into not pursuing justice. From a survivor of sexual abuse:

    Whenever I hear someone tell me some shit like that, all I hear is “I am uncomfortable with all of this, and if you forgive your perpetrator, then you will be done talking about it and I don’t have to hear it anymore.” They no more have my interests at heart than the perps did.
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