Christmas comes at the end of the year, just a short week before the New Year. Christmas is a celebration of Christ who preached laundering away our sins by trading repentance for absolute discharge into the community of the pure. “Repentance” includes forgiving those who have done us wrong and begging forgiveness from whom we wronged, (if any, ever!). The system is a tad onerous, because soul and mind searching is like negotiating a large labyrinth, often veering into events one would rather forget. It can be arduous, almost as much as doing a tax return or filling a Stats Can long form (Lord forbid).
Christ preached unconditional forgiveness for all “sins” which may be very nice to receive but very hard to give and certainly difficult to learn how to do it. Another challenge is the interpretation of his silence on the treatment of repeater offenders, who are much like black flies, highly irritating and hard to cope with.
Socrates addressed the issue of repeated sinning and encapsulated his conclusion into “to do wrong twice, is unbecoming wise men”. In his times, being stupid was an unflattering characterization. But that was then. Now some governments do their best to stupidify us.
In real life a time comes that magnanimity becomes redundant and an unwritten statute of limitations cuts in to relieve reformed offenders.
Where do you draw the demarcation line between what to forgive and forget and what you can neither forget nor forgive? How is one to discern what to toss at year end what to lug accross the year divide into the New Year? Hard to tell, but Socrates suggests we use our heads.
The demarcation line for this is fluid and changes with time and circumstance. Thinking out such stuff is tiresome and I give up on thinking to jump onto the bandwagon of folk wisdom to grab the “forgive but not forget” solution. Somehow, in my mind this connects with an old CBC “instruction booklet” to journalists which recommends remaining flexible lest we become rigid.
Some people, irrespective of age, “do not learn new tricks”. Most difficult to cope with are those with firmly rooted induced traits, as distinct from the “innate” traits. I said “induced” instead of “acquired” for the sake of being realistic. Bertrand Russell encapsulated it well: “The damage done to the young by the education system is enormous”, said he. The “educational system” besides schooling includes family, religion, prevailing “conventional wisdom” and sometimes the dicta of dictators, diseminated by PRopaganda “manchines”. The “damage” done to us by the “system” burning itself into our young brains is formidable and results in slowing substantively the advance of civilization. This because some of us fail to move beyond our education to become “free”, this resulting in loss of enjoyment personally and starving society of the manna emanating from free minds. We are all the worse for that.
On a funny note, Christ’s suggestion to “turn the other cheek” pushes matters too far, as it discriminates against non-machohists and favours hard core bullies. Our ultra modern Human Right Commission may in its immense wisdom have something to say about that!
Ok, enough said I guess. I will forgive whoever and whatever I can and pray for cause to forgive the rest, so that I travel light on the road to the future,
In Christmas past, I have written cheerful pieces, heralding the holiday season. And to remind us of the joy to be had from reading “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” and listening to Allan Maitland reading “The Shepherd” on Christmas Eve. I will indulge in them again, with no less zest than I had in the past.
But I felt the need to write about Magnanimity this year. I had to do it because I see our society sliding down the slippery from the plateau of Magnanimity down to Intolerance. If you find this confusing, it is because the oppression is partial and localized and become drowned by the roar of dissent . But Freedom cannot be partial for the reason that achin does not hold after the break of its weaker link.
Take a moment to read the Martin Niemöller poem “They first came for ...” And then, well, think a bit ...