The Universe Where Forgiveness Lives   2 comments

Forgiveness Part I: Framework

world puzzleForgiveness is a small portion of how I respond to others when I am hurt, and this in turn is a small part of the much bigger framework of human relationships.  To understand any piece of this jigsaw puzzle requires me to know its connection to the other pieces and to have a general grasp of the whole.  So let’s peek at the box top.

This is a profoundly social cosmos. A profoundly conversational cosmos. In a social cosmos, a talking cosmos, a muttering, whispering, singing, wooing, and order-shouting cosmos, relationships count. Things can’t exist without each other. And the ways things relate to each other can make them radically different from their fellow things.  –Howard Bloom, The God Problem

Everything from the dance of electrons and protons to the gravitational pull of the Milky Way finds its place in the universe by its connection to other things.  As part of this social cosmos, we humans are profoundly shaped by our relationships–our families and communities and cultures.  We largely understand ourselves and our place in this world based on the input we get from others.  This is both wonderful and awful, for our greatest joys come from love and belonging but our worst wounds come from separation and rejection.

broken love

We don’t really have much choice about this fundamental social reality.  We can’t invent our own language and still hope for connection.  We speak our mother’s tongue or stay mute.  In the same way, our thoughts and actions are channeled by the perspectives of our families and cultures.  Our whole world is organized and explained to us from one specific vantage point so that even to argue with it, we have to speak from that context.  We can’t disagree with our English-speaking mom in Hindi. We are inextricably tied to our relational ecosystem.  We may be able to switch contexts, but we always have a context, and we always crate our past along with us (ask any married couple).

webLife is a web of relationships, and so to discover who I am in distinction from others, I must understand them and how I relate to them.  I soon realize that although there are individual strands in this system, they’re all interconnected.  When I put my hand on any one relational dynamic all the rest vibrate.  Anger is connected to shame and fear, shame impacts perspective and motivation, motivation informs decisions, focus, resources, and a hundred other elements.  It is not only that I am connected to my brother, but that I am tied to him in a thousand complex ways.  Each interaction sets the web twitching, and before I respond, it is best to understand myself and my brother and the relational dynamics between us.  I should not have a default response, not even forgiveness.  Trying to fix every problem with forgiveness is like repairing a house with just a saw.


2 responses to “The Universe Where Forgiveness Lives

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  1. this is really beautiful. You didn’t end with “to be continued” but like a film that ends with a shot of the presumed dead hero or villain walking down a street, it kind of implies a “part two”? I’ll be waiting to see what comes next. And your assertions that you are not creative are so misguided. This is truly exquisitely beautiful thinking and expression of those thoughts.

    • Mardi, thank you for your very kind words (you realize, of course, that you are biased!). As you know, my mind works like yours, so there are already many parts to this series, not just two. But it will take time for me to get them out of their bathrobes and make them presentable.

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