Second Chances: A Fine Line Between Forgiveness and Stupidity?
“To err is human; to forgive divine.” I’ve heard people credit Shakespeare with that quote, but it was coined by English satirical poet Alexander Pope (May 21, 1688 – May 30, 1744). It’s from his 1711 poem An Essay on Criticism. Interestingly, that same poem also gave us “A little learning is a dang’rous thing,” and “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” both of which also relate to my subject here.
We all like to be granted second chances, and we all promise to make the most of them. Some of us do make good on our promises; others do not.
So, how do you, as the potential granter of a second chance determine which erring humans are deserving of our little divine boons? How do you navigate the line between “a little learning” shutting down any possibilities and rushing in like a fool? Nietzsche said (in so many words) that people tend more to ask for forgiveness than to give forgiveness to their offenders. Some students of human behavior credit that with a need to control, but, I think it’s more a self-protection instinct. I trusted Person X before, and they hurt me. I can’t give Person X the opportunity to do that again.
A friend of mine was married for the majority of their life when they found out their spouse was cheating. After some time apart, the spouse came begging for forgiveness, said they’d never cheat again, agreed to go to marriage counseling, the whole nine yards. This was a person, a good person, my friend had known all their life. So, my friend agreed to take back their cheating spouse. Six months later, they caught their spouse still cheating with the same person. My friend, of course, was shattered, but worse than the hurt was their feeling that they’d been stupid. The spouse was the one that behaved badly, but my friend was the one feeling ashamed because they’d let the cheater back in.
My friend was not foolish, and their act of forgiveness was nothing of which to be ashamed. I admire them for what they did. Now, when the spouse comes up in conversation, I roll my eyes. Never would I have thought that would be the case – I had always seen them as admirable – not someone who could behave so hurtfully. But the fact of the matter is that people do change, and sometimes they do not change for the better.
What if the offender doesn’t apologize? Whether it’s through their narcissist belief that they have a right to do whatever they want and that they alone can dictate what can be considered offensive, or because they were “just telling the truth” (as they alone see it), they just don’t or won’t apologize? Can forgiveness be granted if the offender is not repentant? What if the offender makes insincere apologies, such as those followed by “but” – “but I was justified in doing it because…” or “but it’s YOUR fault because you…”? Should forgiveness be granted then, or are you just stupidly enabling their future bad behavior?
It’s difficult sometimes when it’s your loved one granting the second chance. You want the best for them; you want them to make good decisions and to be happy.
Another friend is beside themselves because their loved one is granting a cheating partner a second chance. My friend insists that this person is a serial cheater and is just a bad person, in general. Is my friend right? They certainly think they are and cannot stop themselves from harping on the subject. To everyone. At every opportunity.
So where is that magical boundary between forgiveness and stupidity? Is it clearly marked with flashing warning signs? Will I know it when I see it?
I think that every circumstance is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to any of the situations where you hold someone else’s second chance in your hands. You pays your money, you takes you chances. So, rush on in fool with your little bit of learning.
But there is a universal truth in regard to your loved one’s second chance decisions: you cannot make that decision for them. You can’t force them to see things from your perspective. I think that as a friend/loved one, you absolutely have a responsibility to give your counsel. But, after you’ve had your say, shut the fuck up unless asked.
These are the kinds of things I think about on rainy weekends.
In other news:
I have two more short stories that will be published soon! More on those when they come out.
There were rumors that our boy Elon and Twitter may have been having settlement discussions ahead of the trial slated to start later this month. Said rumors appear to have been nothing more than farts in the wind given that Elon announced he was reinstating his purchase offer. Twitter appears poised to accept it.
Analysts on these kinds of litigation say that the jockeying
going on between lawyers on both sides over what information could be subpoenaed seemed to be going more Twitter’s way. Given that, the inevitability of the outcome may be what turned Elon around again. Then there’s the fact that Twitter’s stock price has recently come out of the basement, and at the time of Elon’s announcement was trading at about $52 per share. Money talks; bullshit walks.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This may just be a stalling tactic. The court has declared Elon has until October 28 to complete the deal. If that deadline is missed, the trial will move forward next month.
Meanwhile, the fallout is still occurring from Elon’s decision to weigh in via Twitter on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He pissed off a whole nation with that move. Our boy’s always about making friends and influencing people…
Winter is coming. Have I mentioned that I hate winter?
Book Review: I Should’ve Worn a Curtain by Samyra Alexander
Had I read this novella’s description or reviews on Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have read the story — not because the description or the reviews were poor, but because I wouldn’t have thought the subject matter something I’d find interesting.
Thank goodness I just went with the intrigue of the title because I would’ve missed out on a great read!
Shaena has an eating disorder, a disorder she tries to hide from everyone, even from herself. The reasons for her food issues and her denial of them are rooted in her childhood. They begin to emerge as the story unfolds, but Shaena still resists coming clean with her loved ones regarding her struggle. This resistance results in her lying to everyone to hide her binging. It’s the lying that destroys her relationship with Mike, her quasi-boyfriend. But, following that break-up, at the end of the story, Shaena finally admits to Ava (her sponsor from Overeaters Anonymous) her binging and bulimia, her guilt over those issues, and her remorse for being untruthful. The story ends with Shaena on the cusp of healing (admitting you have a problem is the first step).
The particulars of the story are about having an eating disorder, but the theme of the story is truly about how we cope with the stressors in our lives and how to seek help to better deal with them.
Ms. Alexander is a wordsmith. By that, I don’t mean she uses big words or flowery language. Her language is simple and flows wonderfully – her story emerges cleanly without the words themselves detracting from it.
I’ll admit I was a little dissatisfied with the ending – I wanted to know more about Shaena’s relationship with her mother and if Mike truly did just walk away. But, I was ready to accept that the point of the novella was that Shaena got to the watershed moment that would allow her to heal.
Then I saw there was a sequel, Curtain 2, and I immediately stuck it in my Kindle list!
Short Story: A Sweaty Man’s Gym Sock
I remember when first we met. Your appreciation for me shone in your eyes, and in your presence, I felt free, released from all that confined me, able to relax, stretch out, just be me.
Those early days were a whirlwind. I experienced so much I otherwise would not have; It was life-changing. I was grateful to have you in my life and wore myself ragged supporting you, bolstering you, sopping up the emotional baggage that sometimes spewed from you with the force of a waterfall.
Things changed. Suddenly, your light no longer shone on me. For days, weeks at a time, I was in the darkness, drenched from the last waterfall, alone and feeling unworthy, unclean, while you gave your light to others and excluded me.
Without warning, like the roof had been ripped off, your light shone again, and I unwound myself from the miserable ball I’d cowered into, tentatively straightening in your light, and then I was bright, and I smelled like the air after a fresh rain. But, although the light was there, its purpose was now to expose my inadequacies and highlight the ways in which I was imperfect, aged, worn.
Then, I was taking the pounding of your emotions, again absorbing it all, doing my best to support you as I felt myself beaten down and drenched.
And, of course, the darkness came again, and parts of me withered and molded.
The cycles came faster and faster, and with each ride on your emotional rollercoaster, I was less and less bright, became dingy and threadbare, threatening to fall apart. Your light could no longer make me feel free. It just made me dread the darkness. Still, I supported you. Still, I sopped up your emotional garbage.
But there was a spot within me, a spot that refused to be completely sullied and pummelled by your manipulative workout.
That indomitable core pulled me out of the trash heap on which you eventually tossed me, as uncaring as you’d truly been all along. That tiny spot of internal sunshine scrubbed me clean, refreshed me. Over time, I became free, truly free, and able to turn a bright face again to the world, feeling a little worn for your use, but worthy and able to live life without considering what you would think.
Now, you see me refreshed, so you try to shine your false light on me. Oh no, I know that your light offers only darkness. I will never again let you, or anyone, treat me like a sweaty man’s gym sock.
4 thoughts on “Second Chances: A Fine Line Between Forgiveness and Stupidity?, Book Review – I Should’ve Worn a Curtain, Short Story – A Sweaty Man’s Gym Sock”
That’s a terrific quote from Twain about forgiveness. Forgiveness…what a big topic. All I know is that if you don’t forgive, you hurt yourself.
Hi, David. I don’t disagree with you, in general, on forgiveness, but second chances…I think a little bit of discernment is needed, And, yeah, it’s a big topic. There were just some things on my mind. Thank you very much for reading!
Forgiveness is for you, not the other person. It lifts a burden off you & allows you freedom and liberation. Just because you forgive doesn’t necessarily mean you condone their behavior. You deal with it accordingly but this way you’re not left carrying residue from the ordeal.
I apologize for not replying before now. I don’t disagree with you, in general. However, I do think that when granting someone a second chance — particularly in committed relationships — you need to weigh everything carefully.
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