Who has let you down in the past month?
Maybe it was a friend who bailed on the concert at the last minute. Or a coworker who didn’t meet your project deadline. Perhaps a public figure who accidentally said something offensive during a press conference.
Or maybe the barista at the coffee shop put the wrong kind of milk in your drink.
The list goes on and on. There are as many moments of disappointment as there are people to cause them.
But despite our imperfect nature as a species, one of the great privileges of being human is, we can forgive each other. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. And as a result, we can give ourselves the gift of letting go.
Joaquin Phoenix, when accepting his award for best actor, made an inspiring speech about forgiveness. Thanking the audience for giving him a second chance in his acting career, he said this.
That’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.
Who have you let down in the past month? How did it feel when they forgave you?
I imagine that was much better than losing your entire career over some stupid, small mistake, right?
Sadly, this kind of thing happens to people on a daily basis. Our culture’s inability to let go of a hope for a different, better or fairer past results in lives being completely destroyed.
And the irony is, the collateral damage sprays out and scars us too. We think using public forums to take somebody down for their reprehensible but understandable mistake elevates us, but it actually does the opposite. It drags us down into hell right next to them.
Chapelle ranted about this phenomenon his award winning standup concert:
If someone does anything wrong in our life, and we find out about it, we’re going try and take everything away from that person. And we don’t care when we find out, it could be today, tomorrow, fifteen, twenty years from now. But if we find out, they’re fucking finished.
Indeed, that’s the current state of our culture’s ability to forgive. We have forgotten how to be bigger than the problem. And in a world where there are as many moments of disappointment as there are people to cause them, this is not a positive trend.
My philosophy is, schools should teach forgiveness. Right up there with reading, writing and arithmetic, teach kids how to let go.
Give them the skills to look each other in the eye and say, what you did was wrong, and it hurt my feelings. But I forgive you, because you’re human, just like me. And we’re all in this together.
Talk about a subject worth studying.
And that’s the best part about forgiving. It sets our mind free to move on to more important things.
Like actually enjoying life.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Whom are you still refusing to forgive?