Rebirth of Reason

The Good Life

by Joseph Rowlands

"It is against the sin of forgiveness that I wanted to warn you." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

The term "forgiveness" is a modern package-deal. The word refers to a number of different ideas, all of them interchanged as desired by those that promote it as a moral ideal. The ultimate goal of that promotion is to allow them to escape the consequences of their actions. By raising forgiveness to the status of a virtue, they seek to destroy justice.

So what are the different ideas that are tied together? The first is the idea of getting over one's anger towards the person who acted immorally. This is one of the positive sides of the package-deal, which is promoted as a reason for forgiveness. The idea is that you shouldn't live your life full of hatred. Even if you have reason to despise someone, you can't let the anger consume you. In this sense, the term is about getting on with your life. It doesn't call for you to treat the perpetrator any different than otherwise.

The second idea thrown into the pot is the need to recognize new facts about the situation. When, for instance, the person has genuinely changed, you shouldn't hold their previous acts against them. The example I like to think of is when a child, after watching a karate movie, comes up and kicks you. To hold it against him 10 years later, after he's matured and changed completely, is ridiculous. This idea is actually justice. It is recognizing the truth about people, and treating them accordingly.

The third element, and the part I consider the true essence of forgiveness, is the idea that you should ignore someone's moral faults or misdeeds. It is the call to suspend your judgment, and to pretend that the world is not what it is. This isn't when you believe the person has changed and wouldn't do an act again. This is when you believe the person is not only capable of doing it, but likely to do it, and you look the other way anyway.

Here's an example. A guy and a girl are dating. The guy dumps the girl to go have a fling with some random chick, who eventually dumps him. He goes back to the first girl. She has every reason to believe he'd do it again, and is only coming back because of lack of other opportunities. Should she forgive? The promoters of forgiveness would say yes. I say no. To forgive, using this meaning, is to deny the facts of reality. It's pretending that facts aren't really facts, and the consequences that follow from those facts won't actually happen. But since reality is objective, ignoring facts don't make them go away. You will feel the consequences of your actions.

Those that preach forgiveness are asking us to abandon our minds. It's a way of making the victim feel obligated to the culprit, and so allowing himself to be a victim once again. Who benefits from forgiveness as a virtue? Only the immoral. Who suffers? Only the virtuous.

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