Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Death of Forgiveness

I keep a journal of thoughts and wisdoms I find profound. One of my favorites is, "Never forgive.  Never forget."  It's likely one of the reasons why some people find me unreasonably harsh, but I don't believe I'm cold nor cruel.

I prefer to think of myself as effective, someone who values both fact and feelings, but utilizes feelings as motivation to solve factual problems with factual remedies. That's why I don't believe in forgiveness. Forgiveness, to coin a phrase, is for suckers. Oh, it never used to be that way. But it sure is now. Not because forgiveness is no longer virtuous; it's just that there's no longer any virtue to be had.

Allow me to explain:

In case you missed it, the United States of America has undergone a magnificent transformation since about 1992. Lots of people are too old to care about it, and even more are too young to have noticed it.  I'm lucky. I'm just the right age to have lived through it. On Facebook, I'm summarily dismissed as just "another old white man," which contrary to its intent, I take as a high compliment. The reason I feel so honored has nothing to do with race or skin color.  It has everything to do with virtue.

See, I'm one of those guys who still believes in character, ethics and responsibility. The transformation to which I refer is mainly concerned with the notion of accountability.

Did I say "notion?" I meant to say extinction, because no longer do accountability and self-worth seem to be desirable characteristics. "Taking responsibility" has given way to "finding someone else to blame," and lest you think it the exclusive province of young people, let me assure you that isn't the case.  It started with boomers, when everything from class action lawsuits to those women with clipboards in the Human Resources department virtually assured that nobody was personally responsible for anything.

In those days, politicians passed laws and programs designed to "foster positive environments," which actually ended up shielding people from the rush of overcoming adversity and conquering fear, resulting in a nation where, inexplicably, people discuss a catalog of 57 genders while managing to keep a straight face.

As the country's ideals transformed from a nation of stalwart, self-sustaining individuals into a whining mass of video drones, the lack of personal accountability took its toll ever so insidiously. Because everybody left it to the other guy, nobody took it upon himself to care about anything. The only problem was that there never was another guy to take care of it. It was easy to pawn everything off on the government, but judging by the piles of human waste, used needles and derelicts on the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Austin, New York, Chicago and countless other cities, that plan doesn't seem to have worked out all that well.

When people my age tell younger folks that "it never used to be like that," we're dismissed with ignorant retorts about human rights, racism and social justice. But nobody mourns the death of individual accountability.  Nobody seems to know that if bettering yourself your own life is part of your core beliefs, everyone and everything around you is much better -- at far less emotional and financial cost.

Forgiveness never works with slackers. It only works with people who are accountable for their behavior, because those are the only ones who realize their mistakes aren't worth repeating.  But to someone who lacks accountability, infringing on others isn't an error, it's a lifestyle with a simple life plan: Intrude on others, beg forgiveness, then do it all over again.

And that's why I never forgive anyone for anything. In my book, once was a goof, twice was a decision. And there are simply too many people who choose not to stop making the same bad decisions.

A while back, I noticed a tent pitched in my side yard. It contained three twenty-something drug-addicted bums and about twenty five freshly sniffed aerosol cans. The two men and one woman were filthy and high at seven in the morning. They weren't bothered by intruding on and stealing from another person's private domain. In fact, they were more than a bit miffed that I was evicting them.  I told them to leave. They didn't care. Fortunately, we still have cops in our neighborhood who do.

Some people would say I'm too harsh. That I should have given the bums some money and helped them out. Maybe one day, a long time ago, I might have. But now that so many people up and down the socio-economic ladder are so completely unaccountable for themselves, my reaction to those begging forgiveness doesn't run so much along the lines of "Here's a twenty."

Honestly, it sounds a lot more like, "Fuck you."


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