The REAL Forgiveness Problem

by Dee Ann Miller

from author's home page:

It suddenly dawned on me, only minutes ago, as I sat quietly meditating. The hang-up that so many institutions have with forgiveness is simply due to projection. It's related to Jesus' reference to the beam of wood in the eye of a hypocrite who is pointing a finger at someone else with only a speck.

While looking at the "unforgiving victim," those in power--both the colluders and perpetrators--are failing to forgive the whistle-blowers for doing what is ethical, while calling it either falsehood or vindictiveness. Of course, as some of you are saying right now, there is really nothing that victims have done except to speak the truth.

Exactly! Yet that's the whole problem. The truth is perceived to be an offense in closed systems. Especially those that claim to be authorities on Sacred Truth. For this bunch, speaking the truth is a SIN.

"Who do you think you are to question a theologian?" they ask. "You are just trying to destroy the Church!"

I agree that the greatest injustice is failing to forgive. They're right about that. Problem is, it's not survivors failing to forgive. It's the failure of fallible individuals from laity to clergy, together making up the system. These are the unforgiving, committing sin by failing to forgive the "unforgiving survivors and advocates." Strange, isn't it, how survivors are the ones most often the falsely accused? With charges ranging from lying to being vindictive or lacking compassion. Then, adding to the role reversal, suggesting survivors are the ones with "beams in their eyes."

I suggest that two simple questions be posed to colluding individuals, as well as perpetrators:

1) "When are you going to forgive victims for speaking the truth?"

2) "How will your responses change when you do?"

This puts the burden of forgiveness where it belongs--with the REAL offenders.

Dee Miller, RN

Dee Ann Miller is the author of Enlarging Boston's Spotlight: A Call for Courage, Integrity, and Institutional Transformation (2017) How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct (1993) and The Truth about Malarkey (2000)