We are raised to see only the good in people. As Americans, we believe in forgiveness so much that we try to do it almost instantly after an apology is given. If a person offers an apology and it is not immediately accepted the aggressors's eyes, the victim deserved the crime as payback for the rejection. Religion trains us to see each of us as flawed beings who only needs another person's help to reach salvation. But what if the other person is not ready to forgive? What if the crime supercedes earthly action? The hurt person isn't wrong for allowing their negative feelings to be known.
However, we as a society push others into atonement as if it will absolve the crime and if it isn't accepted-they are bad Christians. We all make mistakes, but if someone does something bad they should not force someone into spiritual subjugation. My father once (dozens of times really) was caught cheating. His angered response when his mistress wrote a letter to my mother was, "You have to forgive me." He mimed at laugh at me his five year daughter. My mother cried harder and I was left confused. Who was the bad person? A person who betrayed or the person who would not forgive.
Priests touted turning the other cheek in Mass and I wanted to be a good Catholic. Mama never forgave him for his abnormally high number of infidelities and in turn his sisters, my aunts, never forgave my wronged mother. In fact, this act or lack of, turned my immediate family against my father's. They said it was a Cuban faux pas and it would harm us children if she did not accepted his mock apology. But as a wife, she had a right not to forgive him. He broke their marriage vows and humiliated her in front of her Irish Catholic family.
The sweet irony was my Aunt Cuca's husband cheated in her with her best friend Virginia who he later married. At my Uncle's funeral Virginia would not let Aunt Cuca in. Virginia wanted everyone to focus on her and her grief. When my aunt and uncle divorced I asked her on the way to church why she didn't forgive him. All the adults in the car were dead silent. It was such a mixed message for a 8 year old girl. SO what constituted forgiveness? Why was it such a taboo not to forgive someone? Did every action merit forgiveness no matter how heinous the crime?
The word forgiveness is as overused as sexy was in the 90s. It has to stop being compulsive. But how far has it gone? Are we able to get in touch with our feelings, if society keeps negating them? When does it end? Is it an offshoot of our generalized insincerity or something rooted in generations of religion. Catholicism can forbid premarital sex and give us long-standing guilt in return: let us have our precious anger. Sometimes it is the only thing keeping us going. I personally believe we really have to feel things before we move through and over them.