I readily admit that there is a moral imperative to forgive; it is clear that forgiveness can be a powerful force of healing and reconciliation.
However, I must speak out when the advice from blogs, articles, books, and spiritual one-liners treats forgiveness as a panacea for hurt, pain, and “moving on” to a happier life—with nary a thought given to the many situations, people, and stages of injury where this counsel is not helpful. Worse, much of the counsel is downright offensive, suggesting that if we can’t forgive we are dwelling on the past, focusing on negative emotions, holding on to grudges, filled with retribution and revenge, addicted to adrenaline, marrying our victimhood, recoiling in self-protection rather than mercy, or poisoning ourselves with non-forgiveness.
These assumptions and judgments not only dismiss the real pain many people suffer; they discourage intelligent analysis of the traumas many people and groups experience. Further, the attitude behind these statements can shame people, making them…
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