On Being Treated Unfairly: Don’t Let Them Win Twice!
Forgiveness Stops the Hurt So the "Bad Guys" Don't Defeat You
Posted Nov 11, 2017
So often when I talk with people who have suffered severe injustices, they are not ready to forgive. This is a normal reaction because a time of anger and adjustment to what happened is important. Forgiveness never should be rushed or pushed onto anyone. To the injured does the decision to forgive belong.
Within the past few weeks, I was talking with a teenager who lives under very trying circumstances. He lives on the West Coast of the United States. He has a history of violence against others because “this is the way you survive,” he told me. “Forgiveness is a sign of weakness,” he added. “You just can’t imagine what my family would say if I came home and proclaimed that I am forgiving those who hurt me. They would get a big laugh out of this.”
Yet, his strategies are not necessarily working for him. He is in a special program and could be expelled from his school and even from his school district. Three of his relatives are in maximum security prison. I hope we can keep him from following them.
What strikes me in particular about this young man is his apparent kindness. He does not have angry eyes. He talks in a respectful way to me. We are engaged in a conversation, not engaged in a battle of wills. He wants to learn more about forgiveness, but he knows he could pay a dear price for practicing it, especially if his family and peers begin to mock him.
“You can forgive and not tell anyone you did this, not even the one who hut you,” I said. “Those you forgive will know by how you respond to them, by how you are civil to them. You do not have to use the word, ‘forgive.’”
“I need my anger,” was his studied response.
“Don’t let them win twice!” I said to him. “You have been hurt by others’ actions. Now you are carrying around the **effects** of those injustices against you. In your hurt, you are hurting others. In your hurt, you are being told over and over that you are the one who needs rehabilitation. You are the one being stereotyped.”
He looked at me with insightful eyes. He wanted to learn more.
“Yes, you have been hurt by others. Now you are hurting others. You are even hurting yourself by your actions. Do you see how those who hurt you at first are hurting you again? They may not be present to you, but they are inside of you, disrupting you, angering you, causing you pain and causing you to give pain to others.”
“They have hurt me twice,” was his insight. He got it.
“The key now is to deliberately commit to do no harm to those who have injured you. Another key now is to deliberately commit to do no harm to others. Don’t let your pain become others’ pain. When you do that, those who have hurt you win again. Those who originally hurt you win twice.”
I added: "When you forgive, you do not throw justice out the window. When people hurt you, try to exercise both justice and forgiveness together. And justice is very different from revenge. When you seek revenge, you are letting the other win as you come to the attention of authorities, when you are punished.....again."
“They have hurt me enough. They will not win again.”
And with that he committed to working on his own anger.....so that “the bad guys” don’t have a chance to win a second time. We shook hands. We have a mutual respect for each other as persons.
How about you? Have others hurt you? Are you allowing them to win again?
Forgiving allows you to win for a change.