Forgiveness is a concept that is widely discussed, poorly understood and rarely practiced.
For a person to “forgive” the following conditions must exist, (1) you must have been wronged and (2) you must have the power and ability to exact retribution.
If you have been wronged, but have no power to exact retribution, you are not in position to forgive anything. What you are doing is merely “writing off” an offense that you can not remedy. Much in the same way that a bank “writes off” a debt that it deems as uncollectable.
When the powerful forgive, it often causes cognitive dissonance, which can lead to gratitude and changed behavior amongst those who have wronged them (because forgiveness is rare and retribution is almost certain). When those who are weak or presumed to be weak “write off” that which appears to be uncollectable, it typically confirms their weakness and may even embolden their transgressors.
Almost all of that which is commonly referred to as “forgiveness”, is merely the powerless “writing off” debts that are uncollectable. While that may have a psychological benefit for the powerless, it is certainly not forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not make you powerful, it is being powerful that allows you to forgive.
About the Author – Shawn D. Rochester is the CEO of Good Steward LLC (GSL) and the founder of PHD Enterprises, and the IDEA Institute. These organizations provide financial education and advisory services to consumers, increase the presence of Black employees and enterprises in US public and private sectors payroll and supply chains, and facilitate commerce between the Black business community across the African Diaspora and on the African continent. Shawn has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from The University of Rochester and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a focus in Accounting, Finance and Entrepreneurship. He is the author of The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America and CPR for the SOuL: How to Give Yourself a 20% Raise, Eliminate Your Debt and Leave an Inheritance for Your Children’s Children.