Why we don’t teach forgiveness

Why we don’t teach forgiveness

How could it be that we don’t actively practice forgiveness? The most popular prayer in the world, literally a prayer straight from the big Guy admonishes “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Yet forgiveness is not taught, practiced or developed in mainstream education.

To the extent encouraged in religious education it is superficially treated as in “you must learn to be forgiving.” Great, but learn from whom?

Forgiving is hard man!How can I forgive

Who is giving lessons in how and why to forgive?

Telling people they should forgive because the Lord said we should hasn’t worked. Just listen to the news.

And telling someone to (just) forgive is as effective as shoving a non-swimmer into heavy seas and telling him that he should just swim.

If forgiveness is the key to getting into heaven, why aren’t forgiveness how-to classes a major part of at least religious education?  And if we believe the major health benefits from forgiving why isn’t forgiveness a major part of mainstream education?

Possible explanations

The ego’s sense of self and it’s will to survive explains why it’s difficult to forgive, but it does not explain why we don’t teach HOW to forgive.

Old testament examples of God himself being vengeful certainly provides a convenient excuse for not forgiving, but again it doesn’t explain why society and mainstream education doesn’t actively encourage and practice forgiveness.

Christian hypocrisy

Christians are surprisingly unconscious on this issue as Bill Maher pointed out in the “New Rules” segment of episode 213 on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’.

Bill’s new rule is, “Christians who support torture and execution need to come up with a new name for themselves.” The point being that you can’t call yourself a Christian while contravening a defining trait of the Christian faith: forgiveness.Intelligent people don't take offence

As Bill says in the clip above, “Jesus lays on that hippie stuff pretty thick. He has lines like, ‘Do not repay evil with evil,’ and ‘Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.’

There’s no arguing that mainstream society only pays lip service to forgiveness as a virtue.
Why? Because …


Our economy is turbo-boosted by revenge and victimhood. Drug companies, lawyers, prisons, security services, the military industrial complex, doctors, hospitals and Hollywood etc. all benefit directly or indirectly from our unwillingness to forgive and put things behind us.

Yes people do make money giving classes and writing books on forgiveness (there are over 10,000 Forgiveness titled books on Amazon), but the BIG MONEY is in vengeance.money

Hollywood glorifies the myth

Die Hard with a VENGEANCE!
Die Hard with a VENGEANCE!

Hollywood perpetuates (and profits from) the myth of fruitful revenge. The hero suffers a hateful crime, and comes back at the end to exact his retribution. S/he walks away from the exploding home of the evil people who deserve what’s going down, and the audience feels good.

This is how real-life should be. “Don’t mess with me man, because I’ll mess you up!”

Except real-life does not allow pissed off civilians to successfully take out scores of heavily armed ex-military types; it also doesn’t bring peace to the avenged victor.

And the media spoon feeds us daily

The world is full of bad and dangerous people and we should constantly be on the lookout. Living in fear is a natural consequence of a vengeance diet.fox_news_bombing

Overt messages of crime and punishment fill the news every day.  Commentators speaking out for justice really signal that punishment is what justice requires.

Justice is what we demand.

…with euphemisms

demotivators_I demand justiceAnd of course we’re not told we’re practicing and supporting vengeance.

Mainstream media and those who benefit talk about justice, fairness, defence and the war on terror to name a few.

The message drummed into our head by the media is clear. Whenever wronged, you must seek compensation, retaliate, call law enforcement, lawyers, cut them off etc. Andforgiveness is sign of strength by the way, there’s always some bad person out there looking to make you a victim.

Forgiveness is for financially poor spiritual types and wimps.

and the economy booms

The narrative of vengeance feeds the system set up to profit from it.

Drug companies benefit from the medications people take to cope with the anxiety, hatred that comes with not forgiving.

The anti-forgiveness culture gives lawyers, law enforcement, corrections, therapists, security companies, gated real estate, and even hospitals their major source of clients, customers and patients.

especially the military industrial complex

fighter jetAnd let’s not forget the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned about.  Engagement in and preparation for war is a trillion-dollar industry.  guns bulletsHaving forgiveness be the default go-to solution for the average citizen is not going to fuel the narratives of fear and hatred necessary to keep that industry going.

Imagine a world that actively practiced forgiving

Consider this: if we were to begin teaching our young people not only why, but how to practice forgiveness; if we were to actively coach them through forgiving daily transgressions, we would impact not only individual lives, but we would also profoundly alter wider society, economies and the world itself.quote-anger-makes-you-smaller-while-forgiveness-forces-you-to-grow-beyond-what-you-are

Imagine a world where people didn’t get distracted by victimhood and remained focussed on their dreams, where people were not quick to take offence, and most of all forgave themselves.

We would have a world of thick-skinned, warm-hearted compassionate people who looked out for each other, and helped each other live great lives.

Imagine all the ex lawyers, police, prison officers, military people who would be telling us about the artists, designers, scientists, teachers, and businessmen they have become.

Forgiving is a sign of love.
Forgiving is a sign of love.

Perhaps this was the heaven the Jesus was trying to tell us about.  It could be here now, or very soon.

Any thoughts? Contributions/acknowledgments welcome.