Some might say that it has been a rough couple of weeks for us here in the United States. Others will be happy because a contentious season has passed. Still others may be indifferent to the imposed emotional frenzy. No matter where we find ourselves on this spectrum, it is necessary for each of us to live with each with grace and forgiveness.
Some think the Galactic Empire is being channeled, and some think the Rebel Alliance has emerged victorious. Honestly, I think the rich are still getting rich, and I’ll still be in relatively the same place in 4 or 8 years regardless of the larger political world. And that is as it should be. My life should not be dictated, controlled or overly influenced by politicians. I still have neighbors and family members by and through whom I hope to become a better man.
Back when I was on a much different career path, we studied the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the maxims that comes to mind presently is this: “If we can’t find a mutually beneficial solution, we agree to disagree agreeably (reference: somewhere in that awesome book).” To disagree agreeably. The decisions made in the democratic context will necessarily mean that some points of view (a political party, for example) are given eminence from time to time. It is how we react in those situations that shows the mettle of a person.
In all situations we can only control one person. It is not our spouse (she told me I can’t). It is not our child (they all refuse to be civilized). It is not even my dog (or he would share more of my bed with me). The only person we can cause to react in the entire galaxy is ourselves. I can only change me. I cannot change you. Therefore, if there is a disagreement or a resentment, my only positive recourse is to love and forgiveness. Today, I am going to deal with the concept of forgiveness.
Let us look at two situations – father and son relationships where forgiveness was being offered.
Last year, Han and Leia were looking for reconciliation with their son. They were willing to do anything for him – even turn to the Resistance upside down for a chance to reconcile him to the light side. As Han approached him on that railingless catwalk, there were only two ways that he would be returning. He apologized for his shortcomings as a father. He offered everything he had to his son. He could not change the past nor make too many promises for the future, but he offered all of his heart to his son. Ben, of course, did not wish to be reconciled to his family. The forgiveness offered by Han was refused – but Han’s compassion and care were no less diminished. Forgiveness is closely related to another concept – humility. Humility is to know who you truly are and behave accordingly. Han was a flawed man, and knew exactly that. Ben’s acceptance did not change the offering from the scoundrel’s heart.
Many years earlier, Luke faced off against his own father on the second Death Star in front of the most malevolent Emperor. Among these three men, we see two very oppositional dynamics. The Emperor was the ultimate master of puppets, manipulating Anakin and bending him to his demented will. Palps controlled those around him, while exalting his own status. A failure of humility. On the other hand, Luke was willing to lose his own life to redeem that of his father’s Luke offered everything he had for his father – not that his actions would ever be sufficient. They could only call Anakin back to the Light Side, not compel him. Luke forgave his father for the damage that was done to himself. Luke showed Anakin that there was a path to forgiveness for himself. Only Anakin could make the decision to forgive himself in his utter pain. This anguish could be seen in his confusion at the height of the Emperor torturing Luke with the Force Lightening. Years ago, one of the bishops of my Church related this very prescient story for our day. As we are looking at an ever-changing social and political climate, and buffeted about by the uncertainty of our future, we must make ourselves vessels of forgiveness. Metropolitan Jonah wrote:
“There is a story in the desert fathers about a young novice who was told by his elder, “Go and yell at the rock.” So, for half a day, he went and yelled at a rock, insulted, berated, and cursed it. He went back to his elder, who told him, “Now, praise and flatter the rock.” So he went back and praised, flattered, and said nice things to the rock. He went back and his elder asked him, “How did the rock react when you praised it?” “It didn’t,” he said. “How did it react when you screamed at it and cursed it?” “It didn’t react,” he said. “So,” said the elder, “should you also be impervious to praise or [slander], and react to both in the same way, as did the rock.”
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