“Though it Hurts Us…” Olive Branches and Forgiveness after a Toxic Election

olive-branch

Friend’s of Padre Steve’s World,

This is kind of an awkward post for me to write. Those who know me well know that I don’t back down from fights, I don’t suffer insults well, and have a vast capacity to harbor a grudge. So this is my attempt to scribble down my reflections on forgiveness which is something that I don’t do well.

In Homer’s Iliad Achilleus lamented the conflict with the Achaians, especially the hatred that it had spawned, he addressed those who had been his enemies and said: “Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us, and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us. Now I am making an end of my anger. It does not become me, unrelentingly to rage on…”

I think that the ancient lament is particularly appropriate to our time. For decades the acrimony between Americans has been getting worse and worse and and most of us probably have some measure of personal guilt in what the last several election cycles have done to us. They have been corrosive to our society and to us as individuals, me included. I have been able to do some reflecting today because I was having work done to repair some to the flood damage from Hurricane Matthew and had some time alone as well as some quality time walking my Papillon dogs around the lake in our neighborhood.

I have lost too many friends during this election cycle, and seen some distance in other relationships with people who I love and respect. Some of this is my own fault, I became too consumed with the news cycle and too emotionally invested in what was going on. Most of the time I think I behaved well, but other times I did not. My temper grew short and my ability to brush off minor personal affronts, not to mention real attacks on my person, honor, and character grew shorter.

I have had to pull back some. I am spending less time on social media, less time looking at more partisan news sites, checking the veracity of anything I read and before forwarding it out to others, and being more circumspect in posting links to articles with which I might agree, but the tenor of which could drive further wedges between me and friends. To paraphrase Achilleus’s words about his anger, “It does not become me, unrelentingly to rage on…” 

There are a number of people that I will have to ask forgiveness of, and that will be hard because I am so bad at it. But harder will be forgiving others who have wounded me badly. I will work on that, initially it may be silently, until I reach the point that I can actually address them in person. Mark Twain wrote,“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.” 

That being said I have a difficult time forgiving those who have hurt me, but conversely I can admit when I have been a complete ass and pray that those I have offended are better at forgiveness than me.

In ancient Greece and Rome the olive branch was a symbol of peace, and the term to offer an olive branch now is to offer peace, and I will be doing that over the coming weeks and months. I see it as my personal attempt to help bind up the wounds of the nation. As the American Civil War was drawing to a close, Abraham Lincoln uttered these words in his Second Inaugural Address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…”

That being said even in forgiveness there will still be pain, on occasion anger will still rise. Likewise I am sure that even in restored relationships some scars will remain, as will some of our more deep disagreements. But in spite of that it is better for to at least try forgive and love than remain in the acidic stew of hatred generated by this election. The olive branch is symbolic of peace and forgiveness as the olive tree takes years to mature and bear fruit, while war, societal conflict takes so little effort and leaves scars that last for generations.

So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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6 Comments

Filed under faith, philosophy

6 responses to ““Though it Hurts Us…” Olive Branches and Forgiveness after a Toxic Election

  1. luikart21

    DAMN it. You are making me think. You’re telling me to be a better person and I heard you . Damn it. You ask for a lot from yourself. I feel I need to try. Cuss, cuss, cuss.
    Pray for me, please. I’m going to need it.

  2. Bill McReynolds

    Oh my…. the path to forgiveness. Rocky, steep. And, chock-full of some really vicious attack ‘sticker bushes’, ready to draw blood if you stumble. And, after all that effort and pain – all too often, there is no open gate at the end of the cursed, awful path. Just an insurmountable Freaking WALL! Oh man.. I admire your courage Padre. You inspire me to TRY and forgive those jackasses who worked so tirelessly, endlessly to de-legitimize America’s first black president. Those folks I should forgive, who seemingly tilled that fertile ground of America’s consciousness with their own hatreds, grievances and grudges. The Mob who carefully grew the sulphuric conditions that permitted this orange monster to emerge from all that slime and take over the reigns of power in this nation.
    Sure, I’ll try to forgive. Move on. And when that Monster Of Vulgarities ultimately BITES OFF those gullible, ‘hatred indoctrinated’ hands that so carefully fed and grew it? I’m gonna try – real hard – not to say, “I told you so”. So keep working it Padre. In this grievance process, I personally haven’t arrived yet at the step you seem to be on. But, I (And apparently millions of others also out there) am trying to work through this thing. And one day, hopefully soon I’ll get there also……

    • padresteve

      Believe me I am still only in the planning stage. Taking the steps will be harder. Like you I know

    • padresteve

      Like you I can read the tea leaves and I expect that beast will bite off more than a few hands, and heads as well. It will be a difficult time.

  3. Brian

    Padre Steve,
    Christians need to read and embrace Paul’s admonition to believers in Romans 12. It is a passage that most Evangelicals will have a hard time with. The phrase “living sacrifice” needs to be understood to mean we give up the emotions of hate, prejudice, and vengeance that we hold so dear. To act I love and peace when every fiber of our being screams out to hate is indeed a real and necessary sacrifice. Until Christians learn to do that the church will always be regarded as something contrary to what the Bible teaches about attitude and action.

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