Thursday, September 9, 2010

As I Have Loved You

Generally speaking, I consider myself to be a forbearing and empathetic individual. However, I realized recently to my horror that there are limits to my compassion. I am not sure what to make of this defect in my character. Perhaps part of me is terrified to think of what would happen if these limits didn't exist. For instance, if I could empathize with Hitler, would that mean that I was capable of committing genocide myself?

There are several subcategories of people that I find myself unable to empathize with or be compassionate towards. Here are some of them:

Mass-murderers and those who commit genocide top the list. MrC likes to remind me that even Hitler had a mother and probably loved his wife. I have difficulty believing that. I find it revolting that he could think there is inherent good in someone who delights in torturing others.

Child molesters and pedophiles. MrC has a friend who sexually abused his toddler. Ick, ick, double ick. I find it impossible to forgive the man, despite his life-long relationship with my husband. I can no longer see past this person's sin. I feel such revulsion at the thought of hurting a child that just thinking about it makes me want to scream.

Men who abandon their wives without support. I watched a friend go through hell a few years ago when her husband of 10 years left her when she found out she was pregnant with their son. She lost her job when the baby was born, lost her home (since it was provided by her job), lost absolutely everything. The husband was previously a friend of mine, and although even the wife forgives him, I still harbor deep anger and hatred towards him.

Men or women who emotionally manipulate their spouse or children. I see it as emotional abuse when anyone consistently and systematically makes their spouse or child feel like they are going crazy, like they are pitiful and worthless, takes away their power, is overly controlling and manipulative, or when they play the "martyr card" after manipulating someone to do what they want.

Do you have anyone on your list of people that you can't find it possible to forgive? If so, how do you deal with this in light of God's admonition to forgive all?


Stephen said...

Hmm, I've known people who left the LDS Church since if you abandon your spouse without support you can't get a temple recommend. Glad to see you don't sympathize with them.

As David O McKay said, it is evil to remain in a marriage where there is abuse.

Your blog was interesting, obviously we don't agree on much, but I found this post sympathetic.

Quiet Song said...

My problem is not finding it possible to forgive, I'm pretty good at that. But trusting, that's another story. Certain folks after doing certain acts, never get certain opportunities with me again.

I find that crazy making behavior is epidemic, most people engage in it to a least a small degree. I don't like it, but oh well.

The older I get the more tolerant I get of other people's foibles and the clearer my own come into focus.

Lisa said...

As far as I can tell you've pretty much nailed it for me.

Did you mention pedophiles?

I'm generally against the death penalty, but I'd be willing to make exceptions in these cases. Though my conscience says only if it's 100% proof-positive the guy/girl did it.

Aerin said...

For me, I remember that I just never know where people are coming from. I don't know their story. Of course, being a victim of horrible abuse does not excuse abusing someone else. I just like to remember that I don't know where everyone has been.

That doesn't mean I have to understand why a monster does something, why people commit evil. There are no reasons for some things. And people should be prosecuted and held responsible for the acts they do commit.

But I feel like I don't have to judge anyone. I can protect myself and my kids. I don't have to be a good friend of someone who abandons their kids, for example, but I don't have to pretend I know the situation intimately if I don't know...maybe this isn't making sense.

I'm not trying to defend the indefensible, just that there are two side to every story. Personally, I spent too long myself being worried about whether other ward members were following the word of wisdom, and whether or not they were lying about is too short.

Aerin said...

PS. I'm not suggesting anyone here is saying that, or that you are saying this MC. Just that the whole idea of forgiveness (particularly in mormonism) is strange and screwed up IMO. There is way too much focus on what everyone else is doing and has done.