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The Philosophy of Forgiveness (continued)

I had at least one reader yesterday *waves* so feel duty bound to finish what I started; even though I know that the reader in question will be concerning themselves with striped mini feline japery this evening and not a lot else.

So, yes, I listen to podcasts at bedtime, often on philosophy, although tonight I might treat myself to the excellent Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole which is book of the week on Radio 4 and set in Harvard Medical School’s Neurology Unit. I digress. Forgive me.

According to the philosopher Lucy Allais, forgiveness means a willingness to see someone who has transgressed against you, not in the light of their wrongdoing with all the associated feelings of hurt or anger. Rather to be prepared and able to see them, if not as you saw them before the transgression, as still a person worth something to you. In short, you do not let an action, colour your whole relation to them. Forgiveness is a letting go, but it is not words, it is an internal process related to feelings.

At least that’s what I think she said, before I fell asleep.

Which brings me to how it feels when someone does not forgive, or when one cannot forgive another.

I think, on balance, it feels worse to be unable to forgive than to be personally unforgiven.

On which note, I commend the rather excellent Metallica song to you, of the same name. Which rather makes this blog post feel like The Weekend News I had to write at primary school, and this paragraph the quick ending I bashed out to get the thing finished before going out to play. In this case however I am merely sloping off to watch House on Netflix.

Now there’s a chap whose friends and colleagues know a thing or two about forgiveness.

What I’ve felt,
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown.

Be warned, this song was so good the band went on to record Unforgiven II and Unforgiven III. You may want to swerve this blog for a while, until we move on.

The Philosophy of Forgiveness

I have a long-standing habit of listening to spoken word at bedtime. I suppose I can roundly blame my mother for this, as she was a dedicated 1970s bedtime story reader. (It is fashionable to lump everything on upbringing these days, but hopefully for not too much longer as we finally consent to grow up as a generation and take responsibility for ourselves. In the meantime, I also blame Philip Larkin for pointing it out.)

Furthermore, I can blame my poor mother for an association my tired brain makes which is spoken word + head on pillow + close eyes = fall asleep in short order. It is, you understand, the spoken word that is the guaranteed soporific. Oftentimes, I try to close eyes + head on pillow and all that = is dancing thoughts leaping and pirouetting in my brain and keeping me awake.

My mother read me fiction, not the newspaper, so once I was older I replaced her with Charles Dickens. Not the actual Charles Dickens sitting on the bed, but an actor’s voice reading Dickens’ words – Great Expectations on audio. As I would fall asleep in short order it took years to hear the whole thing all the way through, albeit completely out of sequence. Then I broke my tape recorder and moved onto the radio – Radio 4, the World Tonight with Robin Lustig to be precise. The thing was, that the news would quite often rev me up, rather than wind me down, and after many, many years of this habit, I knocked it on the head as a bad job on many counts.

I moved on to Melvyn Bragg and the In Our Time podcasts, which are actually too long at three quarters of an hour for a bedtime story. The earpiece I wear to avoid broadcasting the show around the house (I am a little deaf) gets uncomfortable, so I don’t drop off into a deep sleep, rather I snooze uneasily and fitfully as Melvyn bustles his guests along, snapping at their heels all the while.

Which is a very lengthy preamble to say that now I listen to a rather excellent set of *podcasts by Philosophy Bites which is where I came across the philosopher Lucy Allais’ rather interesting interview on forgiveness.

Which I will say more about tomorrow, and illustrate with a song.

I know. You can’t wait.

*at about 15 – 20 minutes the perfect length for bedtime, and sufficiently engaging to nod off to. When the subject matter is intellectually taxing (that’s you Daniel Dennett) I simply employ the method I used as a child when my mother read certain sections of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and become immediately comatose.