People often remark on how different my career appears to be from my training. Graduate Student in Philosophy to Paramedic and Yoga Teacher. It couldn’t make more sense to me, but I get why it seems so odd to others.
The thing is, I’m not sure how I’d survive as a medic without my training as a philosopher. The things we see, the situations and injuries and pain and loss and waste and depravity… you have to make sense of them somehow. My training as a philosopher is my touchstone for that.
This week I’m wondering about forgiveness. Things that happen in my patients’ lives invariably make me wonder about mine and those of the people I love. Is there anything beyond forgiveness? Is the unforgivable possible?
Even if the answer to this is “no” – as I think it must be based on the existence of people who’ve forgiven their own torturers, rapists, murderers of their loved ones, – should everything be forgiven?Are there some things in front of which we must draw a line in the sand? Something to seperate these particularly degrading acts from the even marginally acceptable, to scream “NO!” some things won’t be forgiven?
And then I go back to the examples of people from the various holocausts of history, people who forgave other people who took everything from them – not just took what was prescious, but defiled it. Those who forgive usually say they did it for themselves, for the future, and to keep the same awful things from happening again.
Because it’s that pure impulse in to say “NO!” that can warp into its very opposite, morph into the very thing you’re trying to draw a line against. You push so hard against something you’ve made out to be the other that you fall into it’s soft belly and get digested there, become it without your even noticing.
But perhaps we’re each supposed to be at different stages of forgiveness all the time. If we’re all refracted luminescences of Spirit, perhaps we need each other in our various stages of grief and forgiveness and peace so that someone, somewhere is drawing a line, someone else is crossing it with open arms of peace, and someone else is just sitting on it crying. Perhaps together we all express the truth of it. Perhaps together we are beautiful.