Friday, June 10, 2011

Rupiah is seeking votes, not reconciliation

Rupiah is seeking votes, not reconciliation
By The Post
Fri 10 June 2011, 04:00 CAT

Rupiah Banda and the MMD are not seeking reconciliation with the leadership of the Catholic Church. What they are seeking is political support from the leadership of the Catholic Church.

There appears to be a realisation in the MMD leadership that their hatred against and attacks on the leadership of the Catholic Church was not going well with the great majority of our people and was starting to be politically costly for them.

This is all that is making them talk about reconciliation with the Catholic Church. Otherwise, what would be the reconciliation for when Rupiah himself has openly said that there were no problems between the MMD and his government on the one hand and the leadership of the Catholic Church on the other.

Rupiah has consistently maintained that they have never differed with the Catholic Church. If they have never differed with the Catholic Church, what is the reconciliation about?

Clearly, these are not sincere people. These are crooks who try to crook their way into everything, around everything. They are realising that their attitude towards the Catholic Church, their hostile statements against Catholic priests and bishops are starting to hurt them politically. And they want to control the political damage of all this.

Nothing worries them other than the loss of elections. Anything that doesn’t affect their electoral chances, they don’t care about it. It is the fear of losing elections that is making them say all these things – things they actually don’t mean.

We don’t think that the Catholic leadership has any problems forgiving anyone who does them wrong. But the MMD leadership has not admitted doing any wrong against the Catholic Church. As we have already pointed out, the position of Rupiah is that they have never differed with the Catholic Church.

It is said that people do wrong things because they do not have sufficient knowledge or freedom. If they are not guilty, what is there to forgive? If there is no contrition on their part, why should there be forgiveness? True, the evildoer’s action is bad or wrong. It hurts us. He knows what he is doing. But how much does he know? Does he know all the implications of his actions on himself or on others?

The Catholic Church, in our view, harbours no bad feelings towards Rupiah and his friends and forgave them a long time ago. And right now, there is nothing to forgive. To realise that there is nothing to forgive is true forgiveness. There is nothing to forgive because the stupid things they were saying, the silly things they were saying were out of ignorance. To forgive just because the other has apologised or admitted his mistake or out of condescension, is not true forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an act of love and in love, one does not put another down. The interaction has to be on the basis of ‘win-win’. When we forgive because the other apologised, it is like saying, “Okay, now that you have realised your mistake or admitted it, we forgive you.”

Forgiveness is difficult, especially for those who have been brought up in an atmosphere of harshness and resentment. But forgive we must, if we are to find peace of soul and health of body. It is said that life is an adventure in forgiveness. Nothing clusters the soul more than remorse, resentment and recrimination. Forgiveness is a gift we need to give not only to others but to ourselves also, freeing us from self-punishment and enabling us to see wider horizons.

There are times when we may feel wronged, betrayed, deceived, humiliated. It would be unhealthy not to react against the outrage. Certainly, we ought not to grant others the right to give us ulcers. Forgiveness is not only a precept of Christ or of religious teachers, but it is also a law of nature. Physical and psychological health depends on forgiveness.

Non-forgiveness, holding a grudge, resentment and various forms of anger, all perform the same task – they keep us protected from perceived danger and away from pain of loss. Much psychic and physical energy is needed to keep up this defensive attitude. Most of us have experienced how resentment fatigues us. Forgiveness on the other hand puts us in contact, again, with people.

This relaxes us, saving us a lot of energy. How do we move onto forgiveness? The first requisite is that we really want it. That decision is ours and we need to make it. Many say that they want to forgive because they know it is a precept of their religion. But deep down, they would rather not forgive if they possibly could.

It is not unusual to hear such people saying, ‘Yes, I have forgiven; but God will teach them a lesson, ‘ or ‘I have forgiven, but see how they pay for what they did to me.’ One sure sign that these people don’t want to forgive is that they harbour with great care the unjust treatment meted out to them. The first step towards forgiveness, then, is to really want it. If such a thought frightens us, we need to pray for the grace to want to forgive.

It is said that people who find forgiveness hard are usually those who have not forgiven themselves. If we do not accept ourselves, we can make demands on ourselves that are impossible to meet. When we fail, we find it difficult to forgive our stupidity and incompetence. A self-forgiving stance, on the other hand, creates an attitude of tolerance and flexibility.

Forgiveness is easy when the violators see the pain they have caused us and sincerely apologise for their wrong doing. But as we have seen from the behaviour of Rupiah and his minions, the trouble is that they may not always apologise. Some people just don’t realise how much pain they cause us.

A critical remark, doing something without consulting or informing us when we can legitimately expect that they do, and so on and so forth, can indeed cause us a good deal of pain. Yet others may feel that they have caused us pain, but are too proud to apologise. They feel that if they do, they diminish in our estimation, forgetting the truth that admitting a mistake is a sign of greatness.

Some try many different things and yet do not succeed in forgiving. Christ tells us three things we can do, as a last-ditch effort, which can help us towards forgiveness, provided, of course, we want to forgive and are ready to do what he asks of us. He says: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

If we want to forgive and love our enemy, we need to do good to them, bless them and pray for them. These are all acts within our power. Forgiveness, like love, is not so much a feeling, as a decision to act in a particular way. Feelings are not directly under our control, but actions are. We may have to do these actions almost mechanically for some time before we begin to experience feelings of forgiveness, namely the absence of resentment and a certain degree of closeness to or freedom with the other person.

The first prerequisite to reconciliation is that we do good to those who have hurt us. This is what St Paul means when he says: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is Mine to avenge: I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him: If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:19-20).

The second is bless them. “Bless them”, as its Latin root bene dicere means to speak well of the other.

Avoid all criticism, slander and gossip about the others and say good things about them. The last prerequisite is to pray for them; pray, not that they may realise their mistakes and come to apologise to us, but that God grant them their wishes and all things that would make them happy. It is remarkable how those who do these things
get rid of their resentments and come to forgive others.

Some might object that it is hypocrisy to behave towards others as if we love them when we really don’t. There is no hypocrisy here, because we admit that we don’t have feelings of forgiveness but that we are doing these acts precisely because we want to forgive. Hence the saying, ‘enemies are not those who hate us, but rather whom we hate.’

Usually we say ‘forgive and forget’, as if to mean that when we forgive someone, we also forget the incident that caused us pain. Forgiveness does not imply forgetting. As long as our memory is reasonably good, we will remember most of the things of our past, both good and bad. So remembering a painful incident does not mean that we have not forgiven. The test whether we have forgiven or not is whether we behave lovingly towards the other and speak well of him.

One indication of such forgiveness is that we do not get emotional when we think or speak of the event that pained us. However, to forgive does not imply that we are as close to the other person as we were earlier.

This could happen; but not necessarily. It is perfectly okay to forgive one and at the same time decide not to have the other too much around, if that is possible or desirable. If from previous experience we know that temperamentally we do not get along too well with the other, it would be in the interest of both parties to keep a
respectable distance without, of course, alienating the other.

To such as those who thus forgive will peace be given: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with passion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Col 3:12-15).

We are also told in a Chinese proverb that “one who pursues revenge should dig two graves”.

Clearly, true reconciliation is to seek and accept forgiveness. Reconciliation cannot remain just mere words; it has to be visible in concrete actions and through eradicating the cause of dissension between people. Let us humbly accept our wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness for the times we have offended others. Contrition and forgiveness are the conditions for reconciliation not only between us and God, but also between people.

But it’s not possible to have meaningful reconciliation when people are not honest with themselves and others. Clearly, Rupiah and his minions are not honest with themselves and others. They are simply crooks seeking nothing but re-election and retention of power and the privileges that go with it.

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