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  • Writer's pictureMen's Corner

Forgiveness, Part 1: The Ruin of Men.

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

When they turn the pages of history When these days have passed long ago

Will they read of us with sadness For the seeds that we let grow

We turned our gaze From the castles in the distance

Eyes cast down On the path of least resistance

Rush — 'A Farewell to Kings'

If you are reading this, you are probably a man who wants to improve his life in some way. And any man who wants to grow and improve his life would agree that eliminating harmful things from one's environment is one of the key-elements of improvement. The choice to forgive a person who has done us harm (not 'forget' what they have done, and not seeking reconciliation with them like a fool who can't wait to put himself in harm's way again), if exercised correctly and without compromising any single other aspect of the man's being, can lead to changes in one's life and being that border on miraculous. If, then, we want to live a healthy life and see changes not only in our soul but also in our body, we must take a deeper look at our own journey with forgiveness, and start taking some steps, however small, toward freedom. So why forgiveness? Because it's healthy. And because we owe it to ourselves. If we deprive our own selves from health, we will probably do the same to those we love. A man can, after all, only love others as he loves his own self...

Is Forgiveness a Strength or a Weakness?

With many men, the topic of forgiveness carries a certain stigma — and the problem, in most cases, is not in them. Men whose warrior-nature has not been fully trained out of them, often see the concept of forgiveness as weakness.

To many men 'turning the other cheek' is not something liberating, but it is seen as surrendering one's sovereignty, giving up one's power to protect his world and those who are in it, and most importantly, it is seen as a cowardly way of letting injustice and evil reign in places which they, as men, feel the need to guard.

But although many men use a 'macho' image to hide their fears behind, and scoff at everything that exposes those fears (from being gentle to another person to expressing one's emotions freely), I do not see the problem in men.

Indeed, if we take man's protective nature seriously, we will agree that guarding one's own self from physical, emotional and spiritual harm, and doing the same for one's family and loved ones, is the right thing to do.

And so, if we take the concept of 'forgiveness' to simply mean giving up a portion of one's inbuilt nature as a judge of right and wrong, this would be yet another area of fragmentation in the self — we will be a 'divided house' when it comes to choosing between what we know is right and what we are told we must do. And you do not need me to tell you that men who are thus divided are ineffective. Such men tend to be (speaking for myself here, who have spent most of my life in a state of anxiety) slaves of many fears and inhibitions, unable to live outwardly and impact the world around them for good.

In the same way, if we take 'turning the other cheek' to literally mean not defending one's self and one's realm, we will spend a lifetime suppressing a large part of our true warrior-nature, which is the very single thing that can keep us and our loved ones from being open to harmful influences, choices and relationship. We will also, as it happens so often in our world, train this warrior-nature out of our children — this is what many 'good families' do. As a result, when you have a society that is hell-bent of suppressing the strength of good men, it is only bad men who will keep hold of it. And so, when the sharp sword of man's warrior-nature is not placed in good, trained hands, but remains only in the hands of those who are too broken, too angry, to fatherless and too rebellious to care about fighting for anyone but themselves, we have a phenomenon that the world has been kind enough to define for us: 'toxic masculinity'.

To continue on that thread, if the need to forgive means that a man should part with his 'sword' and open himself to harm, where would the world be today? Where would Great Britain, and perhaps even the whole world, be today if instead of choosing to resist Hitler and fight his armies at all cost, men had just decided to be 'peaceful' and had allowed strong people with evil intentions (yes, 'toxic masculinity' indeed!) to simply march into their land? Good Men or Weak Men?

When we ask good men to lay down their sword and give up their ability to act against injustice, we ask them to become less than who they were born to be. And, while some men would see this for what it is — an attempt to weaken them — and would discard it as an option, many others would go along with the narrative...

We must admit here that, if a man is living in fear, is afraid of confrontation, and is struggling to 'defend his realm' by drawing up firm boundaries when he needs to, then the world's invitation towards passivity and 'forgiveness', would be seen as the perfect way out. We must admit to ourselves that it is a lot easier to do that than challenge our fear of confrontation. After all, if there is no need to challenge or even acknowledge our fear, most of us would all too readily spend our lives in hiding, serving that fear, rather than serving those around us from our truer, deeper, God-given nature.

Serving fear is selfish. Serving others is what men are called to do.

And so it is clear to me why many of us see the world (including organised religion which often claims to be different from 'the world' yet in this aspect it does even worse damage) as something that, instead of helping to liberate, develop and enhance a man's innate nature in all its aspects, actually works to suppress it and keeps good men in a powerless, hopelessly divided state. Instead of being invited on a deeper journey to understand, work through, and finally redeem their feelings, many men today are told to simply distrust them and are 'invited' into a lifetime of suppression. Inside we become divided, and as we know, a house divided is doomed to fall. And taking a man who is already tired and burdened, labouring day and night to suppress his own 'natural' desires in the endless struggle for being a good man, and telling him that he is well and healthy, is a cruel thing.

But we must not blame the world for this disaster; the reasons for it are found neither in religious nor secular institutions. Such things are made by people, and it is what is inside those people that is projected outwardly, into the outside world built by them. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: ''The reason why the world lacks unity and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself.''

And so, if we want to be whole and bridge the gap between what is inside of us — the passions raging in our bodies that we are so terrified by — and what is outside of us in terms of our attempts to build peace and adopt all the teachings that exhort us to be 'good men', we must not allow our world to be divided like we are divided inside.

We must do away with endlessly juggling between the 'private' and 'public' persona; we must end the 'sacred and secular' approach to life. The world has always chased extremes, and they have always brought suffering. In the past, toughness in men was put on a pedestal, at the expense of all the rest that can be found in a man; today sensitivity and compassion are pursued with the same abandon — at the expense of the toughness which we no longer need in our comfortable world. This disturbing tendency can be observed all throughout human history, both individual and collective...

Brains or muscles. Left or Right. Sensitive or Tough. Communism or Nazism. A 'soft' man or a 'hard' man.

A man who is forgiving, or a man who is not. And of course, although most people would prefer to spend time in the presence of the first type, they would probably respect the second type more...

Such is the state of the world. Because such is the state of man. We are divided into groups in the world outside because we are divided within.

Fortunately, there is a third way.

Unfortunately, it involves delving into depths that are too dark and too scary to enter, and dealing with some issues that are neither pleasant nor popular...

Nevertheless, if we want freedom, we must take a look behind the thin, dark veil of fear, self-protection and deceit.



Q: Why forgiveness?

A: Because our mind, spirit and body needs the health that it brings.

Q: What mostly ends up happening with men instead?

A: They are told to 'just forgive' those who have hurt them, and in that, they are asked to suppress a huge part of their inner self and its emotions. This brings death (the 'death' of emotional connectedness to self and others, but also in the form of physical disease and various health conditions that stem from unexpressed emotions in men) instead of life to them. Most men are very good at repressing their emotions anyway, and the exhortation to 'forgive' at the expense of their desire for justice and their warrior-spirit, puts a heavy lid on the already slow progress of their emotional liberation and severely limits their chance for freedom.

Q: What should men do, then?

A: Men must take seriously the need to 'love others as oneself' and allow for all of their self, baggage and all, to be made conscious and worked through in full acceptance. This is how, whatever good and noble parts of them have remained buried and suppressed, can get the chance to be reclaimed, and their inner strength, and all the joy that brings, can be found. If we go about ignoring, suppressing and even hating parts of our own self, we will be disconnected from ourselves; how then can we be connected to others? We will indeed 'love others as ourselves' and treat them with the same amount of love and acceptance we are giving ourselves. One cannot exist without the other — disconnection to self leads to an inability to connect to others. There is a way out but it is a hard journey.

This is why men are called to be brave. Men are called out of the cave of suppression, to a state of deeper connection with themselves and others. That place of service to others doesn't always mean niceness; helping others become their best selves often requires the roar of the lion we all have deep inside...

Q: So, how can men become more forgiving?

A: By first finding their 'roar'.


End of Part 1.



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