An eye for an eye in 2020 (or why we need to be more forgiving today)
So I’m sitting in suburbia, writing about forgiveness, when the headline of today’s news announces “Iran vows revenge.”
It’s January 2020 and no matter where you live–big city, suburbia, cornfield, America or Iran–you and I are boiling together in a pot of unforgiving times.
A human stew of hard lessons. An eye for an eye. Blood for blood. Lives for lives. No matter the cost.
As I’ve said to my students before, “Before the nightly news there was Shakespeare.”
Hamlet, Iago, Titus, Richard III personified revenge. The Bard penned hot-blooded characters who sought revenge no matter the cost, even if the cost was with their own life.
Today, I was talking to a student about his potential college choice when, in mid-conversation he said, “But it doesn’t matter. We’re going to war and I’ll probably be drafted.”
Now, I don’t know if there’s going to be a draft or a war and I don’t know much about international diplomacy however, I do know the fear in the student’s eyes as he spoke about an uncertain future.
Shakespeare taught us revenge is never clean. And revenge, like applying for a home-equity loan, is always marred with hidden fees and unexpected costs.
No matter the play, the final scene of Shakespeare’s tragedies is littered with bodies and, if the revenger is still alive, they’re left to suffer a life where everyone they love is dead.
Though entertaining, Shakespearean tragedies are warnings about how grudges–cultural, personal, national–distort and deform the integrity of human soul. How grudges dehumanize and fracture the civility we all hold dear.
Whether it’s 1580 or 2020, revenge will always sell newspapers but forgiveness is how we humanity perseveres.
I hope in 2020, despite today’s headlines, you continue the unforgiving art of forgiveness. Forgiving yourself, forgiving others is difficult work. When we hurt, we hold onto to that hurt until the hurt pulls us down.
Don’t let the hurt pull you down today.
Don’t let today’s feeling destroy tomorrow.
And don’t read to much into news headlines either.
Because no matter what the bold print says–unforgiving times demand maximum forgiveness.
Here I am reading the newspaper in suburbia. Can you find the poker chip in the picture? Check out why I carry around a poker chip.