Precedence, Situational Virtue, Dementia

Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

A serious question, in my view, is whether forgiveness or repentance precedes the other. If we can never forgive until the harm-doer repents and/or makes amends, then the harm-doer holds our feelings hostage and continues to do us harm. Jesus says to forgive and doesn’t say to await prior repentance.

There’s actually an interesting cross-cultural ethical difference here between Western and Confucian. According to Philip J. Ivanhoe in Confucian Moral Self-Cultivation, the Western focus, thanks to Aristotle, is to establish what is “the good”. Confucianism, in contrast, focuses on “being good”.

So we debate the precedence of repentance versus forgiveness. A Confucian works on improving his or her situational virtue. I think it’s more virtuous to “live and let live” and to be in control of one’s own moral agency. And Jesus says, along with Confucian founders (Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi) that we should focus on our own inadequacies, and not those of others.

So that’s what I try to do, though imperfectly. And I try to confess when I fail, which is not uncommon, I’m afraid. Sometimes I fail spectacularly, like a recent shouting match with an old man in the park over what he perceived as poor driving on my part. Five minutes later, he had apparently forgotten the altercation. And I thought “blessed are those with dementia”. I remember and am ashamed that in the heat of the moment I did not practice what I profess to believe. And what would God say – I should ask Him!?

About brucelarochelle
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