Forgiveness is the Heart of Justice


Quick Summary: Forgiveness is the heart of justice… by this I mean to say that the ‘justice’ we seek can often be deconstructed into meaning simply vengeance. There is no justice is vengeance as the suffering which we seek justice for actually tends to grow with acts of vengeance (these acts which perpetuate suffering are often validated by suggesting that they are healing mechanisms inherent in the concept of justice). Forgiveness is the balance to suffering… in forgiveness you interact with the suffering as opposed to the host of the suffering (the offender). In forgiveness you see the intention of suffering and you recognize that to balance the suffering in this world you cannot simply take measurable action against other biological entities… suffering is an abstraction… it is with compassion and empathy and love that we might balance the suffering in this existence. Forgiveness is not to condone or to forget… it is to love everything unconditionally.

Ultimately we are all interconnected – you can look at this ecologically, from a social dependence stand point, from a biological attachment stance (we need secure attachments to others to function optimally) or from any other vantage point such as the spiritual… whichever way you choose to look at the issue I am suggesting that vengeance ends up hurting the very people who were tempted by its dramatic pull.

The perpetrators of vengeance unintentionally expand and perpetuate the very suffering which was done unto them.


– let me clarify here that to some degree we are all the perpetuators of suffering to some degree at some point in time… I do not claim to be above this influence.

 “If I shall be wronged I shall feel my offender’s pain so as to not pass on suffering again…”

In our existential pursuits to make meaning from meaninglessness we created good and evil and chose to view the subject dichotomously.

I have felt the pain of unimaginable suffering transmitted into the safety of my therapeutic space and I have something to report… there are no evil people.

Instead there are people who’s suffering is of such a magnitude that that suffering unconsciously and/or consciously encourages the host (the person who suffers) to perpetuate that suffering.

Our innate ability to offer compassion in the face of suffering appears to be relative to the individual – by this I mean that for some unexplainable reason there are people who have suffered comparably less and engage in colossal acts of vengeance and there are people who have suffered unimaginably who are not persuaded by the temptations of vengeance.

I would also suggest that to some degree we have the ability to feel the suffering of the world in its’ entirety… so then we can feel a compassion for the world in its entirety.

Forgiveness is love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and an appreciation for the interconnection of all things. Forgiveness is not to condone but rather to transcend suffering… to see suffering as a natural part of life… and to then choose to let your intuition guide you towards being compassionate towards all, which is the way to truly be compassionate to yourself.

Forgiveness is something effectively offered to suffering itself… a suffering which has been around infinitely longer than the offender who newly presented to you an old abstraction.

I personally do not claim to truly know forgiveness… perhaps such an ability requires transcendence.

Though I perhaps engage in relatively less acts of vengeance externally I will often perpetuate suffering with endless ruminations… these ruminations affect my emotions… which then effect the collective.

Yet I hold hope… a hope which is growing… that I will find forgiveness… That we all will hold forgiveness.

Perhaps this is what Jesus was saying… (I hold gratitude for the teachings of all religions)… perhaps the greatest suffering known to life is the death of that life. In forgiving those who would take your very life perhaps you move the collective towards compassion universal… peace… balance. In the moments of his suffering he called for forgiveness though he had followers enough to suggest vengeance – or some other act of suffering.

Holding the energy obtained from empathizing with suffering is extraordinarily heavy and perhaps doing so leads many people in the helping professions to ironically develop dissociation, rationalization and avoidance tendencies

I maintain that I will hold the suffering with hope and let the compassionate path of my breath take me closer to forgiveness.

In order to forgive the suffering sometimes you need to find that suffering first… In my experience the breath can take you there…

If you can love one thing you can love all things…


William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

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