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There are a lot of people who say “I forgive you” when they mean “No harm done”, and a lot of people who say “That was unforgiveable” when they mean “That was genuinely really bad”.
Whether or not forgiveness is right is a complicated topic I do not want to get in here.
I mean, from a utilitarian point of view, you are still doing the correct action of not giving people grief because they’re a divorcee. All I’m saying is that if you “forgive” something you don’t care about, you don’t earn any Virtue Points.
(by way of illustration: a billionaire who gives 0 to charity gets as many Utility Points as an impoverished pensioner who donates the same amount, but the latter gets a lot more Virtue Points) Tolerance is also considered a virtue, but it suffers the same sort of dimished expectations forgiveness does.
Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?
” The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? ” And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them! If I had to define “tolerance” it would be something like “respect and kindness toward members of an outgroup”.
And today we have an almost unprecedented situation.
We have a lot of people – like the Emperor – boasting of being able to tolerate everyone from every outgroup they can imagine, loving the outgroup, writing long paeans to how great the outgroup is, staying up at night fretting that somebody else might not like the outgroup enough. It’s a total reversal of everything we know about human psychology up to this point. No one passed out weird glowing pills in the public schools. There’s a very boring sense in which, assuming the Emperor’s straight, gays are part of his “outgroup” ie a group that he is not a member of.
All the townspeople want to forgive him immediately, and they mock the titular priest for only being willing to give a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection.The good-for-nothing brother killed the beloved nobleman (and stole his identity).Now the townspeople want to see him lynched or burned alive, and it is only the priest who – consistently – offers a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection.He further notes that this is why the townspeople can self-righteously consider themselves more compassionate and forgiving than he is.Actual forgiveness, the kind the priest needs to cultivate to forgive evildoers, is really really hard.