Following the Lead of President Obama: Anger and the Value of Forgiveness

After the murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina many of the family members came forward to say that they had forgiven the shooter. One family member said that she forgave the shooter because she didn't want to live her life in anger. I don't see how it would be possible for any of the family members to be able to forget the loss they had experienced and who it was that caused the loss but by forgiving the murderer they took away his capacity to continue to destroy them.

Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have anger at the root of their campaign. They are angry a various groups of people and they are seeking revenge. They are both against someone or something and they are looking to blame someone or something. They are locked in antagonism. The subject of their antagonism is likely in order to protect themselves to want to strike back and therefore what comes out of this approach is a kind of perpetual war that goes nowhere and does nothing to move us forward.

The pain that has been created out of actions from the past continues to remain unless it is adequately addressed. The pain of the past will continue to exist until there is the necessary justice that will create healing. If we try to pretend the unhealed pain from the past no longer exists by numbing ourselves or disassociating from it or creating an illusion around it the pain from the past which is still alive in the present it will just hide in the darkness like an infection where it will have the opportunity to fester and grow.

There are plenty of reasons for anger of all kinds. That is not the issue. The issue is what is our response to this emotion. Do we use it to fuel revenge or do we use it to fuel change. Revenge is not justice, it just keeps us stuck in the past. It is possible to utilize the potent energy that has been stirred up from the pain from the past creatively. It is possible to use emotions that might have the potential to be destructive and instead redirect them creatively towards a kind of justice that would be able to heal the wounds from the past.

Starting with President Obama's first day in office members of the GOP got together to setup a strategy of complete obstruction to everything that the President would want to accomplish. There were many on the left who wanted to see the men of money prosecuted along with the previous President and his Vice President. They wanted revenge. Throughout the whole of his Presidency President Obama has had to deal with little support and a great deal of antagonism.

President Obama is an intelligent and perceptive man. It's quite obvious that he has been aware of all of this. The President is also shown himself to have deep feelings and he has often acted and spoken in a way that would indicate that he has an open heart. It would be easy to assume that this state of affairs has been painful to him. It might be easy to think that this might have caused him to become angry and to possibly seek revenge and yet there does not appear to be evidence that this has taken place.

President Obama has been able to resist reacting to any feelings of personal anger and revenge he might be feeling.  He has taken the energy from that and utilized that energy to find creative solutions that would move us towards justice. He has been able to find ways to move us towards the healing of the pain of the past. President Obama has been an example of how to use anger creatively. This is why he has been successful not only as a legislator but he has also been an example as a human being. I think it would be wise for us as individuals and for all of us as a country to follow the lead of President Obama and to understand the potential of the value of forgiveness.



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