Wednesday, 22 January 2020

The Art of Wronging and Righting

Over the past few weeks I have given a lot of thought to wronging  - both from the perspective of the wronger and the wrongee. To wrong someone is to act unjustly or dishonestly towards them. My feeling is that wrongs are seldom done with intention or malice and that it is our perspective that makes a wrong just that.

image from the internet
A couple of weeks ago I was wronged. Strictly speaking, there was no misdeed that took place, there was no malice or intent on the part of the wronger and I could logically reason the whole situation. But emotionally - that is where it hit me. I was hurt. Very hurt.

Of course, time and perspective sorts everything out, but I also had to work through how to move forward and to arrive at some kind of peace in order to interact regularly with the wronger.

As it would happen, a couple of weeks ago I unintentionally wronged a friend. And I didn't even know it until a via-the-grapevine message got back to me. In short, I was standing up for him to get R2200 from our club instead of the R720 that he expected. He took offence because I'd declined payment of the R720 because it was his personal expense but I wanted to give him the R2200 because it was money that he had spent that should have been refunded to him.

As you can see from this, the way in which I wronged him was completely unintentional, unbeknown and totally without malice. But he said nothing and so I didn't even know that I had wronged him. And he remained mad at me for weeks. Even though I have explained my reasoning and apologised to offending him, he is probably still a bit mad at me.

I have fortunately had very few instances where I have been wronged to the extent that I have limited or cut off contact completely with the person. In the two cases that I can recall, I was straight in telling them that I was mad with them and why. It changed our relationship.

These recent wrongs got me thinking about righting - when you are the wronger, how do you make things right and what level of 'forgiveness' can you expect from the wrongee?

I have come to the conclusion that I should treat the wronger the same way that I would expect to be treated if I was in their position. Because, that is what I would want.

That said, it is only possible to move forward and carry on with a healthy interaction if the wronger has acknowledged their wrong (even if the wrong was unintentional), understands the impact that the wrong had, and has apologised for the wrong.

In this light, forgiveness is possible.

On Wiki the definition of forgiveness is "the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence, and overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance".

 I also found this as a comment on forgiveness and it rings true for me: "Forgiveness means letting go of the pain the incident is causing us. We forgive to give ourselves peace of mind, and in hopes that one day someone will return the favour if we ever offend them".

While I wish you no wrong, either on the giving or receiving end, if you find yourself offended or offending, I hope that you'll be able to make right after some thought and a lot of understanding and compassion.

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