People often say that in order to move on, to proceed with our lives and to get to where we want to be, we must forgive the wrongs done to us. By other people, yes. It is said that by forgiving the person, without necessarily condoning or forgetting the cruel deed or mean act, we give ourselves the leave to sail forth forward, to row gently and energetically on top of the waves and on to the port of our dreams. The advice is usually dispensed with a view to our well-being and of course, the giver normally means well.
But we know too well that we are encumbered and in a quandary, in fact. The headaches, the stress and the heartaches that come from being wronged by another person, naturally go away over time, we have proven this from many encounters. People come into and go away from our lives – some dare and succeed to ruffle it, some cause some ripples or creases but for most, all they manage is a little irritation, no more and no less. Unless, of course, the wrongdoing involves considerable damage to our public image, the welfare of our loved ones or a huge amount of money, exceptions that commonly fall under the topic of revenge.
For the greater part, very few can claim to have touched us – negatively or positively. We have developed our immunity to pain and pleasure to the level that we no longer succumb to the little pressures that come our way on hourly and daily bases. We have adapted to our environments – we have scales, horns and little pouches of pollen that we sprinkle, across the enemies who dare cross our territories, closer than what we allow or want. We have evolved. Maybe, a little against our natural inclinations or against our better judgments, but we have. Credits possibly go to our language capabilities, our creativity and that survival skill that we hardly recognize anymore but is, somehow, still there. And, we’re lucky. A little bored, maybe. But lucky, just the same.
And so, it seems we are no longer affected. Or, that, we are not easily affected. By the wrong things done to us, as I said earlier. We think things out a bit, we frown some and then, we shrug our shoulders. No use crying over spilt milk, we often say. No use going over what is obviously concluded. No use belaboring something that has clearly passed. We care not to remember. We have buried our retrieval skills. We only use it for special occasions – a work or an assignment, an unconventional project or a life-threatening circumstance. Otherwise, we put it in the back burner or in the attic or in the corner of the garage, for claiming as the need arises.
But we always cross our fingers that the need will not come forward. It’s too costly when it does and likewise, too taxing to go up the attic or to go past the dusts in the garage. The back burner, on the other hand, takes some time negotiating – too much information and concerns lodged in there. Let the sleeping dogs lie, we have coined that expression. We can take in a few more lies, to put it another way.
To go back to the forgiving part… Do we find it easier to forgive nowadays that we have honed our forgetting skills to a rather high degree? Are we a little more for-the-others type of persons, human beings? We can forget more, we can forgive more and so, we care more? Does that tally? Do they all add up nicely? Or, maybe, we need not go into that? What is important is we do not go the length or the trouble of hurting people back. We ignore the bruises and the cuts instead. And, by so doing, we hope to avoid possible bruises that are meant our way, from those we may have hurt or cut likewise, incidentally or otherwise. Mutual forgiveness. It is a modern phenomenon, perhaps. Care to let things slide and same will be done unto you. We dodge the ball, quite often.
Accountability, a rather old word. Heavy. Alas, it is the more weighty formulation of the word responsibility. We rarely take each other to task anymore, to make an accounting of something that has been done awry or wayward or plain bad, to render oneself accountable to his fellows for his acts or speech or promises. Acts can be forgotten(easy), words can be ignored(peanuts) and promises can be broken (not the first time), we say. The world has turned too complicated, living has spun too fast and multitudes of information cascade unto our lives by the minute. Accountability might as well find itself by the wayside, under the deep or on the wreckage pile. It’s quite possible.
We now forgive easily and we move on fast – on to the next interaction, new engagement and new distractions of our fast-moving lives. The constant demands on our daily routines seem to take all of our energy, attention and will power. We have no time for trifles, we say. Or, for things that make our noses and ears bleed. We have time for trivia, though. We don’t really mind watching inane television shows, highly sensationalized yet unverified news and we constantly hunger for the two or three lines bit updates on the goings-on in the lives of the celebrities and public figures. We now like things in a capsule – small, manageable and chewable bits that could be accessed and taken in, anytime, anyplace. And we take them for true on their face values.
It’s modern times and really, we have no time to ponder on the veracity or logic of the information fed to us via gazillion bytes. We assume that somebody knowledgeable has sorted and filtered them for us. And, we carry the same attitude in our dealings with real, live and up close people. We ask them to tell it straight and short, as in the news. We hardly listen to their stories and they rarely tell us any, anyway. Instead, we are all supposed and expected to link to each and one another online, via the different platforms called social networking and, to put and get our personal updates and ruminations there. And we suppose that things will work as before, fare well and tick as usual.
Things that appear to be lengthy and difficult, we easily dub as “issues,” requiring thinking, analysis and time. And often, we say that we have very little of those anymore. We shun discussions, we ignore plenty of details and we avoid conflicts – even the small, negotiable ones. We would rather that they are left to the experts or to the investigative journalists or that they are played out in the reality shows – our own, small and insignificant lives reflected on television. And we watch with curiosity and forbearance as other people act out our lives for us – dissected before the public’s unforgiving eyes and opinions. And, I guess, we’re a little bit comforted that in the distant somewhere, some people are struggling and suffering and being happy with little, as we are.
These new, convenient and handy gadgets, platforms and new format television shows all seem to ask us to take the fast and public ride, teaching us how to do things through their features and applications – download two dozen music here, upload 1000 pics here and put all our childhood musings here. They are guaranteed to be easy, free and allows one to exercise his or her independence, to the highest level. And people – we like free and easy and we are glad of the socialization opportunities these new things extend us. We feel linked, sociable and connected. And yet, the promises of nearness, privacy and being connected do not seem to deliver and often we sorely feel the remoteness, the intrusive publicity and the distance of our interactions, for some reason… Somehow, we feel that we are leaving things and people behind and we grasp for the ephemeral events almost helpless.
It is the time of and for the interactive, all these digital and media platforms proclaim. But they seem to have forgotten to remind us that our capacities as individuals to go online, digital and public are not at the same level, not at all synchronized and not sharpened to the same degrees. Time and again, many people have sworn by the superiority and the efficacy of the personal, live interactions over the more modern though merely representative, impersonal ones. And yet, for the greater part, across continents and cities, we have acquiesced to the trend, joined the wagon and said out loud that the hoopla simply cannot be avoided. We would rather participate in the chase, to leave and go on ahead rather than to be left behind by the times.
Along with the new technologies, we have subscribed to the brand new beliefs and the speedy phase of life. We forgive easily nowadays, we’re rolling fast even as we’re not measuring the distance… Are we letting ourselves off too easily, one blog I read dared to ask. Are we successful in desensitizing ourselves, so far? The statistics we come across by the hours far outdo our capacity to remember, to react genuinely and to sympathize with our fellows. As more news of misery reach our ears, we are learning better and better how to privatize our woes. As more news of greatness flash on our screens, we come to accept that the victors are farther and farther from us. We learn each day that world, public events are accelerating faster and farther and the most we can do is follow up on the latest Yahoo news. Or, get updates on Twitter, if one has an account.
Have we handed our capacity to feel for ourselves to other people? Can we still formulate our own opinions? Do we have to, in the first place? Or, do the authorities and the experts have it all pat and easy for us? Maybe, we need not do a thing, anymore. We just have to access – join, watch, listen and then leave the moment things get boring or repetitious. No one is asking anybody to believe anymore. Everyone is simply enjoined, no coercion or strong words there. Or, at least, that is how things appear to be these days. You want things summed up or aggregated? There are sites that do that, one simply has to go there. You want things creative, personalized and nuanced, go and read blogs. You want things short and crispy? There’s Twitter. You want something really original and DIY, why there’s Pinterest. One could hardly complain about lack, most everything have been laid out, customized and dandy.
And, probably, one only needs to decide which button it is going to be today. Or, at this hour. We want to reach out to others, true. We want to be reached by the others, too. These are basic human sentiments, needs even. But we seem to have forgotten how. Is it because we have gradually taken to remembering as few things as possible, forgetting as many instances as possible and forgiving other people and ourselves long before apologies are actually asked? Is it because we have forgotten as well that when we forgive others, it is actually ourselves that we are forgiving – for the bad deeds, for the nasty thoughts and for the negligence – that part of us that we find in other people, uncannily and yet verily, the part that reflects our very own. And when we say that we let things slide easily these days, good or bad, is it not part of our own selves that we are abandoning, little by little?