“If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights when you return forgiveness for attack. But you are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed. (T638)”
1 – Distress Rests on Error
The most memorable part of this passage is the phrase, “distress that rests on error.” If this phrase is remembered, we will have a ready remark to call to mind if arguments happen in our environment. We will then be more willing to take a timeout, and to begin the process of forgiving the lamentable encounter.
2 – Pardon Is Fully Justified
This passage notes that pardon is fully justified. This, regardless of how many times we reread the Course, may still be a sticking point. Yet the bottom line is the dream, the “maya.” Our brother has merely made errors, mistakes, and he, like us, deserves forgiveness for the poorest choices. We are said to have “sinned” in time, but we live in eternity, where we are innocent (ACIM tenets). If this is not fully comprehended, it is our failure yet to adopt for ourselves the most basic of the tenets of A Course in Miracles.
3 – Forgive Insanity
“Forgiveness is the only sane response.” Of course! We need the sanity of the Course, because our brother’s poorest choices have come out of insanity. No one will find insanity hard to forgive.
I would rest in the thought that much that I observe that is negative is because my brother and sister are in distress. And not only in distress, but actually living in an illusory world that is lost in insanity. We who desire to share salvation need only to recognize that we and they are in pain. A person who is insane is said to have diminished responsibility, and this characterization is true for the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in this world. Nobody has to be locked up to be insane, in the interpretation of ACIM.
Be with me when I see insanity and fail to recognize the distress that prompted the poor behavior. And may I forgive myself for my poor behavior over my lifetime. May we all forgive not only our brothers and sisters, but also ourselves.
You have not condemned me when in eternity I have made mistakes. Help me not to condemn myself. May I just pick myself up and try to be a little kinder the next day.