My generation grew up playing Monopoly the board game, and one of the most coveted cards you could draw was “the get out of jail free card.” It occurred to me this weekend that death shares in some ways the very same concept. A lot of people are willing to give a complete pass to someone who they have held to the proverbial stake for most of their lives when they are faced with the offender’s impending demise. Many hold onto their grudges right up to the actual demise, and then there are the ones who carry their vendettas straight to their own death beds. Some hold onto their grudges right into their own graves.
We are nothing if not complicated souls, but this weekend in particular I did a great deal of thinking about what motivates us to give someone “the get out of jail free card.” I came up with a few thoughts, the first was that maybe the person holding the life-long grudge decides that the offender’s death is enough of a punishment. Another thought was that maybe religious beliefs required some to issue forgiveness in order to receive forgiveness for their own mistakes they’ve made in their lives. Maybe they are simply exhausted from the weight of carrying so much anger for such a long time. Worst yet maybe they realized that what they had believed to be the terrible tragic event that was inflicted upon them was actually not what had happened!
In any case the one thought that rang through my mind like a raging bell was how awful it is that we become so invested in persecuting someone, that we become our own jail keeper in life. We nurture our anger to a point where we become consumed. We actually prolong the damage that someone has (in most cases has unintentionally), or is even unaware that they have inflicted upon us. Maybe we become so consumed that our own perspective becomes distorted. How awful would it be to spend a lifetime locked in our own self-made prison? How awful would it be to unknowingly have been the offender in someone else’s life story? Maybe we should be more generous in our perceptions about offenses we feel have been committed towards us? Maybe we should actually communicate our perceptions, and feelings to those who obviously impact our lives in such a great way before a life-time passes us by… 😉