Again, a post written two weeks ago, only now being posted:
A friend of mine, years ago, going through a divorce from their (very liberal, right-thinking) ministerial spouse, once mused that while the spouse loved humanity, it was people in specific that this spouse could not stand.
I reminded of this as I watch the (near-adult) child of a dear friend go through hell. This child, who I have known for years, is a good person. But this good person did something wrong. There was (minor) injury to another. But the child's community of peers has judged, and found this near-adult child wrong. The situation has a lot of she-said/she-said, and it is not clear where the exact truth lies. Yet, the peers of this child have piled on, saying things like "I cannot possibly be friends with someone who has done what you have done" and "until you admit your sins, and truly repent, I can only turn you into the police". (note this was not a police-actionable deed, and let me add that race was not an issue). There was much public shaming and harassment and the near-adult child is devastated and left college
I am sad that these young people, the friends of the child, the lover of the child, have drawn this line so stringently, so harshly. No peer has stopped and asked to hear the child's side of the story. The lover of the child has said "I need to let you go so we both can move on". No peer has said "yes, this was bad, but I love you anyway".
The question of when you forgive someone, when your love and relationship is more important than a single deed, is not necessarily black and white. There are things one may not or cannot forgive: rape, murder, torture. But smaller transgressions? There needs to be room for a person to say "I did this wrong thing, and I am sorry" in the company of friend who will say "I love you, especially for saying this". Part of the problem comes where you draw the line between unforgiveable and forgivable. Young people, in my perception, often have more trouble with that line.
If I have learned anything, walking this earth for as long as I have, it is that I can be wrong. That my judgements, my clear-eyed views of the truth are often more cloudy than I know, at the time, even now. That sometimes caring for a person, even a person with a history of not caring for you, is not just an objective good thing, but something that makes me better in more ways than I know.
My hope is that these young people, years from now, maybe only months, will look back, if not in shame, at least in a larger understanding of their standards for love and friendship and support. My hope is that the young person, the child, will not be so injured as to turn around and do this to others.
S'hana Tovah, to my Jewish brothers and sisters, to my brothers and sisters of all faiths, and to my brothers and sisters who profess no (organized or otherwise) faith. May everyone have a friend that stands by you in time of need.