Understanding and Forgiveness

There’s a part in Enders Game where he’s explaining how he is able to win every one of his fights. He says that he understands his opponents, not in the shallow way we normally understand people. No, he see’s them as they see themselves, in the deep down to the core way; in the kind of way that makes you love them. This is elaborated much better in the sequel, Speaker for the Dead, when he is tasked with doing a sort of eulogy for a man who wasn’t very kind. He doesn’t ignore the bad parts of the man’s life, as we are so often prone to do when someone dies. Instead, Ender tackles the core of why this man was the way he was. The things that drove him, the flaws that he was making up for, etc. It works; it’s touching and yet still honest to the life lived.

I’m not a fan of Orson Scott Card, he sounds like a real dick as a person, outside of his writings. His crappy opinions on anyone who isn’t straight and christian only occasionally bled through into the Ender series, so I still really like it. The theme of unlimited compassion that Ender represents is a very great message. That idea, that if you really fully understand someone you can’t help but love them, I think that’s very true. (As with all things there are exceptions though; exceptionally evil people to be exact) I’ve met many people who do bad things to others. Most of the time I either don’t get to learn more about them or I choose not to because I just don’t care to. On the occasions where I have gotten to see a deeper level of them, I’ve seen what Ender was talking about. We’re all very vulnerable deep down, it’s what drives our more passionate actions. In some it will drive them to make the world better, others seek to make it as bad as they feel. Childhood has profound effects on our adult lives and this is a time when you have no control over your life.

This never excuses immoral behaviour. Full stop, no excuse. What the perspective can give you is compassion for a bad person, which is not equivalent to forgiveness. We should have compassion for all people.

In a weirdly circular fashion this idea has impacted my view of love. Reaching this level of understanding of someone else, getting down into the core of why they do what they do, that’s how I define love. That isn’t the extent of what I think of love is, I’d say it has more of a gradient. There’s multiple depths to love. Day to day when I refer to love, I mean that understanding plus a deep trust that we will look out for each other. This one is closer to what is commonly used when discussing platonic love I think. And a third type of love, when you want to bond with another person, sacrificing some of your individuality. Marriage is the societal norm of this, but it by no means has to be sexual or between only two people. It’s intense and difficult and rare.

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