The forgotten role of judgment in forgiveness

Donald Trump Forgiveness

Clueless reporters who haven’t tried to think of real questions keep asking various Republicans if they can “forgive” Donald Trump for this misstatement, this action or the latest transgression, real or alleged.

The responses from Republicans have been equally clueless. If you are amazed why the Republican Party is in the moral cesspool now evident to the nation, listen to these responses. No wonder Republicans lose elections! You won’t inspire anyone to vote for you when you either don’t understand basic morality, or can’t articulate it. But the responsibility for that lies with us, because we elected them!

When was the last time you heard anyone explain the role of contrition as a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite to forgiveness? Me neither.

Forgiveness is neither a virtue nor something to which its recipient is entitled. We are told forgiveness is a matter of grace, almost as if the burden is on us to grant it. The exhortation to forgive actually derives from the admonitions against vengeance, retribution, and grudge-holding. Yet, no one explores whether those emotions are sometimes rational, legitimate, or even required in our duty to protect ourselves and others from future harm.

And lest you think this is contrary to your faith — and we lesser beings are not allowed to do that, unlike our would-be leaders — take comfort that the major religions of the West are about faith and understanding. Classic Christianity (but not necessarily all of its adherents) is a rational faith which eschews slavish obedience and encourages inquiry to achieve understanding.

Likewise, when was the last time you heard anyone mention whether the person we’re told to forgive actually deserves it? It’s as if the unspoken duty is to forgive unconditionally and uncritically. Taken to its logical conclusion, that means we would be erring by exercising any judgment. It also supports an even worse inference: we are morally inferior to the transgressor, for he/she is entitled to our forgiveness but we are not permitted to ever ask whether the forgiveness is earned. Looking at current events, does this start to sound familiar?

Current secular society has turned forgiveness backwards to disparage anyone who exercises the required good judgment in refusing to grant it automatically – or even before the transgression occurs.

Forgiveness is not meant to be a substitute for good judgment, and many who profess to forgive are actually being inconsiderate by failing to use good judgment. That, my friends, is a shirking of duty, an abdication of responsibility, an act of disloyalty to everyone else. But, it is so in keeping with the current meaning of freedom being the freedom from responsibility.

A strong people will not be preoccupied with the approval-seeking or license from others. A strong people does not hesitate to inquire, to judge, and then to act.

Americans are afraid to cast the eyes of intellectually sound judgment at anyone or anything, lest we be deemed to be in the wrong, and in that case — in irony — undeserving of the same forgiveness we are urged to dispense liberally. We are showing our weakness in so many ways.

Our candidates recognize and exploit that weakness.

And you can be sure, so do America’s enemies.

Eric Dixon

Eric Dixon is a conservative lawyer, campaign strategist and blockchain technology innovator. He has been an election lawyer and delegate candidate for the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Steve Forbes, and has successfully represented media organizations including National Review in lawsuits against the government. A Yale Law School graduate, Mr. Dixon is headquartered out of New York and represents companies, entrepreneurs and investors on financing, corporate governance and regulatory compliance issues. Mr. Dixon is also a former radio talk show host, think tank research director and has completed thirteen marathons.