Sunday, December 4, 2016

Justice and Fairness Vs Forgiveness and Charity

To my son Tommy,

We have a dilemma. You see, somewhere in your genetic code, deep down in your core values, we have a strong sense of justice and fairness, which seems to stem from your Grandma Roro's blood line. This not necessarily a bad thing except this sense is hampered by self righteous indignation and the willingness to obsess and hold a grudge and a smug certainty of being right that can hinder forgiveness. All this also from Roro's side, but that means it comes to you from me. Which brings us to our current dilemma

The past week at St Agnes, you had a Santa's Workshop. It is an opportunity to buy your own small gifts  for the special people in your life from some (often crafted) items that were donated to the school fundraiser. The gifts range from $1 to $5 each. Not sure how profitable it is for the school, but it really is a great little idea that promotes so much more than profit. Last year I got the little stocking pictured above. Hey it is the thought that counts!

We sent you in with sixty bucks and a list of twelve people to buy for. You were thrifty and spent $33 on gifts and $1 buck on a raffle for yourself. You came home with your gifts and your sealed change envelope and hid them in your room demanding that we don't look. Today, you went through the gifts and wanted to show me what you had gotten your Godmother Aunt Joanna, a gift you are especially proud of. In the interim, you were also proud of your thrift and pulled out your change envelope. You did the math before you opened it and said, I should have $26 change.

Well you opened it and you were ten bucks short. They only gave you $16 change. I just shrugged. This really bothered you and was a direct affront to the aforementioned sense of justice and fairness. I asked if you checked your change, but you quickly pointed out that you weren't allowed to check your change at school, and this was your first chance. You were/are starting to obsess, You were short changed and someone was going to pay and everyone you talk to from now until then will know about it. That is that other stuff I mentioned before kicking in.

Thankfully, from your Grandpa Leo's side, I have learned to temper my need for immediate restitution that requires the wrong doers to publicly shame themselves with a formal allocution of all their errors and how I am right. I have learned to forgive without pointing out how I was wronged. I have learned to think of the bigger picture, like motivations and final effects. I personally still struggle with this as it seems to be contrary to my deep seeded character flaw of needing to be right, but I keep trying. I fail often, but I do recognize and keep trying.

So this is my opportunity to teach you and it is going to be a difficult lesson. I need to teach you that a mistake was made and it was just that, a mistake, nothing malicious or personal like you probably feel right now. I need to teach you that to make a big deal of this would be petty at best. I need to teach you that occasionally you can let people go on a mistake and there isn't a need to correct everyone, even if you were the one short changed. I need to teach you that the lost $10 is going to the exact place that you were supporting with the other $34 and that everything still works out. I need to teach you that a charitable act can extend well past money. I am not sure I will be able to reach you and we may have to compromise on a simple humble note to your teacher pointing out the error but an agreement to forgive and consider the ten bucks as an extra donation.

Learn and practice forgiveness and charity. Allow those traits to trump your sense of justice and fairness often throughout your life. Silently offer up those times in your life where you end up with the short end of the stick. Offer mercy and forgiveness to those who wrong you, even if you question if they deserve it. Give it to them anyway. For there will come an ultimate day in everyone's life where we stand before Him and ask for His great mercy and His great charity. We are not worthy. But He will give it anyway.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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