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The Greatest Gift of All

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Forgiveness. The most precious of gifts. And, in today’s society, one of the hardest to come by.

I’m not sure how it happened, but it seems, to me, that our world has accepted a “one and done” mentality. It can often be overwhelming to think about how one small thing can punish you for the rest of your life.

Scenario: you take a job you are not entirely sure you are cut out for. You work for a few months, telling yourself it will get better. You will get the hang of it eventually. But your employer is not interested in “eventually”; he needs results now. You are dismissed. Now you are out of work and need to restart your job search. You send out a couple of resumes, but a few interested parties require an online application as well. Oh, sure, you think, no harm in that. But an online application can be very unsympathetic. The questionnaire demands, “Why did you leave your last job?” There’s no option in a drop-down menu for “I was let go because I was unqualified for that job, but my boss was very understanding and I swear I can do this one”. So you must choose: resigned, laid off, terminated. Because you are an honest individual, you select “terminated”, even though you believe that that doesn’t fully explain your side of the story. You can always expand on your experience in the interview, right? Well, that is, if you can land an interview.

But you better believe that there are a number of applicants without a “terminated” designation weighing on their shoulders. Will the potential employer grant you an interview? Maybe. Would you have a better chance of landing said interview if you cut relations with your previous employer on your own terms? You better believe it.

Because what that “termination” label does is invite doubt into the mind of the hirer.

Why dwell on the past? Obviously that job did not work out. Does the reason need to be public knowledge? Why not grant the applicant the job purely based on upsides and talents than withhold the job due to past failures and doubts? This is because the root of our society now lies in the undeletable.

We have become a society that relies on permanent records and employment histories. We have become a society that looks for something wrong, rather than something right. And this causes potentially unbearable stress to some, and leads to drastic actions in others.

Some people may be able to rise to the occasion and commit no wrongdoings, make no mistakes their entire lives. But in reality, this is an impossibly high standard. We are all human. And that is so important to remember.

Few people strive to relive the feeling of self-disappointment that you get when you don’t live up to your own standards. Failing yourself is hard enough mentally. Even without provocation, I am led to believe that people will learn from their mistakes and do whatever it takes to keep from repeating them. So why all the outside punishment?

Sure, sometimes mistakes are more than saying the wrong thing, or being less productive than you should be. And mistakes of a certain degree should be punished, because some mistakes don’t need to be committed for you to understand they are wrong. But even then, these mistakes do not need to be punished forever.

When one commits a crime, serves jail time, and is released, hasn’t he/she paid for the mistake? That is the whole idea of the law. Those who cannot stay within the set boundaries of the law are made to learn their lesson. How can we as a society say that someone who has served for his mistake is still not reformed? What gives us the right to judge that person?

Should past mistakes prevent someone from getting a job in the future? Should people be forced to relive every detail of things that they probably regret in order to obtain something that, in all honesty, most likely has nothing to do with these past blunders?

No, they shouldn’t. Because if we keep these people who have made mistakes from reentering society as an equal by holding them accountable for past crimes and mistakes forever, they may never be able to get back to a status they desire. And if this leads to, say, the impossibility of obtaining a respectable job, there is nothing keeping them from reverting to old practices and old mistakes, even if they don’t want to. Even the strongest individual can’t forever strive for the acceptance of a society that refuses to give him a second look.

If no one has faith in you, it is difficult to have faith in yourself.

So, I challenge you to examine your life and forgive someone for something he has done. Maybe it is even you. It may be for something big; it may be for something small. It is not the scale of the act that matters, but the act itself.

For if we can choose to forgive others, to accept that others make mistakes, to accept that others are also merely human, then we can start to heal. We can start to have faith in ourselves. We can stop being afraid of accidentally reaching too far, and start living to our full potential. We can start healing ourselves, and our society.

But it is impossible to heal if we don’t first admit we are broken.

And we can admit that we have imperfections, and it is okay to make mistakes. It is bound to happen. And I forgive you for them.

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