Forgiveness, Blame, and Guilt

by Dan Walsh

Sometime ago a woman in a Mercedes┬áslammed on her brakes and I crashed into her car while riding my bike to work. I wasn’t hurt, and she was apologetic, but my mind has been steadily trying to dissect the nature of guilt, blame, and forgiveness ever since.

Was she at fault?

Am I to blame?

Did we both do something wrong?

One morning, my subconscious decided to finally give me the answer in the following sermon. I’ve tried to clean it up a bit, but after about two weeks of attempting to flush it out into a well-honed essay, the original messy paragraph is still the best.

“Sometimes bad things happen to us that are not our fault. But by blaming – by not taking responsibility for what comes next and how we move on – we continue to abdicate power to that thing or person that caused us harm. This negative thing happened in the past, but blame continues to affect us in the future. By knowing this, we lift the burden of deciding who we should or should not forgive. We cannot hold grudges because we do not want to give away our power. Especially to someone who’s done us harm. By default, everyone should be forgiven regardless of offense because we are stronger for it.”

I apologize if the above sounds preachy, but those are more or less the words as they tumbled out of my mouth.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if I was at fault or if the woman in the Mercedes was to blame. If I don’t want to get hit by cars while riding my bike, then I should take a route that avoids busy intersections during rush hour.