By Rachel Puryear
Recently, in a Georgia election, we saw a reasonable candidate – thankfully – defeat a very toxic and hateful one.
The hateful candidate had lived a documented life of perpetrating domestic violence, assault with deadly weapons, terrorizing his partner and children, and being an all-around hypocrite regarding his extreme views.
This post isn’t really about the hateful candidate – but it is about redemption, or the lack thereof.
This hateful candidate had too much public evidence against him to deny the things he had done, so he instead tried another strategy – claiming he had since been redeemed. “By God,” that is.
This raises interesting questions about redemption, and what it takes for a person to redeem themselves after cruel behavior which has hurt others, and made the world a more dangerous place. The hateful candidate is just one of so many people out there like himself, so let’s move on to discussing the subject of redemption more generally.
First, to be clear, I absolutely do believe in redemption for people, sometimes. To a certain extent, the theme of redemption touches all of our lives.
Redemption and forgiveness are also important themes in many spiritual traditions. Pursuing redemption requires a great deal of humility, and efforts to empathize with others. This offers a great opportunity for genuine spiritual growth.
However, before someone who has deeply wronged others has any business claiming their own redemption, they must first show the work they’ve put in towards that. They must show the sacrifices they’ve made, what restitution they’ve made to those they’ve harmed and given back to the world at large, what they’ve done to help heal the harm they’ve caused, and to also prevent others from also causing the kind of harm they did.
Someone who has done none of that, not even one bit, and who continues to bring about harm; cannot just simply claim redemption because it’s convenient for them, and call it a day.
Claiming oneself automatically redeemed “by God,” without any work or critical self-examination first, is the opposite of humility and reflects a dearth of empathy for everyone one has harmed.
In fact, one should perhaps not even claim that they themselves are redeemed, and instead it should be something they work to earn a chance to have others say about them.
When someone goes around being needlessly harmful and cruel to others, the people they’ve unjustly hurt get to decide when they are redeemed – not the harmful person themselves.
Someone who has lived a lifetime of violence, hatred, and abusing and terrorizing their loved ones – and then publicly espouses fascist views, exploiting common bigotries in order to seek more power and riches for themselves; and not only has done nothing to apologize or make restitution for any harm they’ve caused, or even acknowledge the extent of that harm; and who not only doesn’t try to be a better person, but even encourages the worst in other people, too; is not the least bit redeemed.
How dare such a person so casually claim “redemption”. The hateful candidate is a famous example, but there are everyday people just like him in all segments of society. People who feel that redemption is something they are entitled to, rather than an obligation to work for, and to earn by finally putting others before themselves.
A person can be redeemed. But that comes only after they’ve done the requisite work – and not before.
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Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to working towards and truly earning redemption and forgiveness where appropriate. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo
Check out my other blog, too – Free Range Life, at https://freerangelife.net. It’s about road trips, parks and cool places to see, van and RV life, working remotely, and occasional legal and financial commentary (I’m a retired professional).
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