Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I just took this picture and think it is a bit of a sign for me. You see, in addition to all the other drama going on I have had issues with my landlord. Truly I cannot recall feeling such animosity towards another person as I do her. It might be because of the lies or the electrical problems or imagining being stuck here on the mountain with my diabetic kid in bad weather -- I could go on and on but suffice it to say that I do not have warm, fuzzy feelings towards her.

I just sent her a rather pointed letter letting her know the three things she has to do by June 15 to avoid litigation: 1. Document that the electrical system has inspected and is up to Code; 2. stop telling potential tenants lies about the access to the house in bad weather (Galen sits in on these conversations with the poor, unsuspecting people who are looking at the house); 3. return my entire $1975.00 deposit. It was one of those very direct letters that I am rather famous for -- if you need such a letter, I am your person (I sent one to the oil change place also). It is probably not a skill one should be proud of but we have to celebrate our talents where we find them I suppose ;)

Anyway, back to the picture. In spite of the fact that the cat tried to kill her mother, Sydney sleeps peacefully with Karma...hmmmm... Apparently Sydney knows how to forgive and move on. This made me think of a question that I have reflected on for years -- is it possible to forgive someone who is not sorry? Did Karma apologize and is that why Sydney can so nicely co-exist with the ungrateful would-be murderer? Or does Sydney possess the ability to simply not see past wrongdoing and therefore can offer unconditional positive regard just because Karma exists (and she is darn lucky she does!)?

How do we balance justice and forgiveness? If I walk away without a fight, will the next tenant be injured more than I was? What if I read about the house burning down with a family in it -- how could I live with myself knowing that I had not tried to make a difference?

But how does one balance that burning desire for revenge with an honest and good desire to cause change? And how does one fight for good without feeling soiled by the battle?

I do not know any of the answers actually but somehow a sleeping puppy and a cuddly cat made me think about these things, and ponder whether I can be as forgiving, and whether my ability to forgive depends on another person's willingness to be sorry and/or admit wrongdoing. It seems as if forgiveness should not be conditional -- but someplace in all that is justice, and it seems important to be willing to stand up for things that matter to us. Can we forgive -- and do battle?

This is what I do when I am tired of writing exams -- take pictures and think too much :) However, I do not think you will find me cuddling up with the landlord anytime soon -- as much as I would like to think of myself as a forgiving person. I recognize that there is much I can learn from my dogs about being a better person...

What do you think that picture means? And can we forgive without an admission of wrongdoing? Finally, what is the relationship between justice and forgiveness? Those are your exam questions ;)


  1. Mary-Ann,

    You probably weren't really looking for an answer to one of your questions, but an answer immediately popped in to my head :) Can we forgive without the admission of wrongdoing? YES!!! We can choose to forgive, it certainly doesn't mean we have to forget and we can do our very best to stop the person from harming another in the way we were harmed; but unless we forgive we can be eaten up by the anger and hurt feelings. I hope you are having a WONDERFUL day, enjoying some wild flowers, maybe a bit of tracking with Cadi - it's spring time in Alaska and we're loving the flowers too!

  2. Mary-Ann, I grapple with many of these questions, particularly in regard to a non-repentant former husband. My 8th grade daughter is reading Simon Wiesenthal's book "The Sunflower," a truly fascinating treatise on forgiveness, which I highly recommend. We've been having deep conversations about forgiveness and I am reading it now, too. (Of course she does not know that the person I cannot seem to forgive is her father, we are speaking in generalities.)

  3. You crack me up!! Your question about forgiveness is so nicely answered in your own writings: you wonder if Sydney can offer unconditional positive regard just because Karma exists; change the capital K of Karma to the little k of karma, and to me the answer becomes obvious. This is much like Carrie's comment - what goes around comes around, like a tether ball, so best be sure you always put your finest foot forward! Which is not to say you've not had WAY more than your share of challenges lately!

  4. I have no idea why my (Joan) comment posted with my husband's name (pradip)!!

  5. I've been reading bell hooks lately, and this quote has stuck with me:

    "For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?” ~ bell hooks

    I find this to be a very challenging place to be at times, holding both of these tensions at the same time. I can really relate to the anger and betrayal you must be feeling from your landlord"s irresponsible and unethical behavior. Especially, when you consider the impact it has on you and possibly others. We will send good thoughts for a "smooth and stress-free" house closing . . .

    Liz, Sam, Kiko, & Tara