I enjoy RSA Animate discussions. Supported by caricature-like sketches, speakers present complex issues in simple and understandable ways.
This morning, I watched a fascinating presentation by Dan Ariely from November 2012, “The truth about dishonesty”. Towards the end of the presentation he gives 3 rationalizations why confession, as practiced in the Catholic church, might work.
One, the thought of having to confess acts as a deterrent. As in, I think about robbing a bank but then I’ll feel icky about myself and even worse, I’ll have to go tell the priest what I did and he’ll think badly of me.
Two, after confession you feel good about yourself and want to hold onto that feeling for a little while longer.
Three, confession allows for a new page to be turned. When we’ve behaved badly, and we all have the capacity to behave badly under the right circumstances says Ariely, confession allows us to wipe the slate clean and begin again. This is particularly true for those who have forgotten they ahve the capacity to do good and adopted the ‘what the hell’ theory of living — I may as well be bad as I’m going to hell anyway. Through confession they are able to ask for forgiveness, make amends and move forward believing once again in their natural goodness.
But what if you’re not the one who did a ‘bad’ thing. What if you’re the one to whom badness happened? What have you got to confess?
Perhaps in those instances it is not confession that creates the space for moving forward but forgiveness.
Holding onto unforgiveness is sticky business. It keeps us swimming in the sea of unease, constantly fighting the current of our natural goodness.
Unforgiveness keeps pain alive.
Forgiveness is like confession. It clears the soul and makes room for our natural goodness to shine.
Beyond forgiving one more time is the space where thoughts of forgiveness no longer arise because in the space where our natural goodness shines, there is no longer any need to forgive.