And yet suddenly we get an entire group of people who conspicuously promote and defend their outgroups, the outer the better. But if the Emperor has curly hair, are straight-haired people part of his outgroup?If the Emperor’s name starts with the letter ‘A’, are people whose names start with the letter ‘B’ part of his outgroup? I would differentiate between multiple different meanings of outgroup, where one is “a group you are not a part of” and the other is…something stronger.Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?” The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? ” And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them! If I had to define “tolerance” it would be something like “respect and kindness toward members of an outgroup”.
All the townspeople want to forgive him immediately, and they mock the titular priest for only being willing to give a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection.
He further notes that this is why the townspeople can self-righteously consider themselves more compassionate and forgiving than he is.
Actual forgiveness, the kind the priest needs to cultivate to forgive evildoers, is really really hard.
But since forgiveness is generally considered a virtue, and one that many want credit for having, I think it’s fair to say you only earn the right to call yourself ‘forgiving’ if you forgive things that genuinely hurt you.
To borrow Chesterton’s example, if you think divorce is a-ok, then you don’t get to “forgive” people their divorces, you merely ignore them.
The fake forgiveness the townspeople use to forgive the people they like is really easy, so they get to boast not only of their forgiving nature, but of how much nicer they are than those mean old priests who find forgiveness difficult and want penance along with it.