Day 178, FOPAL, Luskin

Wednesday, 5/29/2019

After a run in the morning I went to FOPAL about noon and worked through 4:30.

In the morning and again in the afternoon, a chap at CH was asking if anyone had a slide projector; he’d recently been handed a collection of 50-year-old slides and wanted to look at them. I did, so I told him I’d bring mine over.

I wanted to attend a lecture by Fred Luskin scheduled for 7pm, so I drove over about 6:15. I set the projector by my chair as I ate, and shortly Harry introduced himself and took the projector.

Luskin is the director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. I was aware of this, having written about it in the first version of my book. His main point on this night was how easy it is to demonize the other, to “see all the bad on that side”, and how important it is, for personal contentment as well as for the good of society, to change your attitudes.

What I was thinking during the talk was how difficult that change can be. To demonize, to “see all the bad in the other” is a tempting posture. It relieves stress, because it removes ambiguity. Ambiguity is stressful and upsetting, and we all like to avoid it. But forgiveness means allowing the possibility of good will, and even good arguments, to the other side, whatever the other side might be for you. It means embracing ambiguity, not resolving it. In addition, a point Luskin didn’t make, there are people and powerful organizations who benefit from persuading you to demonize. That’s how you get people to contribute, to vote, to volunteer, and to fight. I’m not criticizing him for not making that point, because his intent was to teach personal practices that make forgiveness easier.



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