Thursday, October 27, 2011
Hugging The Cactus: Where Forgiveness Begins
Robert Downey Jr on behalf of Mel Gibson
Is this how you approach life? When things go wrong, do you take responsibility? Have you "embraced that part of your soul that is ugly"? I have found that when I do, I am more at peace. Perhaps not in the immediate, but in the long term.
More often than I would like, it is a challenge to say those 3 little words... "I was wrong." I know this is difficult for me to say, but also shocking to others to hear. I have engaged in conversations with students where I have muttered, stated, and confessed that oh so difficult message. What have I been met with? Shock, mostly. It is so contrary to the way we live. Expressing perfection, never waivering on being right... This is the American way. Right? In most interactions with students, I have the authority and power. Why would I chose to lower myself by admitting I was wrong? Well, maybe because it was the right thing to do...
I once had a meeting with a chapter president who shared with me his experience of being told by his chapter that his attitude was off. Members had told him that he had been rude and ill tempered in running a specific meeting. They told him that he had been impatient and mean spirited. I was expecting his next sentence to be one of indignation - one crying out, "They don't appreciate me." Instead, he told me, "They were right. I was a total %*@$. I remember that meeting and I did everything they accused me of doing." In that moment, he demonstrated to me that he was a man of humility. And, for him, that self-awareness and the ability to recognize that he was wrong allowed him to grow. Or, as Robert Downey, Jr. said it, "...Life would take on new meaning."
Over the last month, the men of Delta Tau Delta have visited our sorority meetings to acknowledge the mistakes they've made in the past and apologize. Honestly, to work to reconcile with the community. Members are in different places in accepting that apology - and that is fine. But, I can't help but be proud of them for trying. This is a real-time example of where forgiveness begins. They have "hugged the cactus", or are trying. This is the beginning of forgiveness and healing. This is where our community shows our mettle. This is where we model for those that don't live the values of fraternity and sorority life what it means to work through challenge and come out strong.