The true meaning of love and forgiveness – a life-value onto-axiological perspective

LK 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you
who hear
I say,

love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.

To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.

For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.

But rather,

love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.

Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Three Sundays ago, after hearing the gospel reading above, it struck me that there was a deeper truth that may have been hidden in plain sight. As is now usually the case, I then applied the life-value framework to discover an interpretation which was fully life-coherently inclusive and comprehensive enough that it allowed me to extricate the true meaning of it all.

The paragraph which was the clincher is as follows:

“To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.

For me at least, this teaching encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of the other in order to find out what it is that aggrieved the other. If we don’t search to find the root cause of their grievances and help to solve them and to be part of their solution, then we are part of the problem. To strike back or withhold clothing that is needed will only be adding insult to injury and would only cause an escalation of the grievances for both concerned. In addition, we should see the continuing physical pain caused by the striking of the other cheek, and the continuing disrobing of the layers of clothing (protection) until we get it right, as a clarion call to solve the social determinants of the hardships that prompted the attack or theft in the first place. Basically, these attention grabbing behaviours are cries for help that represent symptoms of a deeper sickness of society.

From a life-value onto-axiological perspective, what Jesus was pointing to was the system value disorder of his time that had deprived many of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized of the means of life. Interestingly, he points to money, credit, lending and repayment in the teaching, which hints to the root social cause being caused by the money-value system which appears to not increase the wealth for everyone and especially those who need it, but to only recirculate what is already available among the status quo – “If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?”

Having grounded Jesus’ teaching in the ultimate value of them all which is life-value, life-value onto-axiology then provides the anchor to ground us and a compass to steer us in the right direction to discover the true meaning of love and forgiveness that are the two cornerstones of our faith and should be the prime directives of our practice. By life-grounding love and forgiveness in “a good measure,” which is none other than the adequate provisioning and access to the necessities of life, we will be able to reason together the true meaning of the message back then which is still yet unseen and which, once recognized, is very much desperately needed to guide us especially in our time.

So to love is ultimately to provide the necessities of life to those who need them so as to maintain and grow their life capacities to the best of their life capabilities so that they can be expressed and enjoyed in full participation of the provisioning of more life necessities for themselves and others. So love is no longer some vague concept that has many relativistic meanings based on one’s ideology and convenience of reference, but is wholly grounded in the ultimate and absolute provisioning / deprivation of these life necessities. (Please see: Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology | The Primary Axiom of Life Value and the Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision by Prof John McMurtry for further details.)

So then what does forgiveness mean from a life-value frame of reference? If deprivation of access to these life necessities is the social determinant or root cause of the grievance in the first place that prompts one to strike out or to steal, forgiveness must necessarily start with recognition of this fact and steps must be taken to amend or make amends for these social arrears. By acknowledging these less-than-desirable behaviours as symptoms of a systemic disorder, we absolve the victims of these deprivations of their misdeeds by reconceptualizing their maladaptive behaviours as adaptive responses to their life-disabling social and environmental circumstances. And it is only until and unless we have solved the root cause of their grievances, and have helped changed the rules of engagement of the societal system to be fully coherently inclusive and comprehensively taking into account the necessities of life and their sustained provisioning for one and all, then true forgiveness of the other and more importantly, that of ourselves, “will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.”

Having life-grounded the reality of the world in life-valuing love and forgiveness, everything follows automatically. We can now with full confidence begin to reconcile all of our differences firmly based on this life-grounded truth of what true love and forgiveness means, repair all of our damages to Mother Earth and to each other and ourselves, and reform our ideological mind-sets going forward. This we must do, as we now re-base and re-ground all of our rules of engagement anchored and steered using the only framework that is fully coherently inclusive and comprehensive enough to take into account all that there is on earth – from the life support systems of the planet and that of our societies to the universal human life necessities that sustain and maintain all that is of value to thriving livelihoods for our generation and that of all living beings, and for those to come and become.

 Life is the precondition for all that is of value; hence it is of ultimate, paramount value. – Giorgio Baruchello

On Tuesday March 5, 2019, I was pleased to be invited and to be involved in a conversation with two of my mentors Dr. Patrick Martin and Mr. Dwyer Astaphan on the topic of Love and Forgiveness, Truth and Reconciliation, Reparations and Reformation, which was prompted by a discussion we had after church after hearing the gospel reading from above and a possible deeper meaning which I had then some intimations of, but not until now, explicated with full clarity. The conversation, which is just the beginning, of how we can operationalize this epiphany at the local, regional and international level, based on what is Truth, can be listened to here, as clipped form WinnFM’s Operation Rescue programme:

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