Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Penance or punishment or consequences - a rose by any other name is still a rose.

i have been thinking... for obvious reasons....about penance / consequences/ punishment. Who is it for?? Who feels better after the penance/punishment is done???

i have decided (in my infinite wisdom) that punishing is really for the wrong doer. The punisher gets nothing from it......... not really.

For instances - if something is stolen from me and the thief is caught - but my property is gone, his saying he is sorry or his being fired or even his going to jail does nothing to make me feel better. My property is gone... no more.

What if someone hurts me.......... hurts my feelings... or worse my spirit.. and they decide to apologize... do those simple words make the hurt the pain disappear?? nope not at all.. but they feel better and can say i did everything i was supposed to.. i have a clear conscience.

But what about me?? Is the wound gone.. the hurt vanished, the spirit lifted because of an apology. No.

Maybe i am weird...... but honestly i think penance is for the one doing the penance - to make them feel better... i get nothing out of it.

Ok ok..i hear their words, maybe even the emotions they feel for doing such shameful deeds......... i will forgive them (because in my lil world that is what happens - one forgives) but deep down inside do i feel fine?? No...... i have learned a tough lesson... and the lesson i take away from the incident is probably worth more than the penance done.

Am i saying i don't believe people should do penance / take their punishments /own up to their wrongs?? No not at all.... after all it is what i teach my kiddies - "say your sorry" but i always add .... and show you are truly sorry by never doing that again.

Because words are cheap.

Actions speak louder than words

And honour should always win out over dishonour.


  1. Yes, you absolutely are weird. That is a fact known far and wide.

    Of course penance is for the penitent. It is supposed to be instructive - to help the penitent focus and reflect on the misdeed and, hopefully, see the error of their way.

    When someone harms you, criminally, the are prosecuted. It is "The Crown vs ..." or "The State vs...." rather than "VICTIM vs ...." It wasn't the power that be who was harmed.

    Sentences are handed out that are designed to punish, not rehabilitate. Perhaps the victim would feel less like a victim if there was some restitution included in the sentence.

    Personally, I think the value of an apology is highly over rated. I also think forgiveness is often as sincere as the apology - more of a polite society thing.

    And, if you forgive someone and yet still live there - maybe you didn't forgive them.

  2. I do not believe in forgiveness as the way to correct behavior but that is just me. How ever I derive a great deal of pleasure from exacting a punishment or payment from those that error against me.

  3. My personal preference, when I have been wronged, is to hope the process goes beyond the level of apology. A 5-year-old can be taught to apologize, and too often the act of apologizing is simply the mouthing of empty words designed to get the offender off the hook.
    In my classroom I follow a pattern that I first learned from Barbara Coloroso -- when someone does something that is wrong and therefore causes hurt and damage to others, there are three things that should happen -- Restitution, Resolution, and Reconciliation. Restitution involves doing what is required to repair the damage; Fixing what is broken; Replacing what cannot be fixed. Resolution is about correcting whatever created the problem in the first place; working to make sure that the harm does not reoccur; making the expectations and boundaries clear. Finally, Reconciliation involves working to re-establish the relationship. Most often that cannot be done with a simple apology. It requires thought and effort and the intent to mend what has been broken between self and the other.

    I think that we ought to teach that set of 3R's to children, and I think that adults ought to learn and develop facility in that process. In my not ever humble opinion, it is a far better process (in a relational context) than punish and apologize.



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