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.
There are a lot of people who say “I forgive you” when they mean “No harm done”, and a lot of people who say “That was unforgiveable” when they mean “That was genuinely really bad”.
Whether or not forgiveness is right is a complicated topic I do not want to get in here.
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”.
You forgive a conventional duel just as you forgive a conventional divorce.
You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.
I mean, from a utilitarian point of view, you are still doing the correct action of not giving people grief because they’re a divorcee. All I’m saying is that if you “forgive” something you don’t care about, you don’t earn any Virtue Points.
(by way of illustration: a billionaire who gives 0 to charity gets as many Utility Points as an impoverished pensioner who donates the same amount, but the latter gets a lot more Virtue Points) Tolerance is also considered a virtue, but it suffers the same sort of dimished expectations forgiveness does.
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?