Forgiving the Bad Apples

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We had a class meeting the other night. One parent reported that a few bad apples have spoiled the whole class’s reputation. Several people nodded and one parent said something like, “Yes, if we were rid of those bad apples, everything would be fine.” Most of us nodded. (I didn’t even know the bad apples, but what she said made sense. Like the song goes, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl.” Oh, wait, one doesn’t spoil the whole bunch! Good to know!)

One woman spoke up, “I think we’re too involved. Let’s let the kids work it out themselves.”

Jones Beach in winter

Another said, “Yes, we should teach our children to be forgiving. We hold our grudges for too long.”

Walking out with these new friends from the meeting, I said to the woman who advocated forgiveness, “What a powerful idea. I forget about forgiveness.”

“Some of my students’ parents still remember when their child was wronged in 1st grade and I teach 8th grade,” said a new friend, a teacher in another school. “We have to let go.”

I’ve thought about this conversation for several days. I wonder if I, like many people, define myself by NOT being one of the bad apples (and certainly none of MY children are rotten!). And I’m not sure I always forgive and forget.

I have always liked being a good apple. And have enjoyed the smug pride of my righteous, responsible and kind nature.

I actually despise bad apples. I detest overly negative people. (Especially since giving up gossip again this Lent!) And yet, I recognize the irony — I am extremely negative about negative people.

I wonder if I might try this new practice of forgiving the bad apples, the good apples, the negative people and even, myself.