Forgiveness and Permission

I’ve been an advocate of the quote “it’s often easier to ask for forgiveness than ask permission” – attributed to Grace Hopper.  But the word ‘forgiveness’ has started to play on my mind.  I understand the principle of responsibility that lies behind the phrase ‘ask permission’ and appreciate the spirit of JFDI and experimentation that this quote suggests.  But still the word ‘forgiveness’ niggles.  The first sentence from the wikipedia article on forgiveness – “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.” – sums it up.  Words like victim, offence, and offender all suggest something wrong to me.  Metaphors and quotes, like models are incomplete and probably should not be taken literally but I do think we need to be aware of some of the subtle messages that they contain.  Experimentation and action should be taken in an open manner, with an appreciation for the outcomes and those who may be affected by the outcome.  If something is a good idea and worth doing, don’t hesitate because you feel you need to ask permission, but don’t do something that you think you’ll need to beg forgiveness for afterwards.  Be open, transparent and clear … but also be courageous and do ‘the right thing.’

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