The Search for Reality: Forgiveness as a Foundation of the Human Experience

Open Access
Muench, Margaret Elizabeth
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • John Bowman, Thesis Supervisor
  • Brian Alfred, Honors Advisor
  • esse
  • forgiveness
What does it mean to be human? What makes human beings unique? Many species of animals have highly functioning intelligence quotients and coexist in a communal lifestyle. Love is a distinguishing factor that separates the human from all other life forms. It is esse, or the very being of humanity (Jankélévitch 555). What is love? Love is not the broken nuclear family system where about fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce (“Marriage and Divorce”). Love is not the communal atmosphere of small towns where racism and hatred run rampant. Nor is it found in the cooperation of nations who fluctuate between cooperation and hostility depending on the current political policy. Love is much more than a feeling, a legal agreement, or a popular campaign. If it exists, love must have evidence. Forgiveness shows that love exists between people. Forgiveness happens when lovers makeup after a bitter argument, when victims of war crimes and abuse reach out to their abusers with kindness, when children reunite with absentee or abusive parents, and when communities suffering from ethnic and racial violence are able to show grace towards the perpetrators of crimes against them. In these settings, love appears.