Stop the presses. Hold everything! Read this before the whole country walks over the cliff of no return! Consider the meaning of the word FORBEAR.
Forbear: Intransitive verb. 1: hold back, abstain or have forborne from taking part in any controversy— Abraham Lincoln. 2: to control oneself when provoked, to patiently forbore with one’s friend’s failings. 3. to prevent yourself from saying or doing something, especially in a way that shows control, good judgment, or kindness to others.
IN CONCEPT: Warning … I am about to quote a verse from out of the Bible. So, some may refuse to read any farther. However, to those who may be willing to risk it, consider some sage advice from out of the oldest book in the world: Exodus 23:5 says, “If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by, instead stop and help.” Understand, the concept did not only apply to that particular happenstance. It was a God intended way of everybody living out their lives on an everyday basis concerning interactions with other people.
This was a time in the world when there wasn’t really a police department or even a peace officer readily available. There weren’t a lot of lawyers, courtrooms, or for that matter, long listings of rules of do’s and don’ts for every particular occasion. So, in order to just have some semblance of peace, it was simply expected that people would try to get along with each other. I am not naïve, and I understand that from time to time this rule was surely violated by the unrestrained of society. The truth of the matter is however, this could and often did work when everyone agreed to participate.
The concept is really not all that difficult. Author Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The book highly recommends the following list of suggestions. “Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school. These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. When you go outside watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”
IN GENERAL: Every successful relationship that endures the test of time carries the word forbearance somewhere deep in its context. One could look at many different kinds of relationships, but let’s consider two relationships that really are the essence of most of our lives.
Friendship: Listen to some more sage advice from out of that good book. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:2, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Galatians 6:2 adds another angle, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” In order for any friendship to last this principle is no doubt an underlying factor. But wait a minute, surely this act of kindness need not only be reserved for those in our own little personal niche of society. Matthew 7:12 says, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” We need to read that last one because surely this extension of courtesy can and should be extended to more than just our friends. Society itself can and should be offered as much of this attitude as is humanly possible. Especially if anyone wants to live in at least the possibility of decency, peace, and order.
Marriage: Without marriage, most of us would not even be here. Marriage takes this concept of forbearance to possibly its highest level. Once again, more of that sage advice from the good book. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another …” More details follow, as to how that can play out well, but there is no doubt a good reason this is mentioned first. The word used here, “submit,” has a special meaning. It is like when two policemen are trying to take care of a dangerous situation. They need to advance to protect themselves as well as handle whatever event they are trying to resolve. So, one is going to take a risk but before they do they say to their partner, “cover me.” The reasoning is obvious. They are saying I cannot do this without your help. Take part in this with me and we will have a good outcome. You will be able to see what I can’t see. We all have to understand that no one is perfect. No one always has the right answer and always does the right thing. In a good marriage you understand that and you cover each other by being forgiving of each-others shortcomings. The bottom line is when both partners are giving it their very best in every area it brings balance, cooperation, and everyone gets covered, or taken care of. Disclaimer: This does not apply to physical abuse of any kind. We must understand that any society cannot continue to exist unless we are all in a sense married to making our relationships work along these same lines.
IN PRACTICE: We now arrive at the pinnacle of challenge in society today. Friends tend to associate with friends out of varying commonalities. Marriages work well and bring joy and comfort to those who cover each other. But there is another incredibly important area that involves a whole different set of rules. How do we relate to everything else outside of friendship and marriage? Government seems to be the only solution. For well over two hundred years the United States of America has succeeded, in essence, by being a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. We have this balance of power, i.e. President, Legislature, and Judiciary compartments. What we are presently seemingly lacking at present however, is the essence of this article. A forbearance of each other seems to be evading us for the most part. This is not the first time in our history, and if we somehow survive, it may not be the last.
And so, having been awakened in the night with this word, the word forbearance, I write hoping that it will resonate with the rest of our beloved country. I write to the president, the legislators, and the Supreme Court of our nation. I write to the news media. I write to all of my fellow citizens. Can we take this word forbearance and give it some great consideration? Can we at least be like the policeman who realizes he needs help, and therefore is willing to put some trust in another person. That person may be able to see something that you don’t see. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. But it we will take the time to try to cover each other. If we would all just do the things we learned in kindergarten. If we could just take a little more time to control ourselves, be patient with each other, stop saying things about each other, and especially to communicate in a way that shows control, good judgment, or kindness towards others. As we have in the past, we can get through this present time.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882
Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
At rich men’s tables eaten bread and pulse?
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust?
And loved so well a high behavior,
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobility more nobly to repay?
O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!
Article written by J. Stephen Jordan