Humanum amare est, humanum autem ignoscere est.
(Plautus, Mercator 319)

Pron = hoo-MAH-noom ah-MAH-ray ehst, hoo-MAH-noom OW-tehm ihg-NOS-keh-reh ehst.

It is human to love, but it is also human to forgive.

Comment: This proverb, perhaps, betrays something more than the warm and fuzzy language that comes across in translation. It acknowledges that human relationships include loving and forgiving. The cross fire between love and forgiveness includes something that the proverb does not articulate: judgment.

Where there is no judgment, there is no need for forgiveness. What sort of love includes no judgment, and so, no need for forgiveness?

Love, as human beings frequently practice it, includes judgment. It runs something like this in the silent scripts of our minds: if you love me, you will act in a certain way. I love you, and so you must act in a certain way. When you don't act the way I expect or need, then I am hurt and angry, and you are the cause. I judge you. But, I will forgive you if . . .

And it goes on and on, repeating itself, over and over. This version of love really means I want and expect you to be something for me. It does not include honoring you for who you are. It does not allow that you, in any given moment, are doing the best you can.

But, if that is true, if we are each, in any given moment, doing the best we can, where is the cause for judgment? How can I be guilty if I am doing my best in this moment?

I cannot be judged guilty for doing my best. I can only be found guilty of not being what someone else wants or needs me to be. That judgment, finally, is not about me.

Human beings are capable of this kind of love: honoring the other, as he/she is in this moment, knowing that in this moment he/she is doing the best possible.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive