Photograph of a torn paste up on Fillmore Street

I have the Right to have a Right to have the Right

I like to think of myself as a compassionate man but compassion
is difficult when one considers the damage people do on purpose.

How do we find compassion for people who, riven with envy, lie without hesitation, damage reputations, and steal the hard work of other people?

How do we find compassion for people who abuse their power, who insinuate themselves into the lives of others to control them and who take without giving back?

How does one forgive years of abuse from an alcoholic parent?

How does one forgive a friend who plays mind games designed to make you doubt yourself, who projects their failings onto you and who malignantly smears you to your friends and colleagues.

Trust is essential to effective communication and to the work of forging a working social contract.

Here is a brief list of behaviors I consider unforgivable:

Slander; especially hurtful gossip; when you maliciously smear the reputations of decent people you lose the right to respect and compassion.

Users; these are people who treat the generosity and resources of other people as if they are their due.

Emotional Abuse: it is unforgivable to target the weaknesses of
others for abuse.

Any intentional act or decision that results in the death of
a child.

Any intentional behavior that meets the definition of torture.

Blatant and intentional hypocrisy.

Any abuse of power that limits the resources and opportunities of
our children, our elderly and our disabled.

Any use of the Federal Government to empower racists.

Treason and collusion with treason.

How do we find compassion for the unforgivable?

Take away my family,
Take away the right to speak
Take away my point of view,
Take away my right to choose

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017 All Rights Reserved




58 thoughts on “I have the Right to have a Right to have the Right

    1. I think one can be compassionate and angry. Most of my anger about our acceptance of homelessness is rooted in compassion.

      The idea that people whose illness affects their ability to reason choose to live on the streets is cruel, untrue, and self serving.

      It enrages me that after forty years of the obvious failure of deinstitutionalization the United States still hasn’t reversed the cynical budget cuts that created homelessness.

      I think most of us know wrong when we see it.

      The problem is not that we don’t understand the source of the problem. The problem is that we grow comfortable with the convenient lies we tell ourselves.


  1. This is a thought-provoking post. There’s so many different angles to look at this subject from. I’ve been able to finally forgive my mother, as I know why she did the things she did. Not an excuse for them, nor does it nullify my years of pain, but I somehow managed to forgive her and we are creating a relationship independent of my resentment. She’s been trying to love me for so long now, and I’m finally letting her. It took a long time and a lot of work on myself to soften to the point where this could happen.
    My stepmother, on the other hand, does not try to love me. She never has, and she has more than narcissism going on in her crazy world. I had to make the decision to remove her from my life last year, which has caused a lot of angst in my family..towards me. Still, I am trying my best to love her as a human being from afar. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what’s good for me. I know I can’t have her in my life because it will hurt me too much, but I also know if I hold onto the anger that will also hurt me too much. If I keep her in my life, I will be angry and resentful… And I don’t like feeling that way. So, I wish her the best, and look at her anger as a symptom of whatever trauma she must have endured as a child, and leave it at that. I’ve even forgiven her son…my abuser. I don’t like him one bit. I think he’s disgusting and will be happy to never see him again, but I don’t hate him, nor harbor any anger towards him. So not easy to get to this point, and still probably could be in an even better place, if I knew how…but, It’s the best I can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Compassion … for me – it’s often more for the “soul” – being a religious person – I can usually find compassion for the life someone has, regardless of their actions. But there are some (many these days) that doesn’t work for. Including those who abused me. But I try not to kick myself when compassion is missing. I still hold myself a compassionate man – some people just take themselves outside the circle of “worthy” …
    at least for me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I struggle with this as well. When going around my mental/emotional circle around “I need to be a compassionate person, but this person certainly does not treat me with compassion,” I inevitably arrive at “true, this person does not treat me with compassion, but what would happen if one day the veil of delusion slipped from their eyes, and they saw/understood?” Surely they would regret! I hope. So although I cannot forgive my abusers, I sometimes (not always) can view them from a place of compassion. For instance, my 90 year old mother still trashes me in the most astonishing ways, every chance she gets. Those chances are the one phone call per month that I allow myself, which relieve my own anxiety about her well-being, which I care about because I am a compassionate person. I think we have to balance our need to be caring and compassionate with our even more important need for safety….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can see treating a 90 year old anyone with compassion. I will never forgive GWB but it would pain me to see him suffer.

        I’m talking about healthy young men like Paul Ryan who celebrate the idea of consigning millions of people to early death from treatable illness.

        I have no compassion for Ryan’s need for power.

        I have no compassion for Ryan’s arrogance and I have no compassion for the emptiness at the heart of Ryan’s politics.

        But I’d feel really bad for him at a public hanging. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wouldn’t. Not him, and not the rest of the gang of thieves who are hammer-and-tongs hard at work tearing down the hard-won gains we have made over the last 50 years. I remember the days when virtually everyone knew a woman who’d had an illegal abortion, and many people knew women who had been seriously injured or died from one. These are terrifying times.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think it was an illegal abortion that set my Mother up for her craziness. She told me stories two older brothers I would have had but she lost them, she said. They were twins. I don’t know. What I do know is that nothing the GOP does will affect the lives of the 1%.


  3. Reblogged this on 3wwwblog and commented:

    I am re-blogging this post of Robert, because there is an important exchange of thoughts going on. I would love to read many more replies to the post itself or to the existing relies. So, if you have an opinion, voice it!


  4. I think the difference lies in what is forgiveness? It is many things. There are many instances, where as human beings we are able to forgive others who have wronged us, if they sincerely ask forgiveness with no intention to continue what they have done, for example.

    In the cases you mentioned above, that is more than likely not going to occur. Also, as a survivor of child abuse and other things, many times I have been told that I need to forgive in order to truly move on. I do not believe this is true. How could I possibly forgive what has been done to me? I personally cannot. And I don’t believe that I need to in order to heal.

    I believe what I do need to do is to resolve within myself what happened and work through that. Many steps need to occur within that process and one of those is to learn to forgive myself for anything that I feel I did wrong or to cause it to happen. As for the people who victimized/abused me, I will never forgive them. That does not mean I have no hope of ever finding peace in the end.

    Compassion is the same for me in terms of forgiveness. Although, as a humanist I do feel that a level of humanity/compassion always needs to be leveled I in terms of the treatment of humans in general. That would require more thought from me. And is another reason why vigilante justice is not something that is done, and is for the courts. However, that is something that is broken as well.I will end at that.

    Great post and discussion. -CC

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your comment. The sheer power of the degree of destructive behavior that we have normalized as a culture is overwhelming. How does one find one’s bearings in a culture that doesn’t seem to understand fact based decisions making. The narcissist is the ultimate reflection of nothing…they destroy to preserve a lie that begins and ends with themselves. The lie is that they all light and perfect sweetness and they will insist that everyone agree with them; long after the mask drops. Their inability to understand that light and dark exist in all of us makes them victims of their unrestrained cruelty.

      This is why we create a code of conduct that governs our interactions with each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Compassion and forgiveness are brother and sister. They are from the same parents but like all siblings they aren’t exactly alike. Compassion is something you give others, forgiveness you give yourself. Compassion is seeing someone and understanding that their behavior comes fom a place of deep brokeness. Yes, some people are aware that their behavior is hurting others but because of their brokeness they are not able to see or understand it. I feel compassion for these people. Even more so for the broken person that chooses to not grow, heal and change. Forgiveness allows us to heal and separate ourselves from those who hurt us on whatever level we need. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it means we are free to move on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! Thank you for this comment. There is alot here to think about. I think you said the words that best describes the goal I want to achieve: ” I feel compassion for these people. Even more so for the broken person that chooses to not grow, heal and change. Forgiveness allows us to heal and separate ourselves from those who hurt us on whatever level we need. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it means we are free to move on.”

      Very often the words forgiveness and forgetting are used in tandem. I can the forgive the brokenness that causes someone to behave selfishly…but I don’t have to forget that that the person is broken and untrustworthy. I forget where I heard this saying but I like it: “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.” Thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. That is an interesting approach.

      I found the following definition of forgive in the merriam-webster online-dictionary:
      1) to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
      2) to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
      3) to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)

      And I found the following definition of compassion in the merriam-webster online-dictionary:
      1) sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it


      1. So according to this definition one cannot achieve compassion without foregoing anger…is that correct. I wonder what this feeling I have is: it’s anger at the personal affront of having someone abuse my good will while arrogantly accusing me of doing the things she’s doing; while recognizing that she is in lost in pathos and will never have the depth of experience that defines us as human. malicious selfishness is a stage of development…it isn’t the totality of the human experience.


  6. I don’t think there is the need to forgive the perpetrators. There is a need to show compassion with the victims and to let them know that we see the wrong that was done to them, too. That they are not alone. The we care about what happened to them. If we are the victim ourself, it is important to show compassion with ourselves, to understand what has been doe to us and why we are right and the perpetrator was wrong. I think it is important to conceive that the perpetrator is responsible for what he did and leave the full responsibility with him and not take over any responsibility of what the perpetrator did. If we show compassion with the perpetrator and not with the victim (the victim being us or others) you are at least in parts approving the wrong he did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. I also think that it’s important for those of us who have to cope with what it means to be survivors to have out anger. It is ok to feel angry at people who have no shame or sense of common decency. Who lie about you and steal from you and then have the gall to accuse you of using people when you confront them. Yes, that was what my Mother said when I tried to confront her: “Stop using people as scapegoats for your weakness.”

      So I’m with you on this. They unforgivable and barely worthy of compassion. The only reason to look for their humanity is so that we may find our own.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…It is hard. But I think that it is something we’re supposed to learn. I think that the hardest action is to turn the other cheek…and yet it seems like this is what makes us fully human.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think I would have to say I have a hard time finding compassion for people who bully others to the point that their behavior is considered abusive (any type of bullying doesn’t sit well with me.) Bullying affects everyone involved: the bully, the bullied, and those who are on the sidelines watching. The person being bullied loses their sense of self, they lose their trust of new and/or different people, they tend to feel betrayed, for example, if they feel they can’t talk to anyone about what amounts to abuse (sometimes extreme). Everyone loses. It is a zero sum game. I am certain that part of my social phobias and anxiety stem from being bullied throughout my formative years in school. I was different so they picked on me. I do not have a soft spot for people like this. The bullies tend to not do as well either. They can develop mental health issues, or continue to bully their friends and families.

    Someone would have to prove to me that they had made some serious changes in their lives, or come up with the courage to sincerely, and I do mean sincerely, apologize even if it were years later. Then I may forgive, but the problem lies in that I do not forget.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The apology would have to be specific to the offense, and it would have to be heartfelt; a vague ‘I’m sorry’ tossed into the ether is nothing more than another form of disrespect and narcissism. I think that it is possible to have compassion for an abuser without extending the forgiveness that often marks the resumption of a friendship. Thank you for reading the post and participating in the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think sometimes people hurt people intentionally in retaliation. Depending on the level of that, I can find compassion for people who would do so. However, a life-altering level of hurt is unacceptable to me, and I would lose compassion for someone who hurt someone like that, even in retaliation. Or if not in retaliation, then any intentional hurting of another person would make it hard for me to forgive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree. Thank you for adding to the conversation, Josh.

      There is something unforgivable and simultaneously pathetic about someone who is both needy and aggressively narcissist. It must feel like an endless tug of war. That doesn’t make what they do forgivable or make them worthy of friendship. But it changes the paradigm from outrage to compassion. I can have compassion for someone I consider unforgivable. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of willful abusers is that they strip people of their ability to trust; in that sense they succeed in isolating their target, even if they lose him as a source of narcissistic supply.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t. As a pediatric emergency physician I saw horrors that my imagination could never have though possible. I will not recount them. Even mentioning them gives them too much attention.

    I do not forgive my mother for the hell she has put me through all of my life, and for torturing my father when he became helpless to defend himself against her.

    I do not forgive my former husband for abusing our son.

    I cannot forgive myself for certain not-so-kind things I have done, even though I now understand them.

    I abhor violence of any kind, especially when it is perpetrated in the name of “peace.”

    In the words of the wonderful Laurie Anderson, “I could go on and on…But I won’t.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hear you…I want to forgive my Mother, but I can’t. How do I forgive a woman who set me up for a lifetime of misguided trust and betryal? I can’t, anymorre than I can or will forgive her surrogates. Especially that compinant of her personality that all narcissists share; the pure arrotgance of beleiving that what she did was right because she did it.

      But I do think that finding peace within myself means letting go of the anger. The next best thing to taking a wrecking ball to your life for a narcissist is taking up residence in your head. I’ve decided to clean house; which means evicting every last one of them from my mind and soul. It’s not easy, but I think that seeing them as human rather than the personification of evil is a big part of finding peace. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment….I hope you can forgive yourself one day. We are all unkind at some point in our lives. The difference between us and the psychopaths that raised us is our ability to hold ourselves accountable.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love what you said. I once read that a narcissistic parent would control you from their graves. I hope that AcONs will do exactly what you said: recognize their parent as real and destructive, and kicking them out of your head (and preferably out of your life!!!) All these narcissistic avatars that follow us around are reminders that we have to get the narcissist the fuck out of our DNA. It’s radical surgery. It has to be done. Yes, they are human–terribly, irrevocably damaged humans. We have been severely impacted by their illness, but we have not contacted it, and we can heal. Unlike many, I do not believe that we must forgive our abusers in order to heal ourselves. Nope. I believe that what is essential is to deeply understand that it is THEIR illness, that (like diabetes, only worse) they cannot control it, it will never go away, and that wounded little boy or girl inside US has to lay to rest that perpetual longing that one day we will wake up and have a real mommy. It ain’t gonna happen. We have to be our own mommy. I don’t forgive my mother. I do pity her, for she is a terribly damaged person. That does not mean I have to march to her tune, as hard as she tries to make that happen by bullying and alienating the rest of the family against me–such stereotypical narcissist tactics it would be laughable if it wasn’t so lame.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve come to the conclusion that Narcissists are not mentally ill but they are pathetic. Brains that don’t mature beyond two don’t function as innocent toddlers, they function as evil adults. I have come to the unforgiving conclusion that there is something insidiously evil about a middle aged adult that damages other people, especially people who have invited them into their lives out of a sense of compassion. They betray people in order to retain an illusion of perfection. It is inevitable that people will make mistakes in their relationships with friends and loved ones. A person who can’t admit to their mistakes is unable to be a friend in the real sense of the word. I pity them but I will never again allow a pathological narcissist to bully my mind. They can lie, smear and give me their worst….but I will never back down from calling them what they are, because my mind is mine…with all of it’s flaws and cracks, it’s a healthier than the mind of all of the narcissists I’ve met in my day. They all suffer from the stupidity that comes with not having the capacity for self reflection.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s that you have done the practically Sisyphan job of differentiating from these soul-killing monsters, recognizing them, and getting away from them before they have a chance to do you damage. I’ve just in the last few years evolved to where I can identify them a little too late, sustaining some damage in the process, but getting away after a few weeks. I’m getting there, and I’ve at least learned to forgive myself for wishing I had a real mommy. I hope it won’t be too much longer before I can see them coming, and not just cross the street to avoid them, but turn the corner and take another street entirely.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The biggest damage is what they do to your reputation on social networking sites. I can always tell when I have a pathological narcissist aka a Vampire running a campaign against me on Flickr. My views drop, not that they are great anyway.

        What I have noticed is that over time, people who aren’t brimming with co-dependence notice that I am consistently NOT the thing the vampire rumors me to be, although anyone who has followed me for any length of time and who has any degree of intellect may want to ask themselves why some straight woman is running around accusing a gay man of being a rotten boyfriend.

        I mean…no duh….

        I run a little test when I suspect I’m in the company of a pathological narcissist.

        Let’s say the narcissist tells you that while studying medicine they he was offended when the instructor informed him that he had left a sponge in a patients abdomen after a surgery.

        Let’s say that their response to the instructor was “so what?”

        If he get’s huffy when I point out that the instructor is supposed to teach him not to kill patients I know I’m in the company of a narcissist. πŸ™‚


      5. That’s ok…I would rather not know! I’ve had a couple of know-it-alls on my blog, and I sent them packing. I’m not very nice, you know πŸ‘Ή, at least not to trolls….even Bilbo was not nice to trolls. I just finished reading Bilbo Baggins for the thousandth time. My son has read all the technical stuff…I just like to read stories, being a little kid and all…not having a mommy kind of stunted my growth, as I’m now discovering via therapy. Kind of obvious, it would seem…But only after 30 years of therapy have I stopped trying to make it better and accepted that I am truly an alien so I’d better roll with it. That’s why I decided to become an intentional traveler. No comfy hobbit hole for me…more like Gandalf, who always did seem a little bit sad…


      6. Gandalf was also a powerful wizard who eventually defeated all of his enemies. It’s amusing to me that someone is arrogant enough to assume that the narcissist in my posts is anyone but my Mother and the family that let her torture me because her illness offended their narcissism. Narcissists are reflections of reflections of the transference they induce. In that sense they function of anti-therapists who become the central figure of a psychological conflict in which they are intruders.

        Yes…the damage my family did stunted me emotionally and I roll between the ages of 18 and thirty most of the time. Is it weird? I don’t know; I suppose it was weirder when I was trying to live in toy land because make a doll looked the age I felt. That was before I entered therapy and was forced to confront the fact that I was lost in a high tech version of playing with Barbie dolls.

        Children play with Barbie and imagine being adult…I was playing with avatars and imagined being younger. The good news is that I’ve managed to pull most of me out of toy land. I guess I’m still trying to make it better because I think that it’s possible. Eventually I will stop and enjoy what I have. Be strong. You know you are.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Short version of suicide attempt by nitrous oxide inhalation, age 23: I got to the other side via a black tunnel with a blinding white light shining at the end of it. The pain in my body reached the point where the pain could not get any worse. I thought, This is good to know. Then the voice came: “You will go through the fire, and you will come out shining. Now go back, you are not finished yet.”

        I have gone through so many fires. When will I come out shining? Do I get to know it, or is it only known by those Upstairs?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Laura…When I imagine you you are shining. You have a stunning intellect, a professor’s command of language, you are a strong person who is also a strong woman and when you press your talents to the cause of advocating for those who are less gifted you are a powerful advocate. When I first began this blog yours was one of the first voices I heard. I don’t really know what this blog looks like to someone who can see the whole thing, but if there is something
        good about it, it’s because you were one of the first bloggers to validate my worth. You are probably more admired and respected than you can let yourself know..You do shine:)


  10. I don’t apologize for holding people responsible for their actions . I can think of many actions that I find unforgivable. You have covered many things that are deplorable and beyond my ability to forgive. That said I would hope not to allow myself to become hardened but As a human being I can’t forgive inhumane behavior. I have 0 tolerance for cruelty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading the post and leaving such a thoughtful reply. Yes…these things are unforgivable. The reason I wrote this post and threw the question out to other bloggers is to avoid becoming hardened. I am beginning to understand the difference between offering forgiveness and offering compassion. The compassion must not be a condescending but genuine. I must feel compassion for someone who responds to love with cruelty and exploitation. I can honestly say that I think that it must be a sad not to know how to love or to respect people who extend themselves for you.

      Thank you again for a thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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