The Power of Forgiveness
As the famous saying goes “to error is human, to forgive is divine”, the aspect of forgiveness is very crucial in the lives of people within the society today. No one is perfect, and everybody on one occasion or another is bound to make a mistake which may irritate or annoy another person. When such a person acknowledges his or her mistakes and asks for forgiveness, then it should be granted to them without conditions. Forgiveness is a strong virtue which many people take quite relatively. Different people have different perceptions regarding the issue of forgiveness. Some think that some actions should be forgiven while others should not. Others believe that forgiving a wrongdoer encourages him or her to continue engaging in ill deeds. Therefore, for an individual to forgive, he or she should first have an understanding of the reasons behind forgiving.
The poem "The Powwow at the End of the World" is one of the most incredible poems by Sherman Alexie, and an award-winning performer, novelist, and filmmaker. Alexie has become popular among many people for his amazing short stories and poems regarding contemporary Native American reservation life. Among his amazing writings include The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fight in Heaven (1998), The Business of Fancy Dancing (1992) and the Smoke Signals (1998). Alexie is the world Heavyweight Poetry Title holder for more than four years due to his incredible poems. The poem “The Powwow at the End of the World” is one of his favorite poems that has enhanced his reputation as a result of the detailed and informative element of forgiveness it portrays.
The poem “The Powwow at the End of the World” has a forgiveness theme which the writer effectively represents. The aspect of forgiveness is evident throughout the poem through the rhyming first statement of every sentence “many of you tell me that I must forgive and so I shall” The poet uses this rhyming phrase symbolically to lay emphasis on the need for forgives. The poet decides to commit himself towards forgiving hence concluding the rhyming statement by “so I shall”. This is a clear expression of the desire by the poet to forgive hence encouraging the reader to practice forgiveness as well.
The rhyming statement at the beginning of each statement is a strong suggestion of the dance and drumbeats or rather the Indian public dance at the end of the world where everything will be put all once again. The writer who is portrayed as an Indian is answering to the demand of the audience who require the Indians to forgive the European settlers who invaded their land four centuries ago and oppressed them. The entire poem gives emphasis on forgiveness as well as presenting different effects of modern civilization, dam’s destruction, and allowing the flow of water and return of salmon.
The poet as well has other different types of symbolism in his poem. The Salmon represents the Native American souls and the hardship that they underwent under the hand of the colonizers. The breaking of the dams, on the contrary, means the tribes traditions and custom revitalization that portrays the challenges that the Spokane people faced under the control of the white man. These challenges always trigger bitterness in their hearts hence finding it difficult to forgive the white people. This clearly depicts the unforgiving theme within the poem which is an accurate reflection of what is happening in the real world today. Different nations apart from Indian that struggled under the hands of the colonizers also hold the same grudges hence making it difficult to forgive them.
Unforgiveness retards a country's growth and development. Nations such as Indian as displayed in the poem cannot easily trade and relate with their colonizers hence impeding their economic and social growth. It is important for such nations to forgive and reconcile with their colonizers towards initiating different economic and social growth within their communities.
The Indian communities have been using different formal structures such as prayers, dances, songs, gestures and virtual symbols to restore harmony among the community members. They have also been using poems by great Indian poets to portray a particular message aimed at uniting the community members. This poem by Sherman depicts a fundamental reconciliation element that resurrects the spirit of the dead Indians and their powwow culture regarding the end of the world. The poem also reflects the need of the poet for the current generation to uphold forgiveness to live peacefully with one another. The element of language use to reconcile and unite the community as displayed in this poem and other Indian formal structures should be emulated by other communities in different parts of the world.
As a result of European colonization, the poet used different images to portray the effect of the colonization on the Indian people. For instance, he uses lighting fires and leaping fish to present an impression of fury and anger for different inhuman activities conducted against his people. The poem slightly gives a contradiction by portraying an unforgiving theme whereby the writer claims that he will forgive when pigs fly. As stated at the beginning of this essay, different people have different perceptions regarding forgiveness. This is why we can see the poet driven by anger claiming that he was not ready to forgive despite the great demand by the audience.
The importance of forgiveness should not be underestimated. Forgiveness helps us eliminate hard feelings, and hence we feel light. Forgiveness helps remove the element of bitterness that eats up people peace of mind. Many psychologists have attributed as a means of self-fulfillment claiming that those who easily forgive others are much more satisfied and responsible as opposed to those who keep grudges. This is evident in the poem as the writer feels bitter about the colonizers and the things they did to his people hence claiming that he would forgive them when pigs fly. From this, we can also identify bitterness as an element that hinders forgiveness. Many people have not been able to forgive their friends out of bitterness which develops to other disastrous activities such as murder or family breakup.
The poem by Alexie ends with the statement “many of you tell me that I must forgive and so I shall”. Here the author means that the end of time will come when they would all come together and forgive hence their lives getting back to how they were before the colonizers. This shows that forgiving brings about healing. Forgiveness enables people to reunite hence contributing to growth and development within their community. This is why the writer uses powwow to mean the end time reconciliation where the community members will be reunited and peaceful once again. Despite the last sentence of the poem showing that they were not willing to forgive until they were reunited and the Indian life restored, the main aim behind all this is to get forgiveness and peacefully move on with life.
When a person crosses or hurts another person, the offended person may find it difficult to forgive. Hurting a person directly or indirectly makes it hard for them to forgive the other person. This is evident in the poem as the Indians whose ancestors were hurt by the colonizers being quite angry despite not being the direct culprits of the actions of the colonizers. The fact that the colonizers hurt Indian ancestors’ make Indians feel hurt. Hence, it is difficult for them to forgive. The ease in forgiving is sometimes determined by the extent to which an individual’s trust is breached. The more the trust is breached, the more it becomes difficult to forgive and vice versa. For instance, the Indians who had their land grabbed by the colonizers found it harder to forgive. However, despite the intensity of bleach, it is advisable to forgive. This is because piling up bad intentions to people who did wrong to us will only stress and make us suffer more.
It is evident in this essay that unforgiveness has dire consequences to those who fail to forgive. Failure to forgive may piles up bitterness which may result in tragic encounters with an individual. When a person does not forgive he or she holds on to bad experiences that keep haunting them and triggers negative feelings of anger, desire for revenge, resentment, and hatred that makes him not want to see the other person. As the poem portrays, the Indians are ready to forgive hence demanding from the poet to forgive. It is important for people to forgive one another towards enhancing a good relation hence moving their lives ahead. Forgiving relieves one from mental burdens, health problems, bandages, and other challenges such as injury or death that may result due to the desire for revenge.