ableism,  Diversity,  Jesus,  Justice,  Privilege,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Forgiveness + Responsibility

You can forgive someone and hold them responsible. You can love someone and seek justice for that person’s abhorrent actions. People often use Jesus as an example of forgiveness. Well, there is the “turn the other cheek” Jesus and there is also the revolutionary Jesus. The Jesus that spoke up against a corrupt system and was hated and eventually killed for it. The Jesus that went into a temple with a whip, made by his own hands, turning over tables and kicking out charlatans. This Jesus spent his time with people that normal society had cast aside. If you agreed to change your actions, he would heal you. If you were doing evil, he spoke out against you.

Jesus was not sitting around comfortably being a carpenter accepting everything going on, saying “forgive them”. Even when his own family was like, “Jesus, where you been?” Jesus answered, “I was out in them streets doing what my father sent me to do. What do you mean where have I been?” Okay, he didn’t say that but it was something similar. He was not sitting at home quietly paying his taxes and waiting to see what the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate was going to say next. He was the leader of a movement to wipe out corruption while also helping the people who usually suffer during times of corruption;the marginalized, the poor and the sick.

Many of the people talking forgiveness these days are nothing like this Jesus. They are more like the people who sat around and did nothing while Jesus was hung on the cross. They are more like the people who sat around and did nothing while Hitler took power, Black people became slaves, and innocent Mexican children were imprisoned, oh, excuse me, detained. They are more like the money changers in the temple defiling the house of God. Taking things that are sacred and meant for all mankind, like say our planet or Yoga, and destroying it so they can make a buck.

This Jesus was not hugging people who wanted to kill him. He had some shady disciples around him but they were there for a purpose. He wasn’t stupid. He knew they were not going to stick around but he needed them to help him do his work. There were 12 of them. They would be like your coworkers in 2019. You go to lunch with them and you have fun together at the Christmas party. They cool but you know that Becky would throw you under the bus at the first opportunity and that the others wouldn’t take up for you. He knew he needed them to get his work done. That is how Jesus rolls. He wasn’t surrounded by hundred of fake people. Just a few. That is all he needed. Everybody else had to rise up or keep stepping.

So yes. Be like this Jesus. Hold people accountable. Be strategic about who you have around you. Stand up for the marginalized people in society who don’t have a voice. This Jesus showed that forgiving and actively changing the world are not a contradiction.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail


  • Bill

    Nicely put, Shanna. I agree with you that we should not just sit here and watch the world deteriorate – we need to take a stand; at the least, those of us able to vote should vote. Jesus was an awesome yogi.

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