Gandhi was right: if we all live by 'an eye for an eye' the whole world will be blind. The only way out is forgiveness. (more quotes below)
In the war torn hot spots of the world, you know the ones, they're on the news every other day, there's so much hate, and so scarce a sign of forgiveness. It can be one of the toughest things to do on every level. But it can bring peace to all parties. It is a tenet of religions, but also a psychological act that involves inner strength, empathy, patience, analysis, time and situational perspectives about others, and good intentions.
Forgiveness is not a word you hear often. Over 30 years of paying attention to current events, and world conflicts, the word was not used too much - maybe by Desmond Tutu, and Popes, but not many group or national leaders embroiled in fighting use it. It can be seen as a weakness one can imagine, or a sign of surrender even. And yes, if a family member were slain by an opposing group, it would be hard to forgive. It is rare.
Remember the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King beating police trial? A truck driver named Reginald Denny, was dragged out of his cab, savagely beaten, kicked and had rocks thrown at his head. Unbelievably, he survived. You might think he sought to avenge his attack, but instead he forgave his attackers. Amidst the racial hatred which could keep reigniting, this man showed that he was willing to end the circle of revenge, hate, and misunderstanding. Even Obama - though it would have been political suicide to even hint at payback of some sort for inhumane treatment by whites - his lack of reference to anything suggesting racial reparations, was a tacit suggestion of forgiveness. One more famous example - John Paul II met his would be assassin face to face after the 1981 attack on the pope, and told him that he forgave him.
While you're above the sod, as a friend calls it, life is short - as opposed to being underneath it, is a pretty long time, and too late to make peace then.
A few more quotes on forgiveness:
Lewis B. Smedes