Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's Often Hard to Produce, but the World Needs More Forgiveness

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:

  • “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” - Dale Carnegie

  • “Forgiveness is not the misguided act of condoning irresponsible, hurtful behavior. Nor is it a superficial turning of the other cheek that leaves us feeling victimized and martyred. Rather it is the finishing of old business that allows us to experience the present, free of contamination from the past.” - Joan Borysenko

  • “Friendship flourishes at the fountain of forgiveness.” - William Arthur Ward

  • “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” -
    Lewis B. Smedes

  • "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." - Jesus

  • "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Gandhi

  • "To err is human; to forgive, infrequent." - Franklin P. Adams

  • "Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control... to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else's nightmare." - Lance Morrow

    Anonymous said...

    WOW I am so touched by this post, I loved all of it. it made me pick up this hard shell and toss it away. I truly love this quote
    “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” -
    Lewis B. Smedes. how true how true. TY charles you inspired and made my DAY.. :}

    Charles Cheeseman said...

    Glad you liked it inky. It's an interesting topic anytime, especially after having read your own writings on the topic - that's inspiring too.

    nadinebc said...

    Did you see Obama's speech today? Made me think of this post.

    Charles Cheeseman said...

    Did not see it yet Nadine but will watch for a replay, thanks.