Forgiving Makes Life Fairer Please click through slides at your leisure
Is forgiving an honorable way to come to terms with the pain you feel when a responsible person stings you deeply and unfairly?
Well, what is the alternative to forgiving? Must you freeze yourself in the unfairness of a cruel moment in the past? Do you want your private world to stand still at that wretched incident in your irreversible history? Or are you ready to find a better way? Better than what? Better than the pain of a memory glued forever to the unfair past.
But suppose you do refuse to settle for the past and you also refuse to forgive. Is there another option? Maybe revenge?
Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gave you. An eye for an eye! Fairness!
The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; … it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off.
No matter what our weapons are—words, clubs, arrows, guns, bombs, nuclear missiles—revenge locks us into an escalation of violence. An eye for an eye becomes a leg for a leg and, eventually, a life for a life.
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.
Forgiveness has creative power... ...to move us away from a past moment of pain, to unshackle us from our endless chain of reactions, and to create a new situation in which both the wrongdoer and the wronged can begin a new way.
Vengeance mires people in a painful and unjust past. They ought to move toward a new future of fairer relationships, but the inner lust for revenge pushes them deeper into endless repetition of the old unfairness.
The only way to heal the pain is to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiving stops the reruns of pain. Forgiving heals your memory as you change your memory's vision. Forgiveness breaks the grip that past wrong and past pain have on our minds and frees us for whatever fairer future lies amid the unknown potentialities of our tomorrows.
When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.