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Friday, 18 January 2013 10:15

Dear Shakespeare – In forgiving mood

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My dear Billy,
One of the most earnest supplications we make to God in our prayers is “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” But do we really forgive those who have wronged us?
In the human world, for everyone who forgives his offenders, there are dozens who bide their time and furtively await the appropriate moment when they can take revenge. This is always apparent in political leaders when they are given power by the voters. They embark on a train of measures to punish their adversaries by dismissing them or barring their promotion or demoting them.

This, my dear Billy, is a sure sign of weakness because, as Mahatma Gandhi says, “The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” These politicians and others of their ilk can never let bygones be bygones. It is not within their ken or appreciation that to err is human, to forgive divine. In any case, it is a sheer exercise in futility to expect politicians to behave in a divine manner.

When Christ was being nailed to the Cross, he   cried out, “Forgive them, my Father, for they know not what they are doing.” Mahatma Gandhi must have echoed Christ’s words after the three bullets were lodged in his chest. Both knew that it was manlike to punish but godlike to forgive.

And yet, my dear Billy, forgiveness is a very interesting feature. It warms the heart and cools the sting, and we should pardon as long as we live, because we won’t have the chance after that. Never does the human heart appear as strong and noble as when it foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury. Don’t forget that an injury which you nurture and carry in your heart gnaws at you like a cancer and consumes you a little every day.

Some people exhort you to forgive and forget, my dear Billy. But it is one thing to forgive and quite another to forget. It is said that the stupid neither forgive nor forget, as in the case of our politicians; the naïve, for their part, do both forgive and forget, which is a foolish thing to do; the wise, on the other hand, forgive but do not forget. You must forgive the wrong that you have suffered, but you should never forget either the wrong or its perpetrator. This will keep you better prepared and warned in the future.

We know that it is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend because it hurts more when it’s a friend who harms you. But you should always be prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt and pardon them. I have a relative who was a very close friend of his neighbour. They used to spend a lot of time together and did most of their things together. They went swimming. They went fishing. They went abroad on holidays. They often met for drinks.

Then, after several years, the friend left the town and went to settle down with his wife in a faraway village. A little while later, my relative’s wife underwent a pretty serious surgery. His friend never got in touch with them, although he knew about the operation. My relative felt very bad and was deeply hurt because the friend never called to find out how his wife was doing. After just a short time he learned that his friend had died of cancer. “I feel so sad,” my relative told me. “I never got to see him. I never got to forgive him. It pains me so much now.”

“Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.” This quotation is from a film I had seen in my youth, in which the patriarch of the family is on his deathbed and calls for his estranged son so that he can make peace before he goes.
Indeed, there is no point in keeping vengeance or stubbornness in your heart, my dear Billy.

You will come to regret things like pride, vanity and hatred if you allow yourself to be swayed by them. Why do we do the things that we do?

It’s not just other people we need to forgive. We need to forgive ourselves too – for the wrong we’ve done unwittingly to others, but also for the things we didn’t do when we should have done them. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened; but if you can mend things at all and make them happen if there’s any need, do so by all means.
“Make peace,” advises the old sage. “You need to make peace with yourself and everyone around you. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Don’t wait, for tomorrow it will be too late.”




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