September 7 is celebrated as “World Forgiveness Day”. This day is an occasion to forgive and be forgiven. Forgiveness Day is a chance to set things right. It is said that “Forgiveness offers the possibility of two types of peace: peace of mind — the potential healing of old emotional wounds, and peace with others — the possibility of new, more gratifying relationships in the future.” Forgiveness is the key. It allows us to lay down the right to claim retribution (openly or inwardly in our hearts and minds). Forgiving allows us to deal with, and then look past all the hurt and consequences of the offense. It pardons the offender and the offense. This does not mean to forget, in fact, we must remember as a way to remind ourselves that we too might be guilty of the same offense.
Usually when we hurt another person or ourselves it is unconscious, the act of forgiveness is always a conscious decision. The act of forgiveness allows unconscious actions to come into the light of awareness. Forgiving others does not fix their mistakes; we forgive them to release ourselves from the heavy burden of holding grudges and carrying bitterness in our heart. It accomplishes something even greater than that, it allows us each the space to let go of past mistakes while helping to cultivate a deeper sense of compassion for ourselves (and others). In the word of Jonathan Human “Forgiveness is an inherent virtue of being human, a prerequisite for a healthy human society and a central component to every religion. To forgive is to liberate one’s self from the bondage of blame and recrimination. When we forgive, the trauma heals. Forgiveness transmutes poison into medicine. We lament the wars and conflicts across the globe yet what about the battles in our own lives and the battles inside each of us?
Sometimes when we are unwilling to forgive, it helps to remember that we, too, may someday require another person’s forgiveness. An attitude of forgiveness is a little easier to develop when we remember that we are all doing the very best we can. And someday we, too, will need forgiveness.
Forgiving others not only frees those we forgive; it frees us from the poison of resentment and anger.
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)