Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Forgiveness is not being sentimental

In forgiving, people are not being asked to forget. On the contrary, it is important to remember, so that we should not let such atrocities happen again. Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. It means taking what happened seriously and not minimizing it; drawing out the sting in the memory that threatens to poison our entire existence. It involves trying to understand the perpetrators and so have empathy, to try to stand in their shoes and appreciate the sort of pressures and influences that might have conditioned them.

Desmond TutuForgiveness is not being sentimental. The study of forgiveness has become a growth industry... Forgiving has even been found to be good for your health.

Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin, but it is a loss that liberates the victim. In the commission we heard people speak of a sense of relief after forgiving. A recent issue of the journal Spirituality and Health had on its front cover a picture of three U.S. ex-servicemen standing in front of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. One asks, “Have you forgiven those who held you prisoner of war?” “I will never forgive them,” replies the other. His mate says: “Then it seems they still have you in prison, don’t they?”
Desmond Tutu (1931- )

Today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian is Forgiving means forgetting and other forgiveness myths

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  • At 4/27/2007 7:42 AM, Anonymous Linda + said…

    I agree with the Archbishop. Forgiveness is hard work, but it is rewarding work. It's something like climbing a mountain. The view and the fresh breeze are worth the [sometimes agonizing] effort. I have been breathing some rarefied air lately myself.


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