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Forgive, Forgiveness: To excuse, pardon or to give up being angry or the desire to punish someone. Forgiveness is one of the most valuable things you can offer someone. It is the responsibility of someone who has wronged you to try to make things right by apologizing and undoing their wrong as much as humanly possible. We cannot go back in time to fix our problems, so the most we can do when we realize that we have erred is to acknowledge this fact and then try proactively to make it right and hope for forgiveness. Error is inevitable and if an insurmountable conflict was created every time someone made a mistake, our society would have little time or energy to progress in ways which matter. Forgiveness can be hard to give, but this does not mean that it is always the right thing to do. In some instances, forgiveness depends on the perceived  sincerity of those who offer an apology for their wrongdoing. Forgiveness can be coerced or forced, but seldom is this form genuine or permanent. As Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Have you forgiven others? When have you been forgiven? Do you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders after being forgiven or forgiving others? What do you require to forgive someone? What does it take for you to receive forgiveness from someone else? Sometimes forgiveness is solely based on one’s love for a person, such as love for one’s spouse or child. Forgiving your partner for an indiscretion or your child for lying to you are good examples of love-induced forgiveness. Also, it is usually easier to forgive those who accidentally wrong us when we understand that they do now know any better. Another important type of forgiveness occurs when we forgive ourselves. Some people consistently beat themselves up about the small mistakes and accidental wrongs that they commit, rather than forgiving themselves and learning from the experience. An example of forced or coerced forgiveness is when your boss demands that you and a co-worker end a quarrel for the sake of productivity. Forgiveness in this type of situation is less than sincere, but the alternative of losing one’s job is usually a powerful incentive to fake it and make nice with one’s co-worker. Yet, few people experience the absolute sorrow and difficulty involved in forgiving those who kill a loved one. One of the few, Mary Johnson, lost her son when he was shot and killed at a party by Oshea Israel, a teenager at the time. According to Today News, Mrs. Johnson said her “forgiveness of Israel in no way condone[d] what he did 20 years ago, but that she did it to free herself of suffering.” It is reported that Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Israel have lived as next-door neighbors since his parole and travel the nation “as part of ‘From Death to Life’, a nonprofit Johnson founded to provide healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who caused harm.” Allowing yourself to forgive, as Mrs. Johnson demonstrates, not only benefits the forgiven but also the person doing the forgiving. Without the ability to forgive others, each one of us would be burdened by anger, bitterness, conflict and self-loathing. As Mrs. Johnson emphasized, “all that stuff had to leave me.” Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the solution she discovered was sincerely forgiving her son’s killer. Imagine what forgiving others could do for your life.

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