And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
“Life is an adventure in forgiveness,” said writer and editor Norman Cousins. It is a key spiritual practice, our chief means of dissipating resentments and the first crucial step in reconciling ourselves with our neighbors. To forgive is sometimes very difficult, for example, consider victims of Bullying and survivors of Nazi concentration camps.
Forgiveness may be provocative word in our culture. We observe anger in movies, news, and even highways. Anger is acceptable for some people, but others desire a new direction in thinking and neighbor interaction. Forgiveness helps our health, and provides a solid step in the new direction. Resentment may escalate into revenge and war.
Children are taught to forgive by the actions of their parents and other mentors. Robert Enright and his wife work with teachers from Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland to design and test a school curriculum focusing on forgiveness and mercy. We often pray “Have mercy on us Lord” . . . Do we have mercy for our neighbor?
Spiritual activist Marianne Williamson adds: “At a time when we see so much evil, we are called upon to have the moral grandeur and spiritual audacity to believe in good, to proclaim it, to stand in conviction, to take the people who truly do evil and, yes, hold them accountable. But to nevertheless stand for the possibility of human redemption that turns even the hardest hearts.”
Everett Worthington, who teaches forgiveness to college students, describes how he and his siblings were able to forgive the violent murder of their mother whereas the police chief admits she would never forgive. I believe the children have forgiven the murderer, but have not reconciled with him, Forgiving without Reconciling. Resentment is a ghost in the human unconscious that can beget a web of negative emotions, such as anger and revenge, and lead to anxiety and depression. When you forgive you make a big material and spiritual favor to yourself.
Dr. Viktor Frankl is a classic example of converting resentment into accomplishment and humanism. He was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, holocaust survivor, and the logotherapy founder. Frankl is prominent in existential therapy and inspiration for humanist psychologists.