Recently, I was looking for articles to share on the Positive Soup facebook page and I found a post by The Forgiveness Project that linked to this article about Clifford O’Sullivan. He asked for his mother’s murderer to be killed 20 years ago and is now working to save this man’s life after meeting and forgiving him.
The reason why this story moved me so much is because O’Sullivan managed to do something that makes him the human he really is, which is to look beyond his blinding pain and recognize in his mother’s murderer another human. This is, I believe, the most powerful awareness because it is a tool for peace, for understanding, for social progress, for freedom.
This story of forgiveness is an example of what pushed me to start this website. I believe deep in my heart that empathy and compassion are only real if extended to all beings no matter what they did, that the quote “be kind to unkind people, they need it the most” resonates with a truth that is hard to accept but is life-changing.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude. -Martin Luther King Jr.
The notion of justice is a difficult one, because it’s actually rarely objective. The idea of taking justice into your own hands, to retaliate because you’re in your own right, because it’s only fair, are feelings and not values. They’re strictly based on a personal perspective, and one that is clouded by pain.
I think forgiveness leads to actual justice because it’s a strength, it’s elevated, it’s detached from the ego, it’s a decision to stop, consider, and heal.
When the world will understand that forgiveness, compassion, kindness, are not weaknesses but the keys to a higher consciousness, a step towards what we humans can become, then actual change will happen. And the world I’m talking about is us. It’s you. The justification that “we are animals too” and that our instinct of revenge for instance is “natural” isn’t a logic that can make us evolve. It is, on the contrary, an easy way to not face the state of our humanity.
We need to embrace the wisdom we’re capable of, as it is, I believe, our true nature.
Here are 4 realizations that helped me shape my principles and who I am:
- Recognizing darkness in ourselves helps us understand the people who act on theirs.
- Taking the time to know about someone’s circumstances instead of labeling them expands our mind and our heart.
- Goodness, in some people, is simply struggling to come out.
- People change, evolve, grow, if we let them, and mostly if we believe they can.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. It requires work, a passionate, daily work. And for those who are tempted to think that it can’t be our nature to be forgiving because of how hard it is, I want to reply that it only shows how far we are from our nature and how we need to be brave and own with grace the responsibility of being humans. It is the most rewarding journey.
Heart illustration by Freepick / Space embrace illustration by Scott Campbell