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A Chance to Begin Again

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Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.

This originally appeared in the Winter 1999 issue of Spirituality & Health. Forgiveness is taking seriously the awfulness of what has happened when you are treated unfairly. It is opening the door for the other person to have a chance to begin again. Without forgiveness, resentment builds in us, a resentment which turns into hostility and anger. Hatred eats away at our well-being. In Africa, we have a word, Ubuntu, which is difficult to render in Western languages. It speaks about the essence of being human: that my humanity is caught up in your humanity because we say a person is a person through other persons. In our African understanding, we set great store by communal peace and harmony. Anything that subverts this harmony is injurious, not just to the community, but to all of us, and therefore forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence. …

Reprinted from Exploring Forgiveness (University of Wisconsin Press).

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