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Forgive and Forget

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Many of us can think of someone who has hurt us badly. How difficult it can be for us to forgive that person. Even if we avoid seeking revenge, we may hold on to a grudge. Our society doesn’t encourage forgiveness. On the contrary, when we are hurt we are told: “Don’t get angry; get even!” The plots of many popular dramas focus on “sweet revenge.” Yet we know that it is right to forgive and forget. Everybody remembers Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “It is by forgiving that one is forgiven”. Since we all know that friendship flourishes at the fountain of forgiveness, why is it still so difficult to forgive and forget? Here are a few of the barriers that might stop us from forgiving others.

The most basic reason for our unwillingness to forgive others lies in the fact that forgiving seems unfair to the forgiver. The culprit seems to have gotten away too easily and this is definitely not in line with the calculative nature of Man. A famous person once said, “Do not expect to be applauded for what you do right, and do not expect to be forgiven for what you do wrong.” This reflects the mindset of most people. They tend to think that since they will not be forgiven if they commit the same mistake, then neither should the wrongdoer.

Another more personal reason is that faults are thick where love is thin. If the person who did wrong is your enemy, or even someone whom you dislike, then there is a greater tendency to find fault with that person. This is further worsened by the fact that love will find a way, while indifference will find an excuse. If someone you like, for example, your good friend, does something wrong, then you are more likely to forgive him than someone whom you dislike.

Now, having said that, it does not mean that close friends will be spared either. Singapore Senior Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew indicated in his memoirs, “The Singapore Story”, that moments of extreme pain are forever imprinted on our minds. I believe that this is so, too, with emotional pain. We tend to have greater expectations of those who are close to us, so that when they fail us, the emotional blow is much heavier, and the truth will be much more difficult to accept.

Finally, even if you do decide to forgive the person who has done wrong to you, will it be as easy to forget? I refer again to the quote from “The Singapore Story”. One cannot shake hands with a clenched fist, so it is not possible to forgive and forget completely if you are reluctant to do so. Although you may have decided to forgive that person, have you done so completely? Have you managed to forget the past hurt and your grudge towards that person? Most likely not.

At this point, it is essential to know that I have only listed some of the difficulties to forgive and forget. No doubt there are still plenty more. However, difficulties aside, we should always remember that “Those who forgive most shall be most forgiven”. This quote simply means that forgiving is not just something we do for others, it’s a gift we give ourselves. To harbor a grudge is to carry a heavy stone in our hearts and disable our own capacity to love. Thus, it is definitely worth it to make an effort to “Forgive and Forget”.

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