How does one go about forgiving those who perpetrate evil? I can see forgiving those who are insensitive or who have made a mistake, but what about those who plot mayhem and carry it out? It seems like forgiveness asks too much of us at that point.

You raise an issue that has long been debated regarding forgiveness. Some say that it is improper to forgive those who perpetrate evil. Yet, what do we make of those who have, such as Eva Mozes Kor who forgave the “doctor” who experimented on her twin sister and her at Auschwitz? What do we make of Nelson Mandela who forgave his jailer of 20 years? What about all of the heroes in our News section of this website who forgive those who perpetrate evil?

Our point is this: Some do forgive those who perpetrate evil and we should respect their right to do so. Some are not ready to forgive and we should not condemn them. After all, they likely are in great pain.

For those who wish to forgive others for horrific injustices, we recommend starting now, before the horrific event. Build up your forgiveness muscles with smaller injustices so that you are ready when the big ones come. It is like being asked to run a marathon. It is far more manageable if you have trained for it than if you have to get up off the couch and now run one for the first time.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness

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