Archive for February, 2021

It is hard to see the other’s wounds when she wounded me a hundred times more than what she is carrying around. When I try to look at her wounds it makes me frustrated and sad because of all the wasted time and all the hurt created. Will I ever be able to overcome this?

Yes, I truly believe you will overcome this with a determined will. Sometimes we have to fight for our healing and endure with great patience, but never, ever give up. Do not expect too much too soon. The forgiveness journey is just that, a journey and a challenging one at times. Yet, with practice you lessen anger a little more and then a little more until you can see the progress. As you are able, please keep reaching out to the other person as best you can today. Your mercy given to others will come back to you.

Based on a response in 8 Keys to Forgiveness, Chapter 5.

Can and Should Anyone Ever Forgive Those Who Perpetrate Genocide?

I have been studying forgiveness for the past 36 years and this questions keeps coming up. To me, this means that it is a vital question as well as one filled with emotion for those who ask. Given that we have worked in contentious world zones now for two decades, I have learned that the answer is important and can be contentious.

So, here are my views:

Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, as are justice, patience, kindness, and love, it should be seen as similar to all other moral virtues. Is there ever a case that a person would say to another, “You must not ever be fair or just in situation X for this reason…….”? This likely would never seem correct to anyone because we all have the freedom of our will to be fair whenever we want to enact justice. To prevent a person who is intent on fairness would seem unfair.

I think it is the same with regard to forgiveness under any circumstance. If the potential-forgiver has thought about the situation, determines it was unfair, and willingly chooses to forgive, then it is that person’s free will choice to do so.

Yes, others may look on with disgust or confusion because of another person’s decision to forgive, especially in the grave issue of genocide, but again, we have to fall back onto the quality of forgiveness, what it is in its essence: Forgiveness is the free will decision to be good to those who have not been good to the forgiver. In doing so, the forgiver never distorts the injustice by saying, “It’s ok what happened.” No. What happened was wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong. Forgiveness now is a response to the other person or persons who perpetrated this wrongdoing. The potential-forgiver can and should fight for justice even when forgiving. Forgiveness should not cancel this quest for fairness and safety. In fact, forgiving may help a person to reduce hatred which can consume one’s energy and well-being. The forgiving, there, might free the unjustly-treated person to strive with more vigor for fairness. 

In the final analysis, some people do decide to forgive those who perpetrated genocide. This is the free-will decision of the person and if this is done rationally then it is good because the appropriation of true moral virtues in a rational way is good by definition. When there is a philosophical distortion of forgiveness, such as engaging in the vice of cowardliness in which the false-forgiveness allows the unjust and powerful others to dominate people, then this is not forgiveness at all. It is a masquerade of forgiveness. Yet, true forgiveness, that does not back down, is a moral virtue whether or not others looking on judge it to be this or not.

At the same time, some people will decide not to forgive others who perpetrated genocide. This, too, is the person’s free will decision and those looking on, as in the case above, might best handle this situation by realizing that people have a difference of opinion at present on this moral dilemma of forgiving under the most trying of circumstances.

Can and should a person forgive those who perpetrate genocide? Yes, some can and should if they have good reasons to do so. Should all then forgive? No, because this suggests control over a person’s own private decision, which should be left to the one who experienced the trauma.



I have done the exercise for your Process Model and I see the stresses that the person was under. Still, this does little for my anger. Yes, I see a wounded and even a weak person, but I still want to punch him for what he did to me. What can you suggest to me so that I am not living with this resentment?

Doing the exercises is not an automatic way out of resentment. It will take time for the resentment to end. I recommend homework for you on a daily basis. Here is that homework: At least twice a day for the next two weeks, please go over the tasks in this exercise, trying to see the person more clearly at the time of the injury. Say to yourself, “I forgive (name) for hurting me at that time when this person was under stress. I will try to be merciful even though I did not receive either justice or mercy.”

Based on a response in 8 Keys to Forgiveness, Chapter 5.

I understand there is forgiveness work done in Kosovo. If so, would you please let me know. I would like to get involved with that.

In September of 2014, I was invited and attended a meeting at the United Nations Population Fund in New York City. The goal of that meeting was to discuss and possibly begin forgiveness intervention work in Kosovo. This never materialized, much to my disappointment. Yet, if you are inspired to pick up that work, I would delight in working with you on this. We have resources on forgiveness education that can be translated into different languages and brought into families, schools, and houses of worship.

Can your Forgiveness Education materials be modified for secular universities, which are looking at racial injustice, white supremacy, social justice?

Our Forgiveness Education programs are built for ages 4 through age 18. For university settings, I would recommend the following:

The video, The Power of Forgiveness, as a way to get people discussing forgiveness in the context of societal challenges.

Then you might consider small groups that read and discuss any of the following of my self-help forgiveness books:

Forgiveness Is a Choice (2001)

The Forgiving Life (2012). This is my most in-depth self-help book because it links forgiving to the moral virtue of agape love. This book is a Socratic dialogue between two women.

8 Keys to Forgiveness (2015)

Please keep in mind that some who advocate for social justice misunderstand the importance and beauty of forgiveness, thinking it is a way of caving in to injustice. This is not what forgiveness is. Yet, if a person misunderstands forgiveness in this way, it may lead to a rejection of forgiveness because of this misunderstanding of its true meaning.