I am discouraged. As I look at societies in this early part of the 21st century, I see far too much mayhem, too much outrageous injustice. Offenders rarely self-accuse; they rarely have a well-formed conscience and so they just do not learn that what they have done is dark and completely unacceptable. Therefore, forgiveness is not just a choice, but an absolute necessity. It is not the forgiveness itself that discourages me. What discourages me is this: the mayhem will continue and so the incessant need to forgive will continue. What insights do you have for me?
I think your discouragement is in the strong likelihood that the mayhem, as you call it, will continue in societies. Yet, let us engage in a thought experiment. Let us suppose that there never was such a moral virtue as forgiveness. The only moral virtues in this alternative universe are the quest for justice and the courage to carry this out. What, then, would individuals and families and communities be like? Would it not be the case that the vengeance, the hatred, and wars would be continuous? Would it not be the case that such wars would grow more violent, even more unjust? Would humanity ever discover love?
Now, compare the world I just created in this thought experiment with our current world. Yes, the injustices continue. Yes, we can address many of these with justice, but at the same time, we can add love to our interactions, at least within our own communities, so that the enmity, the hatred, and the toxic anger within people can be lessened and not passed on to the children. Our world has the potential for love, even though it is not always realized in actuality. What a world it would be if there was not even the potential for love. Forgiveness on its highest level is to exercise love. So, I hope that you have more hope now because love is real and available to all who have the wisdom to choose it.