The answer depends on how the other will respond. If that person is not ready to hear those words or to seek forgiveness, then rejection of your overture can happen. If the other sees no wrong in the actions, then rejection of your overture again can happen. In other words, it depends on the circumstances between the two of you. You certainly can say within yourself about the other, “I forgive you,” and this is reasonable if proclaiming those words to the other will create more tension between the two of you.
My partner and I have different political views. I try to be respectful of his views, but he definitely is not respectful of my views or of me in particular. Help! How can I forgive him and start a productive dialogue about this?
I think you need to talk with your partner about what it means to be a person. Are people more than their political positions? If so, what is this “more” that goes beyond the political? Does he see these other important qualities in you? I think he needs to broaden his perspective that human beings, in their importance, transcend politics. This is not easy to learn and so he and you will have to work on this more transcendent perspective. As you forgive, try to see these larger human qualities in your partner. Such a wider perspective likely will help you in the forgiveness process.
I am doing research on forgiveness as an idea in the heart of humanity. In your own studies, what do you see as the earliest, ancient work that describes person-to-person forgiveness?
The oldest account of person-to-person forgiving that I have found is in the Hebrew Scriptures, in Genesis 37-45 in which Joseph forgives his 10 half-brothers for attempted murder and then selling him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph ends up unconditionally forgiving them and providing provisions for the Hebrew nation that was suffering from famine.
What if I think that a person does not deserve to be forgiven? Should I then not go ahead with forgiveness?
There is a difference between your belief that a person does not deserve forgiveness and your willingness to go ahead or not with forgiving. I would say that all people are worthy of being forgiven because all people possess inherent worth. All people are special, unique, and irreplaceable. Yet, forgiveness can take time and so if you are not ready to forgive, this is your choice. I would say that your not going ahead with forgiving has more to do with your own inner world (your willingness to forgive) than it has to do with who this other person is as a person, worthy of forgiveness.
Which of your books, Forgiveness Is a Choice, The Forgiving Life, or 8 Keys to Forgiveness, present the deepest view of forgiveness in your opinion?
I would say that The Forgiving Life is the deepest in a philosophical sense. It is a Socratic dialogue between two women, one of whom is just discovering the importance of forgiveness and an older, wiser person who has much experience with forgiveness. In this book, I make the case for forgiveness as unconditional love given to the one who offends.