Charles Griswold

On Forgiveness

by Charles L. Griswold

(This piece was originally published in “The Stone” series of the New York Times (on-line), on Dec. 26, 2010, and is also available here along with responses by readers.   Thanks to Roger Crisp for inviting me to post it here, and to the NYT for permission. Copyright held by the NYT.)

We are in a season traditionally devoted to good will among people and to the renewal of hope in the face of hard times.  As we seek to realize these lofty ideals, one of our greatest challenges is overcoming bitterness and divisiveness.  We all struggle with the wrongs others have done to us as well as those we have done to others, and we recoil at the vast extent of injury humankind seems determined to inflict on itself.  How to keep hope alive?  Without a constructive answer to toxic anger, addictive cycles of revenge, and immobilizing guilt, we seem doomed to despair about chances for renewal.  One answer to this despair lies in forgiveness.

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