“Forgiveness” by John Greenleaf Whittier
My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!
It is interesting to think that pride, not injury or injustice, prevents a man from forgiving. How often have you heard a person say: “I could never forgive him for what he did to me/her/them/us/etc.” In saying this the person has judged certain wrongs to be beyond forgiveness. And in so doing he binds himself to that which he refuses to forgive through hatred, rather than freeing himself and perhaps more significantly, the world from it…through love.
6 thoughts on “Forgiveness”
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It is something to recognize the thoughts that arise when such names as O.J. Simpson, Hitler, or someone we have a problem with are spoken. Recognizing and observing what is present in our experience whether it be hatred, judgment, pride, forgiveness and love is revealing. Recognizing our first flush of feeling is ok and vital to see where the necessary change in heart needs to be. We each play a crucial part in providing intercession for our world absolving it from the syndemic effects of hatred, judgement and false pride.
Understanding is a vital key in this!
Sometimes a person may say “All I have left is my pride.” And yet the natural dignity experienced by a man or woman of integrity is not some fragile commodity to be fought for lest it be stolen or destroyed. It is bestowed as a natural aura of righteousness and cannot be taken away. No one, in that sense, can separate us from the rich sense of our own meaning and value – no one but ourselves as it turns out! And so much depends upon the deep and full attitude of forgiveness for others, where the sense of being wronged is released. Here is a basis for true pride – a quality little known in this world for so long!
Well said by you and Mr. Whittier!
It is a waste of our life to spend it failing to forgive. I think you have a good point about pride being a primary reason why people do refuse to forgive others.