Reciprocity needs to be modified with compassion and forgiveness, otherwise it can
descend into barbarism, a cycle of destruction. An eye for an eye and a tooth for
a tooth leads to a land of blind toothless people.
It can often be considered a waste of energy to seek revenge or want to get even.
If someone is bad towards you, you don’t have to retaliate or react; you don't have
to respond in kind. To do so would make you as bad as them and you would generate
negative consequences in a similar way. To return bad for bad can easily cause the
situation to spiral out of control, leading to long-lasting trouble. It is better
to remain calm, peaceful and compassionate, so that you can deal with the situation
in an intelligent way and bring about a compassionate outcome for all concerned.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Nobody is perfect.
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and
pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
Jesus – Matthew 5:44
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Jesus – Luke 23:34 :- (
Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating, but by love. This is an eternal
truth. Overcome anger by love. Overcome evil by good. Overcome the miser by giving,
overcome the liar by truth.
3 'He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.' Those who think such
thoughts will not be free from hate.
4 'He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.' Those who think not
such thoughts will be free from hate.
173 He who overcomes the evil he has done with the good he afterwards does, he sheds
a light over the world like that of the moon when free from clouds.
All pious deeds, all gifts, are nothing compared to a loving heart.
P. Lakshmi Narasu – “The Essence of Buddhism”
If we forgive under the appropriate circumstances then we can move on past the difficulty
and resume a mutually beneficial working relationship. If we refuse to forgive then
we may lose the chance to rehabilitate and educate the wrongdoer.
There is no need to keep account of every little grievance. This is a pointless
waste of life that makes people unhappy and corrodes relationships.
You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.
Adlai Stevenson II
... when others provoke you, perhaps for no reason or unjustly, instead of reacting
in a negative way, as a true practitioner of altruism you should be able to be tolerant
towards them. You should remain unperturbed by such treatment. ... not only should
we be tolerant of such people, but in fact we should view them as our spiritual teachers.
When someone whom I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama – “Transforming the Mind – Eight verses on generating
compassion and transforming your life”
The process of forgiveness
To forgive is not to forget, condone or excuse the events that happened. But it
means to release the bad feelings you hold towards a person or yourself. It may
not come quickly or easily. You might not seek reconciliation with the person you
Forgiveness is conditional, not obligatory. You are under no obligation to forgive
someone who has wronged you. But there are often benefits to you if the conditions
are right and so you do feel able to forgive. The benefits may include a better
relationship with that person and more self-respect and happiness for you.
Conditions for seeking forgiveness:
• Seeing the wrong you have done
• Demonstrating that you see it (for example, through a sincere apology)
• Demonstrating that you are sorry
• A desire to put things right
• Changing (or promising to change) your behaviour.
Here is a link to the Al-Jazeera documentary “Bitter Root”.
“Two former Lord's Resistance Army commanders seek tribal justice in order to be
granted atonement for their crimes.”
Extracts from an interview with Arno Michaelis, a former White Supremacist leader,
and author of "My Life After Hate", on BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme, Thursday
9th March 2017
R4: Tell us first about your former self.
AM: I was involved in hate groups for seven years, I was a leader of a skinhead
gang and an organiser, I was also lead screamer in a white power metal band that's
created some music that's still doing harm today twenty years later.
R4: And what changed you?
AM: It was really a growing exhaustion that was happening during that seven years.
The biggest source of that exhaustion was when people who I claimed to hate treated
me with kindness. I had a Jewish boss, a lesbian supervisor, black and latino co-workers,
who treated me with kindness really when I least deserved it, and that really drove
home how wrong I was to hate people. And every day I'm grateful for their bravery
and the forgiveness that they had to practice in order to show me that kindness.
R4: Do you have a sense in a practical way of what it is, what could be done to
bring more people on the same journey that you've been on?
AM: Honestly I believe that people lash out at other people because they're hurting.
I think that all violence and hatred is rooted in suffering, so the more of us who
practice kindness and practice forgiveness on a daily basis, the greater the odds
that the next person out there on the verge of hurting themselves or hurting others
is reached and diverted from that path.
AM: We need to challenge the fear and ignorance behind the far right narrative,
but we need to keep it in mind that the people practising that narrative are human
beings as well.
Overcoming hatred and intolerance through peaceful means:
“Megan Phelps-Roper: I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here's why I left”
When we are in a cooperative relationship with somebody, there is a need to keep
them behaving cooperatively: to keep them committed to the endeavour, and playing
their part competently.
So from time to time, from our point of view, their behaviour may need to be corrected.
Teaching them about the problem, extracting a convincing promise from them to change
their ways, and forgiveness, may be a powerful way to do this. If they do not change
their ways, then we have the option of terminating the relationship, which may be
the most sensible idea.
Sometimes, the fact of being forgiven makes somebody feel grateful, and this gratitude
provides a motivation to change.
Moral high ground
To forgive someone can demonstrate and exemplify to them a better way to behave,
which they may then decide to emulate.
In mathematical models, unconditional forgiveness – forgiving all the time, no matter
what – is shown to be a bad idea. There is no incentive for erring people to change,
it leaves us open to being exploited, and it makes the world a worse place. Again,
in mathematical models, it is best to forgive most of the time, but not all the time.