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.  

The Dhammapada


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 have forgiven.  

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. ml

More resources on forgiveness:  

Steve Taylor on forgiveness



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”

(TED Talk video)



Forgiveness and partner control

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.  


Unconditional forgiveness

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.