Forgiveness For World Peace
Being bitter is a sign of emotional failure; for being authentically successful, we need to learn to forgive.
In March 2008, Priyanka Vadra, daughter of the youngest Prime Minister of India, Lt. Rajiv Gandhi, stunned the entire nation by the news of her private visit to the special women cell at Vellore Jail to meet Nalini Sridharan. Nalini is undergoing a life-term as one of the person involved in the assassination of Priyanka’s father on May 21, 1991. In the words of this brave daughter, “it was my way of coming to peace with the violence & loss that I have experienced….”
Many years ago, Gladys Stein, the widow of Graham Steins, a Christian father working charitably for local community who was murdered brutally, offered her forgiveness to the murderer of her husband publicly. Mahatma Gandhi promptly forgave the man who attacked on him with lethal motives. This kind of demonstration of courage and the power of forgiveness that paves way to world peace is rarely seen. While it is inspiring, it is important to know what is forgiveness and its importance in our lives too.
Hypothetically, many would promptly agree that “an eye for an eye” would make the whole world blind. But how many would ponder and realize on how difficult and complex the act of forgiveness is. Most of the people consider forgiveness as something to be given to the other, not knowing that forgiveness is something one does in one’s heart to be at peace with oneself. It’s when one refuses to allow past clouding our present, when we refuse to keep on feeling negative-be it anger or unhappiness of any kind- that we need to forgive.
In one of the African tribes, there is a tradition that when someone kills somebody, (s)he is given death penalty by the council of that community. A day is decided when the whole village gathers on the sea shore, the victim’s whole family is present there, and the offender is to be hurled in to the ocean, hands and legs securely chained, so (s)he cant save himself/herself by swimming out of the ocean. This is death penalty by drowning the offender. But they have a very interesting ritual or rule in this process- only victim’s family has the authority and liberty to save the accused. So while the person is getting drowned, helplessly, the victim’s family has the choice-either allow the offender to drown and die OR save him.
It’s said that if victim’s family save the offender, their grief is over on that day and they find peace. If they allow offender to die, their mourning continues for lifetime. This is the power of forgiveness.
We all mess up our relationship sometime in the process of growing. Many times, before we become aware and mature, we take lot of actions that hurt our beloved ones. This is a common happening in our lives. What is uncommon is our ability to be free from bitterness and unhappiness because of past. No formal education or degrees or “success” can guarantee a person this inner ability to forgive in its true sense. I feel sad when I see people carrying the burden of the past that doesn’t even exist today. People change but our prejudices remain. What a futile life it is that can not learn, unlearn and learn continuously.
We respect all the people who make such civilized choices. It reflects how spiritual these people are- may their tribe increase on our planet. The point to ponder is- is World Peace possible until and unless two individuals, two communities, two countries learn to forgive?
Godspeed to World Peace!
- Written by Sanjiv Shah