"Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done. Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek. It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous. Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed. Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.” -Desmond Tutu
The above quote is from The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu. Both Desmond and his daughter Mpho helped facilitate the reconciliation process in South Africa, and from this experience created the fourfold path of forgiving. In essence, when we reach out and connect with one another—when we tell the story, name the hurt, grant forgiveness, and renew or release the relationship—our suffering begins to transform.
One of the challenges is moving from concept into practice. Numerous times I've said to myself that I've forgiven someone (or let something go), when in reality it's far from the truth. More often, I've fallen into some kind of conditional trap, wherein, I'll only forgive when the other person has apologized. What struck me from The Book of Forgiving is the importance of recognizing our shared humanity—that inherently we are all good and flawed, and realizing that we may never understand the motivations for the choices/behaviour of others.
I believe there's an incredible connection between forgiveness, transformation and freedom, and that our capacity to forgive may in fact be the salve to contentious times we live in.