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Forgiveness, magic for the soul

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I am not going to preach on how you should not hold a grudge. I think you should absolutely hold a grudge. Feel frustrated, angry, betrayed, wronged, hurt, victimized… Express these negative emotions in ways that are not permanently damaging. Then, on a sunny day down the road, wake up to the golden rays, and let it all go.

Case in point. A little while ago I was involved in a minor car accident. While in traffic on an inclined intersection a lady’s car backed into me. I honked and honked but she kept coming. She was extremely confused and swore up and down that I hit her. I remained calm and told her that I could not have done that. In a hurried state we exchanged information and were on our ways.

A few hours later she called me and changed her story, saying the damage is small and she is not going to complain. After lunch she changed her story again and said her mechanic would have to assess and she will send me the bill. This time she claims she has video evidence from her rear view camera.

I remained calm and collected. Because truth was on my side. I know that on an inclined, uphill surface I would have to take my foot off the brake and deliberately step on the gas in order to hit her. Then why would I honk at her? In contrast, she must have put her car in neutral and did not keep her foot on the brake.

Long story short, the arguments were becoming unresolved and heading to a bad place for all involved.

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Then, one day I woke up and decided to forgive. I wrote her a nice message saying that she hit my car but I forgive her. I am happy no one was hurt and the damage was minimal. I wish she can be more careful in the future.

This was transformative! The lady called me soon after and admitted her wrong. She was working long hours and taking care of an aging mother who is not well. On the day of the accident she was taking her daughter to school. What’s more, she does have the habit of putting car in neutral and rest her foot. She thanked me for remaining calm and apologised for all the trouble. I wished her well and told her no one is perfect.

The magic was forgiveness. This person did me wrong, but we both needed forgiveness to set us free.

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Three years ago I visited Auschwitz. The iconic images of the terror of that place will stay with me forever. Afterwards, we waited for the bus by a wheat field and I picked an ear of wheat. People who burned in the camp, their ashes would have landed here. We who ate bread would have taken in those that perished so long ago. Through this cycle of material and energy the dead are reborn. We are them, and we want to be free.

I am Chinese, so I am indoctrinated to hate the Japanese. But I do not. I forgive that group of misguided fanatics who injured and killed my ancestral countrymen out of hatred and aggression. The Japanese right wing group play down their forefathers’ sins and place class A criminals’ spirit tablets in their national shrine. This is not my cross to bear. This is something the Japanese would have to resolve on their own. In time, they either learn from their mistakes or repeat them. For their sake, the rest of the world hope for the former.

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Some people leave unresolved emotions for a long, long, long time. They pass these down to the next generation and guilt trip them into carrying the burden, some times for thousands of years. I do not believe the refusal of forgiveness will lead to repent and self-examination of the perpetrators and eventually world peace.

Some people may choose to spit and swear every time a German walks down the street because of what Hitler and his goons did. What a waste of emotional energy and effort. For myself, I am too lazy to hate. Walk softly and carry a big stick of forgiveness, and hit those that offend us with an unexpected blow of good will.

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