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Ten Terrific Quotes on Forgiveness by Some Masters of the Craft

01 Feb
  1. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.  When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

  3. “Resentment is an act of self-hatred. Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” Nelson Mandela

  4. “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” John F. Kennedy

  5. “An eye for an eye will only make the world blind.” Gandhi

  6. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness behind, and forgive my captors, I would still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela

  7. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Gandhi

  8. “The first time we required forgiveness, if we were fortunate, we learned that even good people sometimes do bad things, and that having someone we loved get mad at us didn’t mean they didn’t love us. We had their unconditional love and that meant we would have their forgiveness, too.” Mister Rogers, from The World According to Mister Rogers: Important things to Remember, by Fred Rogers.

  9. “Forgiving is not the same as condoning. It must be done with the greatest respect for your own readiness.” Belleruth Naparstek from her audio program Anger & Forgiveness.

  10. “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love.” Mister Rogers, from The World According to Mister Rogers: Important things to Remember, by Fred Rogers.

So there they are, some of my favorite quotes on forgiveness, by some of my favorite people, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up at a time when leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy were alive, and in a suburb of Pittsburgh, where Mister Rogers’ wonderful programs for children began and were available, long before he went national.

Like many children of my generation, I was not permitted to watch the TV news programs, because of the violence, the riots, the war footage from Vietnam and the threat of nuclear war. Fortunately for me, my grandmother lived with us and had a TV in her room, where I did see those things, heard MLK speak and actually saw his, “I have a Dream,” speech. I loved his passion and his ideals and felt like I lost a friend or family member when he was killed.

I was a good kid, who usually did what I was told and never ‘made waves,’ but Mister Rogers taught me that we are all neighbors and what hurts one of us hurts all of us, that one person can make a difference and that once you learn something, you can’t go back to a time when you didn’t know it. So I marched and sent letters and carried signs. I marched for human rights and peace and to get the vote for 18-year-olds, who could be drafted, but who could not vote until they were 21. I burned my bra for women’s rights (my brothers said it didn’t matter much because it made such a small fire).Then my parents had to forgive my grandmother for letting me watch her TV.

The common thread among all my heroes, the leaders of that time and our time, like Nelson Mandela, is that they are all about forgiveness, but they never condoned or returned the monstrous behavior they forgave. Gandhi led a tireless, non-violent revolution that resulted in India’s sovereignty. Mandela spoke of how he forgave the people who kept him unjustly imprisoned in unimaginable conditions, and Mister Rogers told us it is hardest to forgive the ones we love, and the more we love them the harder it is to forgive them.  Belleruth brings it all home and helps us through it, pointing out the importance of our own readiness to forgive.