I still find that forgiveness is a difficult word. I've been working with the concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation for some years now, and I'm still not sure what it actually means. There are some very academic concepts on forgiveness and reconciliation, but the bottom line is that there is no academic theory that truly covers it – you can only see it and experience it for yourself – and for each person it's a little different. For example: Does forgiveness come first, and then reconciliation, or vice versa? Are there actions that are unforgivable? And if this is so, why have some victims of cruel human rights violations reached inner peace and don't feel the need to seek vengeance? Is it possible to forgive if the perpetrators don't show any regret? Can you forgive yourself, if you regret but the victim won't accept your request for forgiveness? However, if we want to build a reconciled, peaceful society, it always starts with listening to each other.
What does "forgiveness" mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Inga Seifert has an MA in Political Science, specialising in Regional Studies of Latin America. She is a dialogue practitioner and peace worker.