Why forgive?

Essay by cleopatraredHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2006

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E. H. Chapin was quoted as saying: "Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury". I believe Chapin understood what the majority of the world ignores. How is forgiveness daring? Is revenge not a matter of honour? We tend to think of pardon as a naive act of pacifism, but it is more than letting the wrongdoer off easy. Surprisingly, there is no greater revenge than forgiveness. Yet we are too easily distracted by vengeance to consider the power of mercy.

Why do people choose to take revenge? After being harmed, it is only natural that we seek justice and retribution. We long for atonement, and revenge provides us with that feeling of satisfaction, however momentary. It gives us a false impression of deliverance and redemption. It tricks us into believing that we have won justice.

However, this short-lived contentment soon transforms itself into remorse and culpability. Thinking we have accomplished our objective, we have become no better than our offender. Revenge seems to be the more attractive choice at times because of its appealing promises of righteousness and honour, but it is merely an act on anger and resentment, far from rational thought. Therefore, we could never truly be satisfied with revenge, as it is not permanent.

Although we are more likely to expect revenge rather than forgiveness, there are those who understand the meaning of Chapin's quote and are rewarded with peace of mind. Contrary to what we may assume, they have not forgotten their injury. They have decided to cease being the victim and free themselves from the pain and grief. It is difficult to let go of the feeling of resentment because we humans have trouble ridding ourselves of evil. Everyone...