Forgiveness is the Key to Freedom

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder

Many around the world expected a civil war with the transition from apartheid to democracy in 1994.
Instead they got the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and they still refer to this transition as a
miracle. Archbishop Desmond Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which the
perpetrators of atrocities and violence and their victims could tell their stories.
Many were granted amnesty. By unburdening themselves both victims and perpetrators were able to
work through their hurts into healing.

Desmond Tutu has the moral authority, compassion and empathy that we should all emulate and
believes that forgiveness gives us the capacity to make a new start. It is the grace by which you enable the
other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. In the act of forgiveness we are declaring
our faith in the future of a relationship and in the capacity of the wrongdoer to change.
How can we not forgive those who have hurt, criticised or condemned us in our personal lives, when
the leaders of our country paved the way for forgiveness on a national scale? There are people among us
who have borne unbelievable suffering and yet are not held by bitterness or thoughts of revenge. They
have transformed their experience into something truly beautiful and have developed a deep sense of
love and compassion.

Whether you inflict harm or have yourself been hurt, both parties feel the pain. Both are hurt and need
to give or receive forgiveness. Admitting wrong and asking for forgiveness restores a relationship.
Forgiveness liberates us and sets us free and is rooted in making peace with the past. On finding the
strength to forgive we transform from being victims into survivors.

When US President Bill Clinton asked Nelson Mandela why he had invited his jailors to his
inauguration, his reply was “I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long.
But,” he said, “when I felt that anger well up inside of me I realised that if I hated them after I got outside
that gate, then they would still have me.” Mandela smiled and he said, “I wanted to be free so I let it go”.