t has become of great interest to me that prisons are a prime place in society where the great questions of our human condition converge â€“ spiritual questions of truth and falsehood, life and death, human worth and dignity, purpose and meaning, good and evil, guilt and forgiveness. It wasnâ€™t until he found himself imprisoned that Alexander Solzhenitsyn awakened to the realization that the dividing â€œline between good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.â€ Moral imperfection and a tendency to hurt other people is as much a part of our human condition as is our subsequent sense of guilt and desire to be forgiven â€“ whether we give voice to that desire or not.
On the backside of our own need for mercy and forgiveness is our need to forgive others. It is not a need we feel, but it is a real need nonetheless – something we need to do for ourselves even if not for the benefit of the person who has aggrieved us. By forgiving a person who has afflicted or tormented me I am first of all refusing to let the wrong and evil that I am suffering to control my life – my thoughts and my emotions. Such uncalled for forgiveness is a spiritual not a rational act, by which I detach myself from the anger and violence of resentment and retaliation.
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