Forgiving the Unforgivable

As the world expresses outrage at the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, I notice people around me feeling shell shocked. Within myself, I feel how deeply these events hurt my heart. In the midst of all of this, what can we do?  Is there a place for love and forgiveness?  I believe there is.    

Am I suggesting that we forgive those who participate in terrorist attacks? Yes I am. 

Remember, forgiveness does not mean condoning, excusing or minimizing the hurt. Remember too, that forgiveness is not done for the other person; I do it for my own well-being.  I do it because I refuse to live as a victim and I refuse to see myself as powerless. Am I saying forgiveness is easy? No. I’m saying it’s possible, that we are capable of forgiving and that it’s in our best interest to do so. Without forgiveness, one thing is certain:  we will continue to perpetuate the cycle of anger, blame and retaliation and have more of the same.


Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for standing up for education and winner of the Nobel Peace Price, says forgiveness is the only way forward for peace and healing. I encourage you to read this excellent article about Malala that appeared in the Edmonton Journal shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attack.  Click here.  

At times like this, it is more important than ever that we forgive the unforgivable, including both offenses out in the world and those in our individual lives. We must remember that love is the most powerful force in the universe. When faced with darkness, we have the opportunity to shine light in the face of fear and hatred and affirm:

You and I are not separate. We are one. I cannot hurt you without hurting myself and you cannot hurt me without hurting yourself. I will turn hatred around by loving you even when your behavior is despicable. I will not condone what you have done and I will fully protect and defend myself, but I refuse to hate and I will not initiate violence. I will have compassion for whatever it was led you to act in this way. I will understand that you too have seen yourself as a victim. I will pray that you find your way back to the light of love and truth.

Trust in the power of love and stay on the path of forgiveness! This is what will ultimately bring about healing and peace for humanity.



About Eileen Barker

EILEEN BARKER has been writing and speaking on forgiveness, and guiding people who need to either forgive themselves or someone else, for many years. A practicing litigation lawyer who rejected the traditional adversarial role, Eileen has focused her practice on mediation, helping thousands of people resolve disputes outside of court. This work led her into a deep exploration of forgiveness as it relates to resolving conflict and making peace, both with others and oneself.

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