Forgiveness is an important, frequently misunderstood human experience. Once an individual experiences being hurt or wronged by someone, the feeling of anger or resentment becomes the natural reaction. The idea of forgiving the offender seems impossible, inequitable, and perhaps too strenuous to even consider. However, when one forgives, they become their own source of healing. Without forgiveness, one becomes incapable of restoring their sense of preservation and well-being. The definition of forgiveness does not include excusing or forgetting offenses, but it involves the ability to realize when to take action and when to let go of grudges. When forgiveness becomes a part of one's daily routine, they benefit on not only an individual level, but also a societal level.
Sin results in an individual's mistake, as forgiveness defines an individual's character. For instance, in the novel 'The Scarlet Letter,' Nathaniel Hawthorne conveys the theme of forgiveness using Hester Prynne, a young woman who commits adultery. Hester understands that she has sinned and accepts the consequences of her actions by placing emphasis on the brilliant crimson 'A' that resides on her chest. As the story progresses, Dimmesdale, a Puritan minister who fathers the illegitimate child with Hester, forgives her as well as himself after the torture of concealing his feelings. Dimmesdale demonstrates the feat of both liberation and love on his side. Hester forgives herself in addition to forgiving Dimmesdale; even when he abandoned and denied her. Later, society views Hester not as an outcast, but as talented for her skills as a weaver. Roger Chillingworth, the man Hester had dishonored, does not agree that her crime merits scolding her in front of society. Many Puritans turn to say that the letter does not symbolize 'adultery,' but rather 'able.' The novel concludes with Hester forgiving herself, along with the strict community that had once shamed her.
Actively opening oneself up to forgiveness fosters exceptional opportunities and an abundance of benefits. According to Kathleen Lawler in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, forgiveness proves to be a feeling-focused coping mechanism that aids in reducing health-related risks and further improve health status (2008). Correspondingly, the benefits of forgiveness show to extend far beyond the dissipation of anger. In another journal pertaining to social psychology, Ann Macaskill suggests that when we forgive, we become a source of our own healing (2002). Additionally, in the American Psychological Association publication, Kirsten Weir's research indicates that forgiveness significantly impacts mental health outcomes; thus, relating to diminished symptoms of depression, major psychiatric disorders, and decreased mortality rates (2017). Undoubtedly, forgiveness plays a vital role in an individual's health while lack thereof increases risks. In an article by Charles Stone, he informs his readers that unforgiveness is conceptualized as a stress reaction (2019). Stone's evidence further proves as an individual holds on to grudges, they carry a burden on their shoulders of anger and resentment rather than forgiving and not allowing those grudges to define them. In other situations, forgiveness aids in retaining harmony in relationships. A study published by Loren Toussaint in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine on 'Forgive to Live: Forgiveness, Health, and Longevity,' states, in relationships, the absence of forgiveness leads to settling conflict significantly improbable (2011). Forgiveness in a relationship provides an individual and their significant other with the tools to move forward together and leave perceived transgressions behind.
Fortunately, forgiveness permeates throughout society. The Civil War, fought between the Northern and Southern states, showcased the bitter feelings men could have towards each other. Despite the heinous war, eventually, the nation healed because citizens with different backgrounds and beliefs forgave each other. It is disclosed on MSU Extension's website in an article titled 'The Importance of Forgiveness' that without forgiveness, there would be an endless destructive chain of suffering (2018). Without the nation coming together, this destructive chain of suffering would never have ended. Because forgiveness eliminated division, our nation truly became The United States of America.
Research establishes that forgiving too willingly erodes dignity and causes an increase in relationship problems leaving significant others displeased. David Bedrick proclaims on his website Psychology Today that urging forgiveness disregards how anger naturally increases after someone experiences the feeling of hurt and generally requires integration (2014). Bedrick also pronounces anger possesses raw power that aids in allowing individuals to take action for themselves; this results in the construction of morale (2014). However, forgiveness is essential for prosperity, and by holding on to anger, one suffers because sorrow is intensified. Kim Cameron published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, forgiveness means letting go of anger, instead of allowing it to eat at an individual's soul (2002). In other words, while one might dream of the satisfaction of retaliation; the payback associated with anger does not provide contentment. Mason Turner, author of the article The Health Benefits of Forgiveness, believes forgiveness heals individuals from their past experiences with anger (2018). Therefore, the power of forgiveness trumps any form of vexation.
In the final analysis, forgiveness can be defined as a logical outcome of living life with consciousness and awareness. If one stays aware of the bigger picture when someone disrespects them, they comprehend how their own issues have influenced them. Like Eric Turner mentions in his article Medium, the ability to forgive others and apply those experiences to foster you into greater being is invaluable (2017). Altogether, individuals should seek to view everyone and everything, including themselves, with forgiveness.