To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.*
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.**
(Paul the apostle)
Wisdom is forged in action. Beyond the mind and even the heart, it is both the way and the end. It does not wait for reciprocity. In this it is both vulnerable and unbalancing, though some might say foolish.
We may not be on the receiving end of the kind of treatment named by the Christian apostle Paul – compassion, kindness, humility, weakness, patience, forbearance, love – but we can “wear” them ourselves. Civil activist John Lewis encourages us in these words:
Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.^
If we are to be fools, let us be Wisdom’s fools.
(*David Whyte, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: John Lewis on Love, Forgiveness and the Seedbed of Personal Strength.)
(**Paul’s Letter to the Colossians 3: 12-14)
(John Lewis, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: John Lewis on Love, Forgiveness and the Seedbed of Personal Strength.)