Nelson Mandela was an amazing man who lived by example. Even after being imprisoned for years, he forgave those that wrongly put him there. In his book, “8 habits of Love”, Nelson Mandela introduced a forgiveness and reconciliation agenda when he took his place of leadership in South Africa.
Anyone who had committed a crime in the prior regime would be forgiven. But they had to confess it in court before their victims.
For example, a police officer in South Africa killed an innocent man. After his widow testified in the trial and identified that officer who had murdered her husband, she said to the officer “I forgive you”. As she crossed the floor to give the killer an embrace the officer became so overcome with emotion that he fainted.
Forgiveness is a powerful emotion. I see this daily in my work with men who have abused. During DVSD dialogues, I have witnessed survivors say to an offender “I can see that you are working very hard to change your life. I hope that you have forgiven yourself for what you have done so that you can move on”. The emotions that take over the men are powerful.
Just as hate and domestic violence are learned behaviors, learning to forgive others and ourselves is also learned. It is a gift that can change a life.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Mandela and Thank You.