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Quotes: Forgiveness as transforming the past and heading into the future

"No life is beyond repair, and no damage so great as to not be forgiven. This in no way was to belittle your tortuous past, but merely to excuse you from constantly reliving it."
Ralph Minogue. Responsibility To, Responsibility For. Baltimore: AmErica House, 2000. p 224.

"Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past."
Lily Tomlin, quoted in Atlanta's Creative Loafing, quoted in "Wit and Wisdom" in The Week, Feb. 18, 2011, p. 21.

"[Forgiveness] can never mean as you're t' have your old feelings back again, for that's not possible. He's not the same man to me, and I can't feel the same towards him."
Adam Bede, quoted by George Eliot (Adam Bede, 1859, Chapter 29), quoted by William Ian Miller. Faking It. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. p 92.

"'Motion of the heart' is the right phrase. Forgiveness permits all parties to lay the past at last to rest and to proceed with a new beginning, uncontaminated by the infections of past wrongs, by thoughts of grievance and revenge. The great achievement of forgiveness is not so much that it absolves the one forgiven as that it cleanses the one who forgives."
Lance Morrow. Evil: An Investigation. New York: Basic Books, 2003. p 261.

"Skepticism about apologies is well understood. After all, apologies serve as indicators of moral codes, illuminating what is considered "right" and "wrong" in social behavior and interactions. * * * In this book, I argue that apologies are desired, offered, and given in order to change the terms and meanings of membership in a political community. * * * Grievances are connected to violated expectations of just treatment and respect, if not full inclusion. Yet grievances may be addressed without an apology as such. They may well simmer and even fuel group demands, but this does not mean that groups will ask for an apology. Instead, groups may demand simply that governments attend to their concerns without mention of apology. Governments may pass laws and implement policies but never apologize. What is it, then, that makes apologies desirable? Apologies, I argue, help to bring history into the conversation, providing justification for political and policy changes and reforms. Central to the addressing of contemporary grievances is the focus on the historical injustices that created the grievances. Apologies focus on a neglected past and demand that moral reflection be bought to bear and that some attempt at remedy be undertaken."
Melissa Nobles. The Politics of Official Apologies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. pp. x-xi.

"Take care of yourself," he said, shaking my hand.
"Do something good." I jingled my keys, and we paused in a friendlier freeze. This kind of time could be organic, too, I realized. Time wasn't created in equal portions; memory elongated certain moments and forgot others. My mind wanted to remember this, and his probably did, too.
"Bye, Roy," I said, finally breaking the spell.
"Hey," he called after me, "write me someday, okay?"
Never, I thought.
"Maybe I will," I said.
He grinned at that, and gave a jolly wave. I watched him recede into the fog, thinking that allowing him this moment was, in all the ways that matter, a kind of forgiveness.
Thomas Page McBee, Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man. (2017)

"Even if you can't undo the past, you can improve the future. Forgiveness lies not in fixing what can't be fixed but in the concept Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel called pikuah neshamah: saving a spirit — your own or that of others. It can translate into tikkun olam: repairing the world."
Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, rabbinic director of the National Center for Jewish Healing, quoted by Rahel Musleah, "The Dance of Forgiveness," Jewish Woman, Fall 2002. p 33.


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