Biblical scholar James Robinson points out that Jesus understood that to do otherwise was to lead to a never-ending cycle of violence, and the only way to break this cycle was through forgiveness. In my own writings, I have said,
Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you, so that you may become sons of your Father, for he raises his sun on bad and good and rains on the just and the unjust.
-- Q 6:27-28, 35c-d, Matthew 5:44-45.
And what if they do not return our kindness? Consider how unfortunate they are to be so locked in their views that they cannot even be reasonable or considerate. Let us not return their lack of respect with our own, for this will only cause a downward spiral.Professor Robert Axelrod has run simulations of ethical evolution and found there is actually a logical functionality to forgiveness. In describing a simulation where various behavioral features evolve based on what is most successful, Axelrod says (bold mine),
-- The Noble Conspectus, Chapter 1: Diversity.
What accounts for TIT-FOR-TAT's robust success is its combination of being nice, retaliatory, forgiving and clear. Its niceness prevents it from getting into unnecessary trouble. Its retaliation discourages the other side from persisting whenever defection is tried. Its forgiveness helps restore mutual co-operation. And its clarity makes it intelligible to the other player, thereby eliciting long-term co-operation.
-- Robert Axelrod, http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/1/1/review1.html
And now to the point of today's post. I have found an excellent short article describing the Dalai Lama's discussions on the subject of forgiveness...