The Book of Forgiving

Publisher: William Collins (27 Mar 2014)
ISBN-10: 0007512872
ISBN-13: 978-0007512874

Desmond and Mpho’s proposition is simple: we all mess up and do things that harm others, we all face struggles and challenges and receive harm from others – we hurt, we get hurt, we feel aggrieved – but what happens next may determine much in our health and wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of others. They speak with the reader in a companionable way and invite reflection on how skilled we are in seeking and offering forgiveness as a means of restoration and healing.

Having overseen the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and communicated with experts in reconciliation around the world, Desmond Tutu and his daughter know more than most about forgiveness, in the context of some of the most difficult of human circumstances. They see forgiveness and self forgiveness as keys to creating acceptance, responsibility, peace and understanding and as mediators of central significance in human relationships.

A Fourfold Path

They have written simply about profoundly complex matters and from their extensive experience have seen the value of a simple fourfold path of healing, from telling the story, to naming the hurt, to granting or seeking forgiveness (which includes restitution) and then renewing or releasing relationship. They accompany their readers along this path and their emphasis on finding and telling the story of our experience and naming our hurts, including those we have given, connects well with ideas we are familiar with in recovery. They then consider how to step beyond these stories of the past towards healing or releasing relationships with ourselves and others.

They are well aware of the need for justice but see this as better served by restitution than retribution and consider this as pivotal in every-day relationships. They also comment on what they have seen of the role of forgiveness in creating belonging and community, what we might call social inclusion and take the view that through our small personal gestures we all have something positive to contribute towards creating a more healthy society.

‘We take care of our world by taking care of each other – it is as simple and difficult as that … we change the world when we choose to create a world of forgiveness in our own hearts and minds … every hand that extends itself in a gesture of forgiveness is a hand working towards the creation of peace in the world.’

I’ve found this book an enlightening and helpful experience and am happy to recommend it to others.

Glenn Roberts