We are taught that forgiveness is a virtue, but what if it's not?
The Dalai Lama recently told a group of Americans that they should forgive the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. The Quran advises, "Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury." The Lord's Prayer says, "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."
Prof. Jeffrie Murphy, on the other hand, says that sometimes it's good to get even.
"For example, he said, when he was a professor in Minnesota, he used to offer a colleague a ride to work during the harsh winters," The New York Times reported. "The colleague then questioned his professional integrity in an unrelated matter, and refused to apologize.
" 'Did I forgive him?' he said. 'No. I got pleasure seeing him wait for the bus in the freezing cold while I drove by in my nice warm car.' "
Many of us are inspired when people forgive what seems unforgivable. Pope John Paul II forgave his would-be assassin in 1981. When a man walked into an Amish schoolhouse in 2006 and killed five young girls, their families quickly offered him their forgiveness. And more recently, Reeva Steenkamp's uncle forgave her boyfriend — South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius — who is charged with her murder.
These people may have found healing in forgiveness — but might there also be healing power in holding a grudge?
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LIMITS OF FORGIVENESS:
• When Forgiveness Isn't a Virtue
"Jim McNulty, a psychology professor at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, has been studying the costs versus the benefits of forgiveness. In a 2010 study, he gave diaries to 135 newlywed couples and asked each partner to answer this question every day for a week: 'Did your spouse do something today that you didn't like and did you forgive him or her?' He found that the day after forgiving a partner, people were 6.5 times more likely to report that the partner had again done something negative, compared with when there was no forgiveness." (Wall Street Journal)
• Reeva Steenkamp's uncle explains his decision