If we continue to harbour hatred, we are allowing the heart to fester in acidic thoughts that slowly and surely eat us away.
OF late, friends have been referring to me as Bapak Jokowi. I am told I look uncannily like him, and the match would be perfect if I wore a white shirt and rolled up my sleeves.
I guess it is okay to look like somebody who is generally well regarded by the people, but it would be quite a nightmare if we were to bear resemblance to some of the most hated people on this planet, alive or dead.
Jokowi has been creating waves with his new approach as president of Indonesia. His simple lifestyle, and that of his family members, is refreshing in political circles.
One recent news item about him which piqued my curiosity was how he forgave the satay vendor who was detained by the police for allegedly defaming him online.
Jokowi forgave Muhammad Arsyad during a meeting with the satay vendor’s parents, Mursidah and Syafrudin, at the State Palace last Saturday.
“I forgive him 100%. I forgave him through his parents,” Jokowi said.
According to the report in The Jakarta Post, Jokowi also called on the public to learn from Arsyad’s case and promote decency and respect for others online.
Without moving into the realm of politics, I would like to share some thoughts about what it means to forgive, because it is something that affects all of us, whether we are powerful and famous, or just ordinary people.
The first thing about unforgiveness is it creates burdens that can wear us down.
It could be something frivolous like a quarrel with your girlfriend or a nasty encounter with a sales person. Or something more serious like a family dispute or a business deal gone awry.
Whatever the case, when we do not move on, we end up with a burden that gets heavier by the day.
A friend quipped the other day that when his wife gets angry with him over something, she becomes both “hysterical and historical”.
“Imagine, she is mad over something and I have to listen to her go on and on over things that happened years ago,” he said.
“I thought she had forgiven me.”
Those of you who follow my column know that I can be quite historical and sentimental. But the things I choose to remember are good things – precious memories that continue to inspire and make me live life to the fullest.
I choose not to remember the things that are negative, or have had hurtful implications, simply because they never lead to anything good.
In fact, even the people who have wronged us can turn out to be our best friends eventually under different circumstances.
But it will never happen if we look at them as though they are frozen in that particular period of time when we got hurt by what they said or did.
I believe that even the most racist people in this country are capable of change if they are touched by the right circumstances.
Imagine, for example, if a person who regularly goes on a tirade against people who are different, suddenly getting a new lease of life because the very people he condemned provided the organs and the blood to save his life.
As a cancer survivor, I know that while cancer affects many parts of our body, there is no such thing as “heart cancer” in the medical sense.
But an unforgiving spirit is like cancer of the heart.
If we do not know how to let things go, if we continue to harbour hatred, we are just allowing the heart to fester in acidic thoughts that slowly and surely eat us away – just like cancer.
> Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin agrees with Elton John that “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”, but feels an apology is oftentimes the necessary first step to true forgiveness.
>The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.