10 Pages


Forgiveness is, fi rst and foremost, a social practice. As such, it is governed by social and, in particular, by moral norms. In the Handbook of Forgiveness, the editor Everett L. Worthington Jr. describes forgiveness as an ‘art’.1 Indeed, forgiveness is a social practice that is both uncommon and diffi cult to perform-and the latter aspect may be used to explain the former. When a person has deliberately harmed or wronged another person and where the latter recognizes the intention, this person will typically feel resentment or anger. While some of those having suffered such wrongdoing will try to prevent their victimization by responding with aggression and revenge, others will feel humiliated and suffer damage to their self-respect. But when the offender and his or her victim can engage in a communicative process about forgiveness and actually achieve it, the possibly disastrous effects of aggressive revenge or victimization can be prevented or cured. No wonder that forgiveness is commonly considered a desirable practice and the disposition to forgive is considered a virtue.