In a little over a week, the Jains will celebrate Kshamavani Parv, which means, “Forgiveness Day” . It is one of the most significant days for the followers of Jainism, as it is the day of forgiving and seeking forgiveness.
Corrie Ten Boom lived peacefully with her father and sister in Holland. This peace was disturbed when World War II started. Hitler began his final disposal of the European Jews. Thousands of Jews were imprisoned, sent to concentration camps and gassed to death. The ten Booms provided refuge to hundreds of Jews in Holland. The helpless people were hidden in their attic, fed and helped to escape.
Hitler's army arrested the Ten Boom family and put them in a concentration camp. The father died shortly afterwards. Corrie and her sister Betsie suffered untold ignominy under the Nazis. They were stripped naked and made to walk before the leering guards. They were beaten, kicked, starved, crushed and broken. Betsie died in the concentration camp. Corrie survived the atrocities, sustained by her faith.
After the war was over, Corrie was released. At Munich, she talked about God's forgiveness She pleaded with her audience to practice the spirit of forgiveness, which sets one free and which is the sole key to a happy life. Suddenly she saw the face of a man very familiar to her and immediately the memory of her sister Betsie and herself in the concentration camp, the shameful treatment meted out to them by this man surfaced. As she was plagued by these painful memories, the man who had ruthlessly murdered Betsie came to Corrie and extended his hand to her, "Fraulein, thank you for the message of forgiveness. You talked about concentration camps. I was in charge of one of those. I have accepted God's forgiveness. But now, I need your forgiveness too!"
Corrie froze with horror. Just a few minutes ago, she had preached on forgiveness, and now she was unable to forgive herself! She prayed for strength and the will to forgive. No sooner had she prayed than she felt an overwhelming power rush through her system. She grasped the extended hand of the former Nazi guard and hugged him, "Brother," she cried, "I forgive you, with all my heart!"
As I go online I see dozens of video makers going overboard on whipping up hate, “Remember the British! Remember the Mughals!” Remember! Remember! Remember! But what we need to do now is to learn to forget. There’s no point hugging a US president or a British prime minister and then reminding the people of previous hurts by the people they represent. Inside a hug are these unspoken words, ‘we forgive’!
Let every day be a Kshamavani Parv, and every hug an act of granting and seeking forgiveness! Remember Gandhiji’s words, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong..!"
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at [email protected]