Nelson Mandela is undoubtedly one of the outstanding figures of the twentieth century. His gracious leadership will long be an inspiring example. Richard Holloway talks of standing outside the cell Mandela occupied on Robben Island for so many years - "The enormity of forgiveness flowing from such conditions is impossible to understand. It is the insanity of grace. ("On Forgiveness", Canongate, 2002)
Holloway talks about forgiveness, particularly in the light of those situations in which we need to 'just forgive' in order to escape being completely taken over by the horrors of what has happened.
Moses established a system of proportionate response - Exodus 21 - an eye for an eye, and all that stuff. Holloway points points out that "One of the most outrageous things that Jesus ever attempted was to replace this sane and carefully calibrated response to injustice with a system of non-resistance." Jesus suggested going second miles, giving away extra items of clothing and turning other cheeks.
This forgiveness thing is not easy, but it does need to be tackled and, in the end.ased on forgiveness works much better than one based on seeking revenge.