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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

Well might you ask. You are right; I am quick with philosophy and slow with the more pragmatic advice. Very well, herewith find the first lesson of wrath: forgiveness.

Forgiveness is often difficult, if not for the injury suffered then for the injustice. When injured, the justice of our cause is often plain. The offender thus is often called or even compelled to repent. But if no visible injury is sustained (pride shows no scars) then no sympathy arises from others. So wounded pride is boiled in the midwatches of the night until it becomes a tasty dish of vengeance imagined. The only way to avoid this is to forgive, and to forgive quickly.

You might well ask why forgiveness – why not vengeance? First, vengeance is not always within your power. Next, when it is within your power, it is not always wise – indeed, a reputation for mercy impels agreement. But the true reason is this: vengeance belongs to God. If you take it, you are stealing from him. He does not look upon this kindly. Indeed, he is so unkind as to let you suffer the consequences of your vengeance – for vengeance breeds more vengeance. It is the devil’s own delight, and man’s misery.

Therefore one must forgive. But why so quickly? Surely one could savor the thought of vengeance without the action? Hypocrite! Thought is the birth of action. When stung by a bee, the poison is best removed quickly. So it is with forgiveness—best done quicklhy.

You will find this difficult. Indeed, you will find that oft you will need to forgive someone many times – for the same offense. As forgiveness is an act of divine love, it does not come easily. So it is well to practice it.

I find it best to make forgiveness public – or at least announce it to the forgiven. Thus all the powers of society will aid you in keeping forgiveness. Forgiveness unannounced is soon retracted; public forgiveness brings the aid of both friend and enemy.

Take heart, my young friend. The rewards of forgiveness are very great. You shall soon find it easier to do, and others find you easier to live with. Of far greater importance is this: God is most forgiving to those who forgive.

I remain,

In old age garrulous,

Isaac the Alchemist

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