Please take a moment to take in the following message:
What forgiveness is
"Forgiveness is a form of realism. It doesn't deny, minimize, or justify what others have done to us or the pain that we have suffered. It encourages us to look squarely at those old wounds and see them for what they are. And it allows us to see how much energy we have wasted and how much we have damaged ourselves by not forgiving. Forgiveness is an internal process. It can't be forced, and it doesn't come easy. It brings with it great feelings of wellness and freedom. But we experience this only when we want to heal and when we are willing to work for it. Forgiveness is a sign of positive self-esteem. We no longer identify ourselves by our past injuries and injustices. We are no longer victims. We claim the right to stop hurting when we say, "I'm tired of the pain, and I want to be healed." At that moment, forgiveness becomes a possibility-although it may take time and much hard work before we finally achieve it. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. It doesn't erase what happened, but it does allow us to lessen and perhaps even eliminate the pain of the past. The pain from our past no longer dictates how we live in the present, and it no longer determines our future. It also means that we no longer need resentment and anger as an excuse for our shortcomings. We don't need them as a weapon to punish others nor as a shield to protect ourselves by keeping others away. And most importantly, we don't need these feelings to identify who we are. We become more than merely victims of our past. Forgiveness is no longer wanting to punish those who hurt us. It is understanding that the anger and hatred that we feel toward them hurts us far more than it hurts them. It is seeing how we hide ourselves in our anger and how those feelings prevent us from healing. It is discovering the inner peace that becomes ours when we let go of the past and forget vengeance. Forgiveness is moving on. It is recognizing all that we have lost because of our refusal to forgive. It is realizing that the energy that we spend hanging on to the past is better spent on improving our present and our future. It is letting go of the past so that we can move on. We all have been hurt. And at one time or another most of us have made the mistake of trying to run away from the past. The problem is that no matter how fast or how far we run, the past always catches up to us-and usually at the most inopportune time. When we forgive, we are dealing with the past in such a way that we no longer have to run. For me, learning how to forgive wasn't easy. But I did learn, and my life is better for it - even here on death row."
Michael B. Ross Death Row Somers, Connecticut