People tend to think of forgiveness as “letting the other person off the hook.” Not so! Forgiveness is about an attitude toward the self and others that frees us to move forward instead of remaining stuck in suffering. While there are many differing philosophies about the source, purpose, and function of forgiveness, it is commonly considered a central tenet of spiritual life as well as psychological health, allowing for a future unburdened by negative emotions in response to perceived offenses. It can be cultivated by intentional practices of release or can develop through acceptance over time.
The International Day of Peace, which falls on Sept. 21 every year, serves as a reminder that only through unity and compassion can we right the wrongs engineered by war and violence. To do this, we must learn to forgive — and that can be the greatest challenge of all.
Stephen Mitchell’s gift is to breathe new life into ancient classics. In Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, he offers us his riveting novelistic version of the biblical tale in which Jacob’s favorite son is sold into slavery and eventually becomes viceroy of Egypt.