Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

Forgiveness is Strength

One thing that can be said with certainty about forgiveness is that it empowers the one who grants it, in a number of ways. Let’s say you’ve been wronged, and the person who wronged you has apologized. This individual clearly wants to be forgiven, and the only person with the power to do so is you.

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There are two ways to go with the power that comes with this situation. One way is to think like one of the greatest humanitarians of our time, Mahatma Gandhi. He once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” In other words, it takes great strength, regardless of how much power the situation gives you, to forgive. Bitterness and anger are easy, but forgiveness is difficult and requires great self-control.

Then again, you can go the other way when dealing with the position of power that forgiveness creates. Many people over the years have expressed this in a number of ways, perhaps none so eloquently or humorously as writers Oscar Wilde and Josh Billings, both of whom were noted for their sarcastic and witty way of looking at things. Billings said it simply when he wrote, “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.” Indeed, by forgiving, you show the one who has wronged you that whatever the wrong may have been, it did not matter to you.

Wilde, as was typical for him, put it somewhat more flowery fashion: “Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much.” Wilde had many enemies during his short life, and knew a thing or two about the need to forgive. It should be noted that he did not do so very often.

Perhaps the greatest quote that deals with the power realignment that comes with forgiveness came from our 35th President, John F. Kennedy. He said,

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” This may be the best advice on the topic, an harkens back to what your parents always told you (although you may not have realized it was sage advice at the time): “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”