“Without forgiveness, there is no future.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Yesterday, as we focused on the detainment of Matador writer Sarah Shroud and two other hikers in Iran, a celebration was taking place for International World Forgiveness Day.

This event, led by the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance, was held in San Rafael, CA. Honorees included well-known spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, human and civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, and Elwin Wilson, a former Ku Klux Klan member who violently attacked Lewis 50 years ago.

In case you missed the story when it was on ABC News a few months ago, here’s a clip of Wilson’s apology to Lewis:

If the tale of a former violent racist asking one of the people he attacked for forgiveness doesn’t move you, an even larger inspiration drew honors at the event: Christopher Rodriguez.

A prime example of the pain that Oakland, CA continues to feel as time marches on, early last year, Rodriguez was hit by a robber’s stray bullet during a piano lesson. This bullet paralyzed him from the waist down. I remember the event vividly, as it happened about 4 blocks from where I used to live, at a piano store in a “good” part of Oakland.

Rodriguez has since shook hands with the gunman and “I forgive you.”

Rodriguez has since shook hands with the gunman and said, “I forgive you.”

If a 10-year-old boy has the capacity to forgive a man who took his ability to walk, and we pray and hope that the Iranian government will “forgive” and release Shroud and the other backpackers, can’t those of us who have had less extreme occurrences say these same three words to those who have caused us pain?

Remember, you also have to forgive yourself in the process.

Do you have an inspiring story of forgiveness? Share your stories below.

Feature photo: ruthieonart