Jonathan Lockwood Huie, known as the “Philosopher of happiness,” once said: “Forgive others – not for the sake of those who have hurt you, but because you deserve peace.” 

When you let go of your emotions and forgive others, your mind opens up instead of being stuck on resenting who has wronged you.

The story below will serve as a testament to that statement.

 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s first female president, was either exiled or arrested and imprisoned before getting elected. Whenever she was at the brink of despair, she would think that one day she would be able to defeat her political enemies and subject them to the same agonies she was suffering. However, a peculiar experience caused her to have a change of heart.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, during a state visit to Brazil, April 2010. (Agencia Brasil/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0)

One day, while she had business to attend to near a village, she suddenly heard gunshots. Weser, her experienced bodyguard, immediately pushed her to the ground. Although her life was saved, the stray bullet took Weser’s life. She later discovered that the shooter was the bodyguard’s neighbor, a young man named Asa who was hired to assassinate her.

Thirteen years later, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the village again and found Weser’s mother delivering food to Asa’s mother. She asked why Weser’s mother would do that after all the hurt she had gone through, and the mother replied, “After the incident 13 years ago, Asa ran away without saying a word. His mother is getting ill, she has nothing to eat, and is destitute without her son providing for her.”

Sirleaf could not help but remind the kind mother what had happened, “But they are our enemies! Her son killed our beloved Weser!” The mother’s reply surprised the president even more: “It’s water under the bridge, now. Returning hatred with hatred just intensifies the need for revenge.” The mother’s words provided Sirleaf with a profound lesson: Liberia, a war-torn country, is in terrible need of forgiveness, not hatred!

Since then, Sirleaf has forgiven her former enemies and gained sympathy and support from all Liberians, so much so that she became the first female elected president in African history. She built up her bright future on her own by forgiving and being kind to her enemies – this is proof of how powerful forgiveness can be, especially the one stemming from kindness.

People full of darkness will never treat others well, as their hearts will be held hostage by hatred. Its fire would make anyone lose their mind, as it is like a double-edged sword, which not only cuts others but also harms its owner.

On the other hand, tolerant people who are willing to forgive others will emit the radiant light of compassion and peace, which, in turn, illuminates everyone around them. Once people harbor no feelings of resentfulness, they will feel peace blooming from the bottom of their hearts. These kinds of people will be blessed, and the road will be paved out before them. 

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