I have been marinating my anger in a sauce of forgiveness lately and, I have to say, that the taste is much better.
My old age and a year of quiet isolation have both contributed to softening my hard edges and soothing my impulses. The past year has thrown me a solid rope to pull me out from the river of stubbornness. Forgiveness is an essential element in all major religions, but its price is highly variable. My advice to anyone, though, is not to wait too long to forgive yourself and others. As Maya Angelou says: “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”
There is no surer way to cleanse your soul and spirit. I forgive, therefore I gain and I give.
It has been a profound experience to reflect on my life and the many people who have played such an essential role in making me who I am and bringing out the best in me, even those times when it may have been a lengthy process.
On many such meanderings down memory lane, I stumbled over rocks in my past, realizing I had missed something essential, that I had lost an opportunity to show compassion and humility. I was in equal parts sorry and grateful for the chance to learn something and to correct my past mistakes or missed opportunities. As I write to my loved ones and my closest friends, I would appreciate the chance to hear about other moments that have stuck with you where I was wrong or treated you unfairly.
As William Blake observed: “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend,” and I know there have been moments of anger where I missed the chance to show compassion.
I hope to be tested constantly, to leave behind my anger and, instead of defending such emotions, to submit and melt the sword of anger into a jewel of kindness and compassion.
Compassion and forgiveness are far more powerful and rewarding human instincts.
Hassan bin Youssef Yassin
As I move down this path, I am surprised to realize how I could have restrained my anger earlier, but I also do not want it to go away entirely because I would not have these opportunities of compassion and forgiveness, the pleasure and humility of bowing down today. It has truly been a year of reflection for me, looking at things I missed and moments of life where I should have been better. There is so much to discover within ourselves.
We have heard many times about the power of saying sorry and forgiving others, but we do not realize its true power until we practice it. I have been able to acknowledge my mistakes and to show people how deeply I care about them.
By realizing that my anger is an aberration, I have become free. Compassion and forgiveness are far more powerful and rewarding human instincts. I thank you all and I ask you to forgive me if I have not told you that I am sorry before. As the famous theologian Reinhold Niebuhr put it with such clarity and simplicity: “Forgiveness is the final form of love.”
- Hassan bin Youssef Yassin worked with Saudi petroleum ministers Abdullah Tariki and Ahmed Zaki Yamani from 1959 to 1967. He headed the Saudi Information Ofﬁce in Washington D.C. from 1972 to 1981, and served with the Arab League observer delegation to the UN from 1981 to 1983.