Forgiveness is of course not a new concept. But what is comparatively new, Author McCall Smith points out, is the social function of apology and forgiveness, encouraged by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the subsequent attention paid to public apology by various governments around the world. This was particularly important in a culture that, in the name of accountability, encouraged us to blame and denounce others. 'When the popular press howls for blood, who is there to suggest that those who have done wrong should in due course be forgiven? he asks. This section contains inspiring stories of men and women who have been setting a standard in their willingness in some cases to forgive and in others to express regret for their past actions and attitudes as a way forward for their countries. One of the most remarkable stories from Northern Ireland, among the many that have contributed alongside the political process to a new day there, is the powerful experience of Richard Moore and his family.

He forgave the soldier who blinded him

The Dalai Lama, Richard Moore and Charles InnesThe Dalai Lama, Richard Moore and Charles Innes

As a ten-year-old, Richard Moore from Derry/Londonderry was struck at close range and blinded by a rubber bullet shot by a British soldier. Only a few months earlier his uncle was killed on Bloody Sunday, leaving eight children and a pregnant wife. Yet Richard, growing up never heard either parent say an angry word about the soldier who shot him.

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