In this article, I hope to show how Forgiveness is the engine of Progress. I think first of an individual Case. A dearly beloved of mine went through the messiest of divorces. For months, for more than a year, he literally raved about “her” this and “her” that. You would never know that he had any other concern than his spouse, now gone, now lost, now to be moved beyond.

It is that "moving beyond" that forgiveness makes possible. I have already introduced the completely obvious fact that forgiveness is only secondarily social. Let me explain in more detail.

Jesus had it right

It’s a very simple prayer, the one Jesus taught his disciples, but we still miss the point. The central lines of the prayer say "forgive us”. But who are they addressed to? They are not addressed to the person or group that was wronged. They are addressed, in this case, to Abba, the familiar Aramaic word for father Jesus used.

This can only mean that forgiveness, however you slice it, is a transcendent act. Even in a world where transcendence is here and now, immanent, this prayer is an internal act, something we do individually. We may say Abba forgave us. We may say God forgave us. But we could also say our higher self forgave us.

Forgiveness is internal event

The transaction in the prayer is our forgiveness in exchange for our forgiveness of others, of those who did us wrong.

Many are so used to saying this prayer by rote that they may have said this a thousand times without reflecting on it. If it actually works it is the very key to progress.

My subject in the first paragraph was literally stopped in his tracks by that messy divorce. I do not know if he actually said the words of the prayer but he has, years afterward, come to cloture and moved ahead with his life.

That is what progress is, at least the start of progress.


To actually achieve progress it is necessary to do what is only possible if and when forgiveness exists and is known and appreciated. I refer to a consideration of the stepping stones to a better existence for oneself and for the planet.

The consideration of values – of tolerance, helpfulness, and democracy – is the second step in achieving progress.

To say such a thing requires a caveat. I am talking about things that are universal in nature. What I say is hardly gospel truth. Such truth is what each individual already possesses, as conscience, as freedom, as will, and as one who engages in expressions and actions.

As I go forward, I will examine just how we can imagine a world where there is a universal affirmation of things that are already universally present in all.