Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Odd Thing About the Nobel Peace Prize

The Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize has upset China. Why didn’t the Nobel Committee award him the prize for literature, like they did to Winston Churchill (1953)? This would have made the Chinese people proud and their government more supportive to peace, probably.

This is not the first time the Nobel Peace Prize has ruffled feathers among sensitive people. Carl von Ossietzky’s prize in 1935 angered Hitler so much that he forbade all German nationals from accepting Nobel Prizes.

In 1975, Andrei Sakharov got the Nobel peace prize but Soviet Union did not allow him to go out of the country to collect the prize. His wife read the acceptance speech at Oslo. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi getting the prize upset the Burmese junta and she was kept under house arrest.

Nobel Peace Prize Often Controversial

Barrack Obama’s award in 2009 was attacked as being premature and politically motivated. A president of a nation at war, Barrack Obama, after getting the prize immediately intensified the war efforts rather than end either the Iraq or the Afghanistan war.

Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchú got her peace prize in 1992 and has later been criticized for falsifying her autobiography.

Three of histories most notorious dictators in the 20th century, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Benito Mussolini have been nominated for the peace prize. Harry Truman, the US president authorising the atomic bombs over Japan was also nominated for the peace prize as also Winston Churchill.

India’s Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize though he was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948, the year he died. The reason he was never given the prize was probably that till then the prize had been given primarily to Europeans and Americans and Gandhi represented a new kind of figure. This change of paradigm was beyond the narrow horizon of the Nobel selection committee then. They did try to make amends for this omission when they awarded the prize to the Dalai Lama and mentioned Gandhi.

Henry Kissinger (1973) definitely didn’t become an angel of Peace but rather continued being an angel of death with very dirty hands. Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat continued in their respective pursuits, which led to much discord later on.

Betty Williams (1976) was not very loving and peaceful towards George Bush. "Right now, I would love to kill George Bush. I don't know how I ever got a Nobel Peace Prize, because when I see children die the anger in me is just beyond belief. It's our duty as human beings, whatever age we are, to become the protectors of human life." 

A UK High Court judge decreed that the government could only send a copy of Al Gore’s (2007) film “An Inconvenient Truth” to every school if it only pointed out “nine scientific errors” and gave guidelines to counter his “one-sided views”. In his film, Al Gore demanded Americans to reduce electricity consumption at home. Gore’s August 2006 electricity bills revealed a consumption of 22,619 kilowatts – more than twice the average family consumption in USA.

What Do Nobel Peace Laureates Do With The Prize Money

Some give it almost entirely to their organization or to charity like Barrack Obama did

Baroness Bertha von Suttner (1905) gave almost all of it away to needy relatives, friends and good causes (Only a large pension from Andrew Carnegie helped her live somewhat financially worry-free).

Many Nobel laureates keep the money to themselves. The Mexican Garcia Robles (1982) openly declared that the money was for his family only. Martti Ahtisaari of Finland snubbed journalists by saying “What I do with my money is none of your business”. 

Finland's Martti Ahtisaari’s Nobel Peace Prize has its fair share of critics too. It has been called the Nobel War Prize by Dimitri K Simes of the Nixon Center. Johan Galtung, the Norwegian peace scholar of Transcend International rejects Ahtisaari's contribution by claiming that he "does not solve conflicts but drives through short-term solutions that please Western countries."

Some Nobel Peace Prize winners live by a very different set of values. Henri Dunant (1901) lived frugally and saved all the money in a Norwegian bank, beyond the reach of his creditors. William Randall Cremer (1903) lived modestly and gave all the prize money to the International Arbitration League. Jane Addams (1931), the first American Woman to get the prize gave all of it to her Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Albert Schweitzer (1952) used the money to expand his hospital at Lambaréné, adding a wing for lepers. President Anwar el-Sadat (1978) gave his prize money and royalties from his autobiography to his childhood village in the Nile Delta. Alva Myrdal (1982) kept enough of the prize money to hire a secretary as long as she lived and gave the rest to peace causes.

Father George Pire (1958) needed money for his relief organization for refugees "L'Europe du Coeur au Service du Monde". He wrote a letter to the Nobel Committee giving an account of his work. They eventually gave him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Henry Kissinger (1973) set up a scholarship fund for children of GIs who had died in the Vietnam War. Desmond Tutu (1984) created a fund to help South African blacks study in the USA. The Dalai Lama donated all the money, dividing it between those who are starving in various parts of the world, to leprosy programmes in India, to existing programmes on peace and to establish a Tibetan Foundation for Universal Responsibility

Unusual Candidates Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

  • Joseph Stalin, the dictator of Soviet Union, (not known to be very peace loving!) was nominated twice, in 1945 and 1948.
  • Benite Mussolini, or Il Duce, the Italian dictator was also nominated
  • Adolf Hitler, probably the most known 'baddie' of contemporary history was nominated in 1939
  • Bradley Manning, the US soldier in jail now for leaking massive amounts of sensitive documents to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks

Friday, 19 November 2010

What Does A Country’s National Anthem Reveal About The Country?

Flags furling and rows and rows of handsome uniformed soldiers marching to brass bands playing patriotic national anthems – this is probably the most common association a national anthem of any country has.

Does a country’s national anthem tell something about a country, bare the soul of the nation? Themes like freedom after bloody struggles, violent threats to outsiders are common as also a multi-racial, multi-lingual and even multi-religious world-view like in Nepal's new national anthem.

National anthems are usually very pompous and solemn affairs, which rouse emotions. Rather often they also resemble military marches. With a booster dose of patriotism any national anthem appeals to the passions of the people of the land. But, if we study the words of the national anthems of different countries, some words stand out as keywords and symbols of that particular culture.

National anthems have some typical themes.  Freedom from oppression, ancient land, our land is more beautiful and bountiful than others, we shall stand up and fight all aggressors, we shall drive away all enemies, God save our monarch – these are very often repeated themes.
  • Does the phrase “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto, In God we trust…Rockets red glare, bombs bursting in the air!” in the US national anthem reveal “manifest destiny” to conduct just wars and to conquer?
  • Do the words “Wide spaces for dreams and for living…” describe Russian character? 
  • Do the words “Scatter her enemies and make them fall; confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks…” in God Save the Queen of UK reveal a historical track record of being engaged in such activities?

Explicitly Ethnic or Religious Themes in National Anthems

Some national anthems are explicitly ethnic as “Hatikvah”, the Israeli one “As long as deep in the heart, the soul of a Jew yearns”. Mongolia is also proud to proclaim, “Our sacred revolutionary country is the ancestral hearth of all Mongols.” Mongolia adds a cautionary note though; “Our country will strengthen relations with all righteous countries of the world.” So representatives of “not righteous countries” (whatever than means!) should stay away from Mongolia.
  • North Korea – This Korea is THE Korea – “Let us devote our bodies and minds to supporting this Korea forever.”
  • South Korea – Surprise! This is THE Korea – “Our Korea hail!
  • Niger – “May the glorious voice of our race, free from tutelage, rise united surging as one man…”
  • Saudi Arabia – “My country may you always live, the glory of all Muslims!”
  • Vatican – “And peace to men who love Christ!”
  • Yemen – “An Arab I am in all my life!”

Threats and Violence in National Anthems

Some national anthems threaten enemies with all kinds of outcomes.
  • Afghanistan – Don’t mess with us! - “The land of peace, the land of the sword – Its sons are all brave”
  • Albania – God has special plans for Albania! - “For the Lord Himself has said that nations vanish from the earth, but Albania shall live on.”
  • Algeria – Our guns speak as no one listens otherwise!  - “When we spoke, nobody listened to us. So we have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm, and the sounds of machine guns as our melody!”
  • Mexico – Lots of blood around. “May your countryside be watered with blood! …The patriotic banners saturated in waves of blood!”
  • Palestine – A very Guerrilla camp vision! “Palestine is my revenge….I will live as a guerrilla, I will go on as a guerrilla, I will expire as guerrilla until I return…”
  • Vatican – “Force and terror will not prevail, but truth and love will reign!”
  • Yemen – “No foreigner shall dominate over Yemen!”

In spite of all propaganda to the contrary, the German national anthem, does not contain violent threats. The first stanza “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles!” however is strictly “verboten” nowadays as only that stanza was used during the Nazi regime. In fact, it is rather peaceful, talking of brotherly stand, German women, loyalty, wine and song inspiring us to noble deeds.

Enemies Mentioned in National Anthems

Some national anthems specifically mention categories of enemies though not often other states.

  • Italy – “Mercenary sword are feeble reeds…the Austrian eagle has lost his plumes. This eagle that drank the blood of Italy and Poland, together with the Cossack…”
  • Bolivia – “If someday, any foreign power should try to subdue Bolivia…that pretentious aggressor”
  • France – Suggestion of foreign enemies with “impure” blood. “ our fields the roar of these ferocious soldiers who came right here in our midst to slaughter our sons and wives …may their impure blood flow in our fields..”
  • Laos – “The Lao people of all origins are equal and will not allow imperialists and traitors to harm them!”
  • Libya – “Woe to the imperialists! And God is above the treacherous tyrant!”
  • Luxembourg – “Protect this Luxembourger land from foreign yoke and woe!”

Non-human Enemies in National Anthems

In some anthems, the enemies are not people but other tribulations.
  • Malawi – “Put down each and every enemy, hunger disease and envy!”
  • Lesotho – “Keep us free from conflict and tribulation!”
  • New Zealand – “From dissension, envy, hate and corruption guard our state.”
  • Nigeria – God save us from our leaders! - “O God of creation, direct our noble cause, guide thou our leaders right…”

National Anthems Mention Rulers

Some anthems mention the ruler of the land (always male).
  • Bahrain – “Protected by our courageous Amir.”
  • Bhutan – “The protector who guards the teachings of the dual system. He, the precious and glorious ruler..”
  • Brunei – “God bless his majesty with a long life…Lord save Brunei Darussalam!”
  • Japan – “May your reign continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations…”
  • Jordan – “Long live the King! His position is sublime.”

Women Mentioned in National Anthems

  • Botswana – “O men awake and women close behind them stand.”
  • Denmark ­ “Strong men and noble women still uphold their country’s honour!”
  • Latvia – “Our lovely daughters near our singing sons appear!”

Peace and Goodwill in National Anthems

  • Belarus – Peaceful to begin with! – “We the Belarusians are peaceful people…living in a hardworking and independent family!”
  • India – “The saving of all people waits in thy hands!”
  • Liechtenstein – “Long live our fatherland, Through the bond of brotherly love, united and free.”
  • Lithuania – “May the Lithuanian sun take away the darkness!”
  • Nepal – Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka or “Made of Hundreds of Flowers” – “Land of knowledge, land of peace!”
  • New Zealand – “Peace, not war shall be our boast.”

Multiracial Theme in National Anthems

  • Nepal – Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka or “Made of Hundreds of Flowers proudly proclaims ”Multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and with a large culture progressive nation ours…”
  • New Zealand – The Aotearoa or God Defend New Zealand mentions “Men of ev’ry creed and race gather..”
  • Russia – “Eternal union of fraternal peoples!”

Directions to Go in National Anthems

  • China – “Let us build our new Great Wall! …Brave the enemy’s gunfire, march on!”
  • Vietnam – Battlefield! “Let us hasten to the battlefield! Forward! All together marching!”

National Anthem Trivia
  • National Anthems Without Words - Bosnia, San Marino and Spain have national anthems without official words.
  • National Anthem With Stanzas in Different languages – The South African national anthem is sung in Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English all five national languages of the country.
  • The national anthem of Vatican City, 'Inno e Marcia Pontificale', may only be performed in the presence of the pope or one of his representatives.
  • The shortest national anthem is the Kimigayo of Japan with only five lines.
  • The longest national anthem is the Greek one with 158 verses.
  • A foreigner created the same melody for the national anthem of two countries, Finland and Estonia. Frederick Pacius was German and not Estonian or Finnish.
  • Enoch Mankayi Sontonga gave the tune for the national anthems of three countries, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
  • A drinking song became a national anthem – The Star Spangled Banner of USA. In 1814 Francis Scott Key witnessed the British attack on Fort McHenry. This inspired him to write the poem, 'The Defense of Fort McHenry'. This poem was set to the meter of 'To Anacreon in Heaven' - a contemporary popular drinking song

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Where in the World is Smoking Marijuana Legal?

Aunt Mary, Boom, Dope, Gangster, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Herb, Kif, Mary Jane, Pot, Reefer, Sinsemilla, Skunk, Weed. President Bill Clinton smoked it but didn’t inhale it in his youth. 4% of the Earth’s population (165 million adults) use it annually and 0.6% (25 million) smoke and inhale it daily. 

The United Nation calls it the most widely used illicit substance in the world. It is marijuana, marihuana or Cannabis. Yet "Which countries allow marijuana?" is at the top of queries on Google.

What Exactly is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). 

Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.

Marijuana Use in The Ancient World

  • As a fibre, Cannabis has been discovered in archaeological ruins dating back to 10 000 B.C in Taiwan. 
  • As a ritual and psychotropic agent, Marijuana has been known for millennia. Richard Rudgley, in his book The Alchemy of Culture: Intoxicants in Society argues that Marijuana was not that rare in the third millennium B.C. and there is archaeological evidence found at ancient burial sites from Romania to China. 

Photo source:

  • The ancient Hindus used it, calling it ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in Hindi nowadays). 
  • The Assyrians in the second millennium B.C. called it qunubu (“way to make smoke”). Did the word cannabis originate from this? 
  • Practitioners of the Dionysus cult as well as shamans used it to produce altered states of consciousness. 
  • The Greek historian, Herodotus in 5th century B.C Greece mentions Cannabis. 
  • Some writers even claim that Jesus Christ himself used cannabis-based oil to help cure people with crippling diseases as was common among the Jews in those times. 
Did the ancient Hebrew word for cannabis, which is qannabbos have a root in the Assyrian?
Photo source:

The Muslims, especially the Sufis puffed away to ecstasy already in the Mameluk times, not to mention the delightful customs of the highly spiritual Sufi saints.

Traces of cannabis found in pipes dug up in his garden show that William Shakespeare used the “noted weed” and had trips. He wrote in sonnet 27,
But then begins a journey in my head

To work my mind, when body's work's expired” 

Marijuana Laws in Different Countries

In 1619, Jamestown Colony, Virginia, USA passes a law requiring all farmers to grow hemp. George Washington grew it and so did Thomas Jefferson. A farmer could be jailed for not growing hemp from 1763 to 1767.
Cannabis gets first criminalized in: 
  • South Africa in 1911
  • Jamaica (British Colony then) in 1913
  • UK and New Zealand in 1920
  • Canada in 1923 and in 1937 in the United States. California and Utah were the first US states to outlaw “preparation of hemp seed or loco weed” in 1913 and 1915.

Reasons for Outlawing (Criminalizing) Marijuana in USA

  • Blame it on the Mexicans - The reasons for outlawing marijuana in USA vary, according to the writer. Some claim that cheap Mexican labourers, after the Mexican revolution in 1910 brought the habit to USA. Some writers claim that Mormons travelling to Mexico brought the bad habit back.
  • Racism – A newspaper editorial in 1934 declared “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.” 
The grand old man of the US Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger used racism very skillfully and shamelessly. 
  • “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
  • “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
  • “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
Money, of course, is a big player.

  • Corporate profits – William Randolph Hearst, the owner of a chain of newspapers, which paired cannabis and Mexicans together and lurid stories, sold more newspapers. It has also been suggested that DuPont chemicals, who patented Nylon wanted hemp removed as a competition. Pharmaceutical companies hated cannabis as people grew it themselves and no money came to the large companies.

Executions For Marijuana

Currently 10 countries have used capital punishment against the cannabis trade (but never for personal use alone). These countries are: 

  • Brunei
  • China 
  • Indonesia 
  • Malaysia 
  • Philippines (not after 2006) 
  • Singapore 
  • Saudi Arabia 
  • Thailand 
  • United Arab Emirates 
  • Vietnam. 

The amounts of marijuana in question vary from 149 grams in Lisa Tray case in UAE, 922 grams in Lam Ming Hwa case Brunei.

  • Pakistani law prescribes the death penalty for possession of over 200g
  • Sri Lanka 500 g 
  • Bangladesh 2 kg 
  • India is the most liberal in the region with 10 kg in the case of opium. 
  • Sri Lanka prescribes the death penalty for possession of 2 g of heroin in contrast to 50 g in China and 500 g in Laos. 
Amnesty International estimates that over 500 people are executed in China for drug offences. 
Photo source:
The punishment climate is getting tougher globally, while more and more countries are decriminalizing or even legalizing marijuana. 

  • In 1985, only 22 countries had legal death penalty for drug offences. In 1995, this number grew to 26 countries. 
  • By the end of the 2000, it stood around 34. 

This is about half of the 64 countries in the world, which retain the death penalty

Arguments For Decriminalizing and Legalizing Marijuana in USA

Photo source: 
The main arguments for decriminalizing marijuana are:
  • Lower costs of law enforcement and criminal justice system
  • Reduction of income earned by organized crime
  • Reduction in prison overcrowding
  • Reduction of subsequent use of hard illicit drugs e.g., heroin and cocaine
  • Moderate lifetime use may decrease certain types of cancer 

Arguments Opposing Decriminalizing Marijuana in USA
  • Marijuana use produces biochemical changes in the brain, which leads to heavier illicit drugs and addiction
  • Increased crime
In October 2009, Gallup found 44 percent of Americans favored legalization and 54% opposed it.

Photo source:

The state of California will vote in November 2010 on decriminalizing marijuana. 

Countries Where Cannabis is Legal

There are some countries where possessing or smoking cannabis or marijuana is legal in small amounts e.g. 1 gram. 

  • Argentina
  • Australia (Decriminalized in Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory)
  • Belgium
  • Brazil (one gets only warning for smoking)
  • Canada (legal for medical and industrial use)
  • Chile, Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Germany
  • India (government shops sell cannabis as bhang)
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Pakistan (laws are never enforced)
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela.
Though it is legal, it does not mean that you might not get in trouble with law enforcement.

Photo source

Famous Users of Marijuana
  • Friedrich Nietzsche - "If one seeks relief from unbearable pressure one is to eat hashish"
  • Abraham Lincoln - "Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica."
  • George Washington raised hemp and most likely smoked it
  • Pamela Anderson - wrote an open letter to president elect Obama urging him to legalize marijuana, promote vegetarianism and end the War in Iraq
  • Thomas Jefferson - "Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country."

Marijuana Research:

There is a lot of research on marijuana. Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa once tracked 70 people and compared their IQ scores at two stages: when they were aged nine to 12, before they started using marijuana, and again at ages 17 to 20. They found the IQ scores of heavy users dropped by about four points on average.
However, the effects on the brain of long-term, recreational use (fewer than five joints a week) appear to be minimal. The Carleton intelligence study, in fact, found IQ scores increased in light users by a mean score of nearly six points. A synthetic form of marijuana also has been shown to reduce agitation in Alzheimer's patients. Marijuana also has been found to be a potent trigger for heart attacks.
THC causes blood vessels to relax, which in turn can lower blood pressure, decreasing blood flow to the heart and causing the heart rate to go up by about 10 to 20 beats per minute. It's not enough to cause trouble for most people, but could harm those who already suffer from restricted blood flow to the heart.

Other studies e.g. University of Buffalo School of Medicine have found regular pot use can lead to male infertility by causing sperm to swim abnormally fast; that it may fuel the growth of cancerous tumors; and that it may be linked to an increased risk of depression. Source: Edmonton Journal (Alberta) March 6, 2004 Saturday Final Edition.

Marijuana Abuse: 

Use and abuse are entirely different things. Before you get too excited about marijuana,  Read here real life information about marijuana abuse and addiction from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Forgiving is Vital For Our Own Happiness

Have you ever thought if it is difficult to forgive?
  • What is the real nature of forgiveness? 
  • Can animals forgive? 
  • Is forgiveness difficult because people think it is weakness to forgive? 
  • Is forgiveness only good for society or does it bring healing and mental wellbeing to us when we forgive? 
  • Does behavioural science research support this?

We cannot live without making mistakes. Some would like to believe that they are infallible like his Holiness the Pope speaking ex cathedra

Neither can we go through life without ever having done harm to others, intentionally or unintentionally. This would mean that every one of us has at some point in life been in the receiving end of other people’s mistakes, selfish actions, misguided motives, carelessness or cruelty.

Yet, some of us seem happy in spite of having gone through horrendous suffering, deprivation and torture, while others drown in their sorrow, resentment, indignation, guilt, hurt, anger or bitterness. It follows that people, who cannot let go and forgive, suffer the most.

Health Benefits of Forgiveness

Photo source:

There are clearly visible health benefits of forgiveness. Mayo Clinic lists some easily measurable health benefits
  • Less stress and hostility 
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Substantial research by Dr. Frederick Luskin of Stanford University and many others has measurable evidence of such benefits.

The Meaning of Forgiveness

What does forgiveness mean? Typically it means ceasing to demand restorative justice. If I forgive, I stop demanding a tit for tat punishment for the person, who has “wronged” me (as I perceive it). If I get an apology and witness visible signs of repentance, the task of forgiveness becomes easier. In fact, then I am socially and morally obligated to forgive the other person.

Forgiveness is different from pardoning, which is a legal and social act. In condoning we justify the “offence”. Excusing brings understanding why the “offence” occurred due to extenuating circumstances. Forgetting implies that the memory of the “injury” has slipped out of awareness and has ceased to bother actively. Denial on the other hand, reveals an inability or reluctance to confront the “injuries”.

Forgiveness in Nature

Is forgiveness a part of the order of nature? 

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the copyright of humans. 

They are very common among animals, especially dogs, birds, monkeys, chimpanzees and other primates. It is common to see animals forgiving humans after being treated badly. The human track record against animals is not so lofty overall. Many religions have the concept of animal sacrifice, where humans take animals, slaughter them ritually and sacrifice them to their deity to atone for sins, hoping for boons or protection etc. (for the humans).

Forgiveness in Religions

Forgiveness is an often-repeated theme in most religions. The Romans even had a goddess for mercy, clemency and compassion, Clementia.

In Christianity, Jesus sets a personal example of forgiving by praying for his crucifiers "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'" Luke 23: 34.

In Islam, the Holy Quran defines true believers or Muslims as persons who avoid gross sins and vice, and when angered they forgive (Qur’an 42:37). 

Judaism is more precise in the matter of forgiveness. Not God but humans forgive us our transgressions against them. In the Tefila Zaka prayer just before Yom Kippur, humans pray for God to influence others to forgive us and not directly wipe the slate clean “…so may You grant me grace in the eyes of others, that they too forgive me absolutely."

Photo source:

In Buddhism, Avalokiteshwara is the embodiment of compassion. Buddhism goes directly to the mechanism of how forgiveness is a release of negative thoughts, seen as impediments to spiritual growth, harmony, peace and our own wellbeing.

He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me”—in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease. "

-- Dhammapada 1.3–4

Why Forgiveness is Difficult

Many people see forgiveness as a sign of weakness. The philosopher Nietzsche calls it “sublimated resentment” and warns us about those who forgive too easily.

The ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata echoes this sentiment. 
"There is one only defect in forgiving persons; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong… What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities.(From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII). 
Some people see forgiveness as having a moral component, which allows the forgiver to elevate himself above the “deficient” other by the act of forgiving. They claim that in forgiveness a real letting-go does not happen but the moral superiority is the reward of the forgiver.

Some faith-based religious communities exhort people to forgive everything unconditionally. In these settings, the act of forgiveness is a scripted event, which leaves no alternative than to publicly forgive. This is very trying for people who are abused by religious leaders, who ask for unconditional forgiveness and then continue with the same behaviour, while having moral authority over the “injured”.

How Can We Learn to Forgive

Modern behavioural sciences have brought us lots of research and helpful tips to learn to forgive. The links of health and wellbeing to forgiveness has been proved by research.

Robert Enright and Gayle Reed of the 
Department of Educational Psychology
, University of Wisconsin –Madison have developed a 20-step four-phase model of forgiveness

The four phases of forgiveness are
  1. Uncovering – Awareness of the pain resulting from deep and unjust injury.
  2. Decision – Realization that focussing on the injury and injurer prolongs misery. A change of heart happens and giving up intention of revenge is vital here.
  3. Work – New way of seeing how things transpired. Though not thinking as deserving the “injury” but understanding how the “injurer’s” actions are human failings. Can maintain goodwill to the “injurer” without reconciliation.
  4. Outcome/Deepening phase – Finding meaning in own suffering and seeing how forgiveness has brought emotional relief and healing.
Photo source

Is this the same mechanism of forgiveness that Jesus addresses in Mathew 18:21 and 18:22
“Then Peter came up and asked him, "Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I have to forgive him? Seven times?"Jesus said to him, "I tell you, not just seven times, but 77 times!
Is Jesus talking about 77 separate sins of the brother or allegorically referring to how sticky and persistent the memory of the “injury” is in our minds and how the process of working with forgiveness requires much and prolonged internal work?

If 20 steps are too daunting for you, here is a 9-step forgiveness programme

The Lighter Side of Forgiveness - Quotes
  • “It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Grace Hopper, in "Only the Limits of Our Imagination", interview by Diane Hamblen in U.S. Navy's Chips Ahoy magazine (July 1986)
  • “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much” Oscar Wilde
Why don't you choose someone in your life, let the hurt, anger and disappointment go. Then you forgive that person today. Can you?