Power to forgive

by Stella Sabiti
As told to Activated East Africa correspondent Kathleen Murawka

I discovered the power of forgiveness on a July afternoon in 1976. It was during the Idi Amin regime, when Uganda had come to a standstil – careers, the economy, the infrastructure, education, everything. I was a student at Makerere University, and also newly married and expecting a baby.

Because the university didn’t have any supplies and the lecturers didn’t have any fuel to get them to and from the university, they didn’t come to teach us. So we students would go to the library every morning and either read there, or get books to study in our rooms. Idi Amin, not having gone to school himself, didn’t understand why we were doing that. He thought it was a demonstration against him, so he routinely sent soldiers to the campus to terrorize us students.

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Forgive your way to better health

Fred Luskin, PhD, Stanford University Forgiveness Project

We all know that hostility increases risk for heart disease. But new research shows that forgiveness can moderate these dangerous effects on the heart. People who blame others for their problems have a higher incidence of chronic pain, cardiovascular disease and other ailments.

Why is forgiveness good for you? There are two primary reasons… Forgiveness reduces chronic stress. Self-generated, chronic stress triggers negative physical changes, including increased blood pressure and heart rate and decreased immune function, all of which eventually lead to disease.

Forgiveness increases one’s sense of control. Feeling in control is crucial to health. It moderates the stress response because one is less likely to panic and overreact to situations. Feeling helpless can make you ill. When you learn how to forgive, you develop the emotional confidence to “get over” any difficulty.

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