I have noticed in some of the more recent posts here, you have been discussing the theme of taking a cognitive perspective on the person who has hurt me.  How do I gain this cognitive perspective on myself if I want to forgive myself?

A key here is to apply these new thinking perspectives, which you have offered to others as you forgive them, now to yourself.  For example, try to see that you have inherent (built-in) worth, not because of what you did that was offensive, but in spite of this.  Try to see that you share a common humanity with others.  While not excusing behavior in need of change, try to see that you are much more than those behaviors.  As you engage in this kind of thinking, this may help you to forgive yourself.

For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.

I don’t get it.  You say it is important to “give the other a gift” when we forgive.  Why the emphasis on gift-giving?

I emphasize gift-giving because that is part of the definition of what forgiveness is.  As we forgive, we give to the other, particularly the one who has hurt us.  Thus, to give a gift of some kind (perhaps a smile or a returned phone call) is to exercise the virtuous nature of forgiveness.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

Forgiveness, I have concluded, is ultimately a selfish act.  We do it for ourselves.  Comments on this?

There is a large difference between what forgiveness is and some of the consequences realized when we forgive.  One of the consequences of forgiving others is that we, ourselves, begin to feel better.  Yet, these more positive feelings toward the self are not what forgiveness actually is.  Forgiveness is a deliberate, self-chosen virtue of being good to those who are not good to us.  This, as you can see by the definition, is focused, not on the self, but instead on the other, on the one who hurt us.  Thus, forgiving is not a selfish act or even a self-interested act, but one of the consequences is that forgiving helps the self.  This is not selfish to want to feel better and at the same time we should not confuse what forgiveness is and one of its consequences.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

South Korean Leader Begs Forgiveness for his Role in Spreading Coronavirus Disease

BBC News, South Korea – The leader of a religious sect in South Korea has publicly apologized and begged forgiveness for the role he and his followers played in spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19) to thousands of others there. 

“I would like to offer my sincere apology to the people on behalf of the members,” said Lee Man-hee, head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a new religious movement (NRM) group. “We did our best but weren’t able to contain it fully.”

Lee Man-hee, head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in South Korea, bows down in apology following accusations by South Korean officials of spreading the coronavirus epidemic.

Wearing a white mask and fogged glasses, the 88-year-old Lee suddenly stood up in the middle of reading his remarks at a hastily-arranged news conference outside the Shincheonji Church in  Gapyeong on March 3rd. He twice silently knelt beside the desk he was seated at and bowed his head to the ground over clasped hands, a significant gesture of contrition in Korean custom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Seoul, 57% of all patients infected with the coronavirus in South Korea were affiliated with the religion that Lee founded in 1984.

Lee is the charismatic, self-proclaimed messiah (“the second coming of Jesus”) of the church he founded in 1984. He has been widely criticized for failing to do enough to stop the virus after one of its members tested positive and infected many others.

A 61-year-old female church member developed a fever on February 10 but refused to be tested until a week later. By that time, she had participated in at least two services (along with more than 1,000 other followers) at a Shincheonji Church in the city of Daegu. She also traveled to crowded spots in the capital of Seoul (metro population of 25.6 million) before she contacted a hospital to get tested.

The next day, Feb. 18, health authorities announced she was the country’s 31st confirmed coronavirus case. After that, the number of confirmed cases in South Korea skyrocketed with the majority in the region of Daegu. As of March 22, the country had recorded 8,961 confirmed coronavirus cases (75% of them in Daegu) and 111 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Seoul.

“I don’t know how this happened, but we will make utmost of efforts, and we are aware that we were wrong,” Lee said at the news conference. “We thank the government for making efforts when what we had tried to stop the coronavirus spread wasn’t enough.”

South Korean soldiers spray disinfectant in front of a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu last week. Some government officials are calling for the sect to be dissolved and its founder to be charged with “murder through willful negligence.”

Lee’s news conference came after Seoul’s mayor filed a criminal complaint asking for an investigation into Lee and other church leaders on charges including murder for their failure to cooperate with health officials. Lee had previously called coronavirus the “devil’s deed” designed to stop his church’s growth (he claims about 200,000 followers in South Korea) but, following government orders, he has closed all of the church’s 74 sanctuaries around the country.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has declared the city of Daegu and parts of the surrounding province as “special disaster zones” because of the unusually high number of confirmed cases in that area. Growing anger over the sect’s handling of the outbreak has sparked a petition calling for the church to be disbanded. Nearly 1.2 million people have already signed it.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Washington, DC) recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea. For an update on the worldwide pandemic, please scroll down to see the article Tracking the Global Coronavirus Outbreak.

Learn More:

Tracking the Global Coronavirus Outbreak

The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 577,400 people, according to official counts. As of Friday evening, at least 26,678 people have died, and the virus has been detected in at least 171 countries, as graphically illustrated on these maps by The New York Times.

There is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus. The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against all non-essential travel throughout most of Europe, and to South KoreaChina and Iran. The agency has also warned that older and at-risk Americans should avoid travel to any country.

The outbreak is believed to have begun in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China. The virus seems to spread very easily, especially in confined spaces, making containment efforts difficult. It is difficult to know how many people who contract the virus die, but some early estimates put the fatality rate at roughly 1 percent.

The number of known coronavirus cases in the United States continues to grow quickly and has now surpassed that of any other country in the world including mainland China where the virus supposedly originated. As of Thursday morning, there have been at least 100,973 cases of coronavirus confirmed by lab tests and 1,572 deaths in the U.S., according to a New York Times database. That same database details confirmed cases and deaths for all 171 countries.

While the outbreak is a serious public health concern, most people who contract the coronavirus do not become seriously ill, and only a small percentage require intensive care. Older people and those with existing health conditions, like heart or lung disease, are at higher risk.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, and has since spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.

Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Muscle pain, sputum production, diarrhea, and sore throat are less common. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure. As of 20 March 2020, the rate of deaths per number of diagnosed cases is 4.1 percent; however, it ranges from 0.2 percent to 15 percent, according to age group and other health problems.

The virus is typically spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing. It may also be spread from touching  contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s face. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between two and fourteen days, with an average of five days.


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I tried to expand my perspective of the one who hurt me. When I did this, I truly saw all sorts of hurts in this person.  Do you know what effect this had on me?  It made me not like myself because I now ask this: “How could I not have seen all of this before?” I think I am stupid and so now I am not liking myself very much. Help!

Let us take comfort from Aristotle here.  This ancient Greek philosopher instructed us that it takes much time and effort to grow in each of the moral virtues such as justice, patience,  kindness, and forgiveness.  None of us is perfect as we try to exercise any of these virtues.  As part of the process of growing in the moral virtue of forgiveness, we are challenged to take this wider perspective on those who have been unjust to us.

I have found that it is quite rare for people to take this wider perspective without some instruction.  So, please be gentle with yourself.  You still are growing in this moral virtue.  You cannot be expected to be perfect in this process. So, as you take this longer perspective on the one who hurt you, please try to be encouraged that you, like most of the rest of us, do not automatically generate such thinking.

Therefore, you definitely are not, in your word, “stupid.” We are all on this journey of discovery and it is all right that we are not perfect at this point.  In fact, Aristotle counsels us that we never reach full perfection in any of the moral virtues.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

I have tried to take the perspective of my former partner, but I am finding this very difficult. Every time I step inside of his world, I see that he has lost great opportunities and has done this deliberately.  Can you help me?  Am I missing something when it comes to what you call “taking the other’s perspective”?

I would like to suggest an important addition to your exercises of taking your partner’s perspective.  You seem to consider him primarily at the time of your conflict and his leaving.  Yet, is there more to him than this?  For example, was he abandoned as a child?  Did someone emotionally wound him as a child or adolescent so that he now is so wounded that he cannot endure a healthy relationship?  My point is this: I think there is more to him than his apparent insensitivity to you in the recent past.  Is it possible that he has brought a certain brokenness into your relationship?  If so, how are you viewing him when you realize this, if it is true?

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness.