Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The essence of forgiveness

Author: Paulo Coelho

By Paulo Coelho

One of Napoleon’s soldiers committed a crime – the story does not explain what exactly – and he was condemned to death.

On the evening before he was due to be shot, the soldier’s mother came to plead for her son’s life to be spared.

‘Madam, your son’s action does not deserve clemency.’

‘I know,’ said the mother. ‘If it did, that would not be true forgiveness. To forgive is the ability to go beyond vengeance or justice.’

When he heard those words, Napoleon commuted the death sentence to exile.

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