Between Hating and Forgiving


“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.” –Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

I just deleted four or five paragraphs of my own ruminations on this quote. After writing them, I went back and read the quote again, realizing that I’m ruining the beauty – like a curator overexplaining a painting, draining it of any personal meaning. So I hate to even try to expound on the beauty of this quote and will just let it stand on its own beautiful merit.

Matt Conner is a former pastor and church planter turned writer and editor. He’s the founder of Analogue Media and lives in Indianapolis.


  1. Curt McLey


    Thanks, Matt. This quote reminded me of a related quote by Victor Frankl, which came to him–ironically so–during the time he spent in a concentration camp.

    We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

    These quotes are humbling and inspirational. That Frankl and the character in Roberts book forgave–despite their unspeakable trials and pain inflicted by monsters–leaves me without excuse to be charitable and forgiving to someone that happens to rub me the “wrong” way.

  2. Chris R

    Wow, thanks so much for posting that. I hope I can somehow get my hands on that book (I am in Italy right now so things might be a little difficult with that).

  3. Micah Pick

    Great quote. I can’t help but think of 1984 though, and I wonder if Orwell was just pessemistic, or if Matt Conner is idealistic.

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