Some years ago, New York's then-governor Mario Cuomo was engaged in a debate about capital punishment. He was asked if he — an opponent of the death penalty — would nonetheless wish the death sentence imposed in a hypothetical case in which his own wife was the victim of a brutal murder. "Of course, I would!" Cuomo thundered, but then added, "And that is precisely why I am opposed to the death penalty. Because a just society must be built on a foundation stronger than one man's desire for revenge!" Cuomo's point was simple enough: even if the most impulsive thing to do is to float with the tide, there are times in our lives when the most noble thing to do is to strain against it. . . .

Forgiveness is fundamental to justice, but it requires the unlearning of deeply ingrained, culturally supported behaviors. It is like trying to untie a tight old knot.

Erik Kolbell, Were You There?