We think of forgiveness as an act of external absolution, rather than the internal engine for self-awareness, growth and intimacy that it truly is. On Yom Kippur, some thoughts on “atonement”.

Anthony Fieldman
4 min readSep 25, 2023
Hopes and dreams cast in Jerusalem © Anthony Fieldman 2019

Forgiveness is generally thought of as a request made by a “transgressor” to an “aggrieved party”, in which we hope to box up an uncomfortable past interaction and put it on a shelf to gather dust, in the attic of yesterday.

Please forgive me.

If we thought of it differently, our desire for absolution could lead us instead to acts of self-reflection, through which we might seize the opportunity to earn our place in their hearts again, not through penance but by learning from the experience.

Asking for forgiveness (rather than understanding) from someone we have wronged cheats everyone, in a number of ways.

It cheats the person asking for it out of the potential for growth through increased self-awareness and the sense of accomplishment it engenders.

It equally hurts the one who feels wronged out of the potential for increased trust: that the person who hurt them won’t do so again because they understand the impact of their actions, and that they care deeply enough about the…



Anthony Fieldman

Architect | Photographer | Writer | Philosopher | Polyglot | Windmill Jouster | Nomade Civilisée