Book Review: Why Forgive? By Johann Christoph Arnold


Where to begin…? This novel left me speechless, literally. The incredible story each person went through in their lives is unbelievable. Even after everything they’ve been through, they still agreed to forgive. These tremendous people have the freedom to talk about what it feels like to be hurt and truly down. I feel like these people are superheroes in disguise, and they deserve more notoriety for their validity and lessons behind every challenge they encountered. I understand the message behind this book is you cannot move forward without forgiving yourself in any situation you’ve gone through. You have to come to the understanding that the problem is over. It’s time to move on, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

This book illustrates the life of ordinary people who I believe came to be extraordinary people and outstanding leaders. These individuals go through sympathy and eventually conquer the darkness and hatred, which stands in new inception. When you read this and look deeply into the words and meaning, you can visualize the hatred and resentment of how the individuals were at the beginning of their stories. Slowly you discover that it isn’t making anyone’s life better by being pessimistic and acting without thinking, being bitter and full of hate makes your life ten times worse. It eradicates your life’s emphasis on destruction.

As I read this book, I learn the key to living a complete life is simply Forgiveness. For instance, Hashim Garret was shot at the age of fifteen, paralyzed from the waist down. While he was in the hospital, he spent his time thinking of getting exact revenge on his assailants. He battled a colossal battle, but in the end, he decided to forgive. If Garret hadn’t come to his senses and forgiven his so-called friends who left him shot on the ground to die, he would still be on the streets to this day with a different lifestyle trying to get justice. The much better lifestyle that Hashim is living now is traveling around cities in other schools, talking about gang violence, and opening up minds too young audiences—warning us, providing us with the best lessons, which not only benefits him but us as well. “It was important to forgive oneself;” this could have destroyed Hashim’s life. Many obstacles had to be passed before the path to a new beginning could start.

I met Hashim Garret in seventh grade, and he came to my school with all these other beautiful leaders who share the same message. His story inspired me the most, and it brought me to tears. I remember not wanting to leave the auditorium without having my book signed and at least a picture. About three and half years later, he is at PCTI sharing his story in front of a crowd double the group’s size from the last time I heard his story, and this time his wife (Mia Garret) was with him sharing her incredible, inspiring story. When I listened to his story again this year as a sophomore now, I didn’t recognize It was Hashim Garret, maybe because it was early in the morning whatever the reason was, I left that auditorium with a smile, and my mind yet again was “developed.” Still, I knew that I had heard this incredible story before. I was determined to find out who he was and where I heard this story before.

I figured out who he was until a few days later, and I bragged to everyone that I, Iyana Baker, met the one and only Hashim Garret, the co-founder of Wisdom & Understanding, the best public speaker that when he spoke the ENTIRE audience was silent, you could hear a pin drop. Yes, I met him. I had a conversation with him and a picture. I can say this without a doubt, I will never forget that story and the message. I will carry the message with me every day. This book has a valuable meaning, and it makes me feel thankful for everything. This book needs attention, especially in the society we live in today. Our immediate reaction after being hurt in any way is to seek revenge when we just need time to understand the situation. Overall, the message I want to proclaim is forgiveness empowers us to move on without anger or contempt or seeking revenge. Forgiveness does not eradicate our history but looks upon it with compassion.

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