When Joshua Prager was 19, he was in a horrible car accident that left him almost paralyzed. More painful than his broken bones were his shattered dreams, which suddenly seemed unattainable in his new body.

In his powerful TED Talk, Joshua explains how he set out on a search for the driver who almost paralyzed him. What he finds changed his life. I hope it will change your perspective too.

What Can Joshua’s Story Teach Us About Forgiveness?

I won’t describe the rest of Joshua’s story here. Joshua’s emotional narrative does a much better job of providing the details than I ever could. Instead, I want to focus on the meaning behind Joshua’s search for the man who broke his neck and what it means for all of us. Please watch the video. Then, let’s return to the discussion.

On one level, Joshua’s story is about the search for closure and redemption. As he mentioned in the video, all he wanted was to hear the other man say, “I’m sorry.” How many of us hold grudges and bitterness because we have been wronged? How many of us say that we could move on if the person that wronged us would just apologize? On some level, we all do.

Joshua discovered that genuine self-criticism is a rare trait. We all see the world from our own perspective and, even when we are objectively wrong, we cannot help but rationalize, justify and defend our actions. Importantly, Joshua didn’t need to forgive the other driver to move on. Neither do we.

Joshua’s story also reminds us that living well takes courage. Most of us will not be unfortunate enough to suffer from the kind of physical injuries that Joshua endured. But, as he said, sometimes emotional injuries cut just as deep. By the time we reach our 60s, we all have our fair share of emotional bruises and psychological cuts.

Like Joshua, we have a choice to make. Will we let our injuries destroy our search for truth and self-actualization? Or, will we respond to our injuries with courage, determination and a healthy vision for the future? Either way, the choice is ours to make. The other driver has nothing to do with it.

What did you think of Joshua’s story? Did his words change the way that you look at forgiveness and the search for meaning? Why do you think it is so difficult to forgive others, especially when they refuse to take responsibility for their actions? Please join the conversation.

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