An ugly spat in Casco came to a surprisingly satisfying end Wednesday, when one of the town’s residents dusted off his bruised feelings and gave everyone involved a lesson in the power of forgiveness.

Antonio Jackson, who is African-American, could have rejected Selectwoman Barbara York’s apology for passing along a racial joke she received by e-mail.

Jackson could have avoided York or sought revenge by continuing to demand that she be removed from office.

Then York and her supporters — and judging from the public dialog on this issue, she has many — would walk away feeling as though they had been wronged.

Instead, Jackson accepted her apology as sincere.

Jackson did not excuse or condone what York had done. Sharing a racial joke is no way for anyone to act, especially not a public official. But he did acknowledge that people should not be defined by one bad decision and almost anyone can grow if given a chance.

As the German-Jewish writer Hannah Arendt said, “Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would … be confined to a single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever.”

By accepting York’s apology, Jackson took a way out of a conflict that had been damaging the whole community.

As a result, he can walk away feeling that he has been heard in a way he might not have been had he continued to call for York’s removal.

And York may come out of this recognizing that her thoughtless action hurt someone, and maybe it was someone she wished she hadn’t hurt.

If there is a lesson for the rest of us, it’s that there is power in forgiveness.

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