A couple of passages from a great and horrifying book I just finished, Patrick McGuinness's The Last Hundred Days, a novel set in Romania at the end of the Ceaușescu regime.
... I grew to hate, and it energised me. But I couldn’t make a life out of it, or not a life that was my own. So I discovered forgiveness, and the secret malice of it: people forgive not out of grandeur of spirit but as a way of freeing themselves. The forgiver always floats free, the forgiven slides a little further down the soft shute to hell. Maybe that’s why so many religions use forgiveness as a secret weapon.
‘Ah, Monsieur Midwinter? Gilbert, isn’t it?’ Ozeray loomed up between us and closed his fingers around Wintersmith’s hand.
‘Er… Wintersmith, Giles.’ The Belgian had him in a diplomatic half-nelson.
‘Ah yes, quite so. I could not help overhearing your wise analysis. I remember when I was just beginning my diplomatic career.’ Ozeray paused and closed his eyes, inviting us to join him in a prehistory where diplomats and dinosaurs roamed the same mirrored banqueting halls, ‘my mentor, Baron Henri Nivarlais, – a great diplomat – oversaw fifty years of the most radical change the world has known without batting an eyelid – the Baron, he said to me: “Young man, in diplomacy there are two kinds of problem: small ones and large ones. The small ones will go away by themselves, and the large ones you will not be able to do anything about. The biggest challenges in your career will come from the temptation to act. The test of your mettle will be how nobly you surmount it.” Very fine advice, Mr Midwinter, do you agree?’