Be yourself the change you wish for this world. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), the great leader of the Indian people, tells in his biography how he committed a theft at the age of fifteen. The matter came up. The suspicion fell on him. He had the feeling that everyone was looking at him questioningly. No one spoke about it, however, but the excitement in the family was unmistakable, especially with the father. Young Gandhi struggled with himself. Should he confess? Should he pretend that none of this was his business? He decided never to steal again, to admit his guilt and to tell his father everything: "But I did not dare to speak. Not that I feared my father would beat me. I don't remember him ever hitting any of us. What I feared was to cause him grief.
But I felt it had to be risked, there could be no clearing without a clear confession. Finally I decided to write down the confession, give it to my father and ask him for forgiveness. I wrote it on a sheet of paper and handed it to him myself. In this writing I not only confessed my guilt, but also asked for an appropriate punishment ... I also vowed never to steal again. I trembled when I handed this confession to my father. He was suffering from a fistula at the time and was tied to the bed... I handed him the transcript and sat down opposite the bed. He read it through. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and wetting the paper. He closed his eyes for a moment while thinking, then he tore up the note. He had sat up so he could read it. Now he lay down again. I was crying, too. If I were a painter, I could still paint the whole scene today. I remember it so vividly. These tears of love cleaned my heart and erased my sin. Only someone who has experienced such love knows what it is ... I had thought he would get angry, scold and beat his forehead. But he was wonderfully calm, and I think that was the result of my open confession. An open confession, combined with the promise not to repeat the sin, is the purest form of repentance when it is made before the one who has the right to receive it. I know that my confession gave my father a feeling of complete security over me and increased his affection for me beyond all measure.
Source: M. K. Gandhi: An Autobiography. Gladenbach