Independence Day for Those Who Bully

Independence Day-2Do you know the film, Independence Day, from 1996? One of the characters, an alcoholic crop-duster, Russell Casse, played by Randy Quaid, kept insisting that he was abducted by aliens. No one was buying it. Once the aliens landed, he had his day by saying, “What did I tell you?” (Quoted from memory).

It is now our turn. No, we have not been abducted by aliens, but we have been speculating within our institute about Adam Lanza, the tragic figure who turned his own fury onto innocent children in a Connecticut school on December 14, 2012. We have been saying to each other that he himself in all likelihood was a victim of severe bullying.

A recent article in the New York Daily News Sandy Hook(April 13, 2013) by Matthew Lysiak and Larry McShane supports the view that Mr. Lanza was a victim of bullying. According to this article not only was Mr. Lanza taunted but also beaten by fellow students when he attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. A relative of Mr. Lanza, who wished for anonymity in that article, gave this evidence of bullying: “Adam would come home with bruises all over his body,” the relative said. “His mom would ask him what was wrong, and he wouldn’t say anything. He would just sit there.” The mother considered suing the school because of this abuse that she suspected.

The one bullied transformed into the one who bullies, and even worse, into the one who kills.

For a moment, let us presume even with this news story that the accusations of bullying toward Adam Lanza are incorrect. Even so, there are thousands of children as I write this being bullied and bullied very abusively in schools.

How many of them will transform into the one who bullies?

We have to do something to protect the victims, yes, but what is rarely emphasized is this: We must find a way to quell the fury within those who bully. Their fury is what is abusing and in some cases contributing to the death of other students.

BulliedWhat did I tell you? We are suggesting this to the world: We strongly urge all school districts in the United States and abroad to develop comprehensive psychological programs to reduce the rage in those who bully. One source for school psychologists, counselors, and social workers is the Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Education Program available in the store section of this website. This curriculum targets the anger within those who bully.

Our research on forgiveness therapy and our research on forgiveness education shows that those with deep anger can reduce that anger statistically significantly.

It is time to quell the fury within—-for the sake of the next victim and for the sake of those who harbor the fury. We have the resources. Now let us all pull together and do our part not to let anger have its insistent upper hand. Let us start today and achieve Independence Day for those who bully—-independence from the binding torture of their own anger.

Robert

On Mercy: The Case of Mid-West Family Broadcasting

Mid-West Family Broadcasting, headed by Thomas Walker, has quietly stayed in the shadows, supporting the International Forgiveness Institute since 1990–for a generation. Readers, please note well that many philanthropists have a pattern of funding non-profit organizations for a few years and then moving on. This did not happen between Mid-West Family Mid-West 2and IFI. In 1990, I received a letter (email was not “on a roll” then as it is now) from William Walker, Thomas’ father. He told me that years ago he received a doctoral degree from my own department at the university. He said he now would like to give back to the social sciences and that he had the resources to put the psychology of forgiveness on the map.

WilliamWalker
William Walker

Up to that point, the science of forgiveness was in its infancy. The very first scientific article on person-to-person forgiving was published by our group in 1989. (There had been a handful of studies on apology up to that point, but no science published on the issue of forgiving between and among people). William had a plan to advance the thinking in this area. With his help, we developed the first psychological instrument to measure person-to-person forgiveness ever published. We devised strategies to map out the process of forgiveness and tested these. One example of the fruit of William Walker’s philanthropy is a study of helping people in residential drug rehabilitation to forgive and thus to become emotionally healthier.

Tom Walker
Thomas Walker

Under the care of Thomas Walker, the IFI has quietly built the most comprehensive set of curricular materials for teaching forgiveness in the world. The forgiveness curriculum guides have made their way to schools on every continent now. We at the IFI are personally shepherding the growth of forgiveness education in Madison, Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s central-city, Belfast, Northern Ireland and Liberia, Africa. We are making inroads in other war-torn and contentious regions of the world. We are doing so because of Mid-West Family Broadcasting.

Mid-West Family Broadcasting runs the following stations in Madison, Wisconsin: WJJO | WMGN | WJQM | WWQM | WMLV | WHIT | WOZN. They are in four other midwest markets as well.

We take the time here to acknowledge the mercy of Mid-West Family Broadcasting and the Walker family. You are making the world a more merciful place, a more forgiving place, because of your mercy. Thank you.

Robert

Bully Blues Busters: Positive Ways to Promote Kindness

Types of Bullying 2
Click the chart for an expanded view.

Natural Awakenings, Naples, FL – Dr. Robert Enright’s Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program is one of two anti-bullying programs featured in the February issue of Natural Awakenings, a publication that has more than 3 million readers in 82 US markets. According to Sharon Bruckman, founder of the 20-year-old magazine, “Our job is to keep our finger on the pulse of advancing thought in order to keep everyone apprised of the best healthy-life choices available to them.”

According to the Natural Awakenings article, most school anti-bullying programs focus on the prevention of unwanted behaviors. But Dr. Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, has developed a uniquely different approach.

“Because those that engage in bullying are often filled with rage from having been bullied themselves, they get to a point that they don’t care about the consequences of their actions, including detention,” Dr. Enright says. “Our program is meant to take the anger out of the heart of those that bully, so they bully no more.”

The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fears of being attacked or intimidated by other students.

That Natural Awakenings article resulted in WZZM13 ABC TV in Grand Rapids, MI inviting Dr. Matthew Clark to be a guest on the 9 am talk show called Take Five & Company. Dr. Clark, Psy.D., runs The Clark Institute–Private Practice Psychotherapy for Children, Adolescents, and Adults in Grand Rapids. During that 4-minute TV segment, which you can watch at “Positive Ways to Promote Kindness in Children,” Dr. Clark mentions the IFI, suggests viewers go to the IFI website, and gives the IFI web address.

Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness

A movie review by Dr. Giles Fraser

The Guardian and The Church Times Review, London, England – Patrick Magee killed Jo Berry’s father on October 12, 1984. He was the notorious IRA Brighton bomber; she is the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, former Tory MP for Enfield, Southgate, England. They were an unlikely pair to be mingling over the canap√©s in an upscale London hotel.

The occasion was the first London screening of a new documentary film, Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness,which examines extraordinary stories of forgiveness in Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the Middle East.

Some of it was almost unbearable to watch: the Rwandan woman whose five children were massacred in church is approached by their killer, who asks for forgiveness; the now-grown-up Irish schoolboy who was blinded by a rubber bullet meets the British soldier who fired the round; the Israeli and Palestinian families who meet, despite having all lost children in the conflict.

One of the stories in Beyond Right and Wrong tells how Magee traveled across England in 1978, planting 16 bombs in various cities and, then again, in 1984, when he blew up Brighton’s Grand Hotel during the Conservative party conference, killing five people. Magee eventually served 14 years in prison, released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. Jo Berry’s forgiveness of Magee is quite extraordinary, taking huge courage and emotional poise. And she admitted to me that she sometimes goes for a walk on the beach in north Wales and smashes rocks against each other in frustration. This is a safe detonation of the anger she feels inside. She says that for all to move on and reclaim a more peaceful future, these feelings have to be left on the beach.

Too often, forgiveness is construed as miraculously having positive feelings towards the person who had harmed you. This understanding is, I suspect, an impossible fiction. But what is not impossible is the refusal of revenge, the refusal to answer back in kind. Beyond Right and Wrong examines powerful stories of ordinary people in Rwanda and Israel/Palestine who have let go of perfectly natural punitive instincts in the name of a brighter tomorrow, one not trapped by the hatreds of the past.

View the 2-minute movie trailer. Purchase the Beyond Right and Wrong DVD.

Spring Cleaning for Your Wounded Heart

…….if when you look inside, you are tired;Wounded Heart

…….if when you look inside you do not like yourself anymore;

…….if when you look inside you find rust where you used to see sparkle;

…….if when you look inside you no longer find hope…….

Please know this…….

Forgiveness is your energizer;

Forgiveness is your self-esteem bolster;

Forgiveness is your emotional rust-inhibitor;

Forgiveness gives you hope.

Come, together, let us do some spring cleaning of your heart.

The first step is this: Commit to forgiving, to reducing resentment and offering goodness toward those who have cluttered the rooms of your heart.

The second step is this: Commit to doing no harm to those who have soiled your inner world and did not stay around long enough to clean up after themselves.

Forgiveness will be your servant. Forgiveness will make tidy the rooms of your heart.

Robert

Suppose that there is ongoing abuse, should I forgive in this circumstance? It seems so difficult.

Suppose, instead, that you had an ongoing bacterial infection on your arm. ??Would it be a good idea to treat that? ??Why should emotional pains be any different? ??Yes, it probably is the case that it is more difficult to forgive in this context, but it may be all the more necessary….to prevent infection of the heart, in an emotional sense.

The Mathematics of Forgiveness

When we are treated deeply unjustly by others, we have a tendency to be wounded in at least eight ways. First is the injustice itself. Second is the emotional reaction, such as considerable anger or frustration or sadness. Third, we sometimes feel shame because others are looking and wondering. Fourth, all of the above can make us tired. Fifth, we sometimes can’t stop thinking about what happened. Sixth, as we compare ourselves to the one who hurt us, we see ourselves as coming up short. Seventh, we sometimes have to make unwanted changes in our lives. And eighth, we drift into pessimism.

forgiveness mathematicsOne injustice, eight wounds. Now, suppose one person hurt you deeply 20 times. That is 20 X 8 = 160 wounds you are carrying around inside of you.

Suppose further that 5 other people have hurt you 10 times each……just wait a minute., please….doing the math here……That is 400 more wounds. Adding the first person who hurt you to the other five who hurt you and look. You are carrying around at least 560 wounds inside of you.

Injustice has a way of making us round-shouldered if you think about it. But be of good cheer. Forgiveness properly practiced can eliminate most of these wounds, allowing you to stand up straight perhaps for the first time in years.

Do the math…..then please consider forgiving.

Robert