I have forgiven a friend for rude, inappropriate behavior a couple of times and he keeps at the rudeness. I am beginning to wonder if he sees my forgiveness as weakness. Should I hold back on forgiving the next time so that he gets a different message—that I really mean it when I want him to stop the rude, mean ways?

I think the issue here is reconciliation rather than forgiveness.  You can forgive from the heart and then, with your anger diminished, ask for fairness from the other person.  As you stand firm in the request for justice, you are giving the kind of message that I think is your intention, that the behavior is inappropriate.  So, consider forgiving as soon as you sense anger arising in you from the injustice.  Then have reconciliation in mind by pointing out the behavior that you would like to see him change so that you can again come together in mutual trust.

Why Our Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program Matters

“Bullying will not be tolerated in this school.”

“You are entering a no bullying zone.”

Consciousness raising is good precisely because it challenges each of us to be our best self, to do good for others.

Yet, sometimes some students are so emotionally wounded that their anger overwhelms the attempt at consciousness raising.  The students are so very wounded that they cannot listen well.  Some are so wounded that they refuse to listen.  Even others are so mortally wounded that they find a certain pleasure in inflicting pain on others.  It is when it gets to that point—others’ pain equals pleasure for the one inflicting it—that we have a stubborn problem on our hands.  No signs, no consciousness raising, no rally in the gym, no pressure to be good is going to work…..because the gravely wounded student is now beyond listening.

Yet, we have found a hidden way to reverse the trend in those who are so hurting that they derive pain from hurting others.  It is this:  Ask the hurting students, those labeled so often as bullies, to tell their story of pain, their story of how others have abused them.  Tell Your StoryYou will see this as the rule rather than the exception: Those who inflict pain over and over have stories of abuse toward them that would make you weep.  In fact, we have seen the weeping come from the one who has bullied others, the one who has inflicted serious pain onto others.  He wept because, as he put it, “No one ever asked me for my story before.”  His story was one of cruel child abuse from an alcoholic father who bruised him until he bled.  And no one ever asked him about this.  And so he struck out at others.  Once he told his story, he began to forgive his father and his pain lessened and thus his need to inflict pain on others slowly melted away.

We all have a storyThis is what our Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program does.  It aids counselors and teachers in bringing out the stories in the pain-inflictors so that their own pain dramatically decreases.  As this happens, through forgiveness, bullying behavior is rendered powerless……because in examining their own hurt they finally realize how much hurt they have inflicted…..and with their own emotional pain gone, they have no desire to live life like this any more.

Come, take our anti-bullying curriculum and save the life of at least one child and help prevent inflicted pain on countless others.

Robert

Rape Victim Meets Attacker to Forgive Him

BBC News UK, London – A rape victim who met her attacker in prison in order to tell him she has forgiven him called the visit a “great” experience to seek “peace and forgiveness together.”

ForgivenessLondon resident Katja Rosenberg, 40, was cycling home after work when she was attacked by a 16-year-old stranger. He was eventually captured and jailed for 14 years after admitting to that attack and another rape of a 51-year-old woman shortly afterwards.

Rosenberg said she felt she could forgive soon after the 2006 rape, believing things must have gone wrong in her attacker’s life. “You wouldn’t ever do that if you felt happy,” she told BBC Radio 5 live.

Rosenberg said she had always felt in the years since that she should meet her attacker. She finally visited him in prison last September–a meeting arranged through a restorative justice program.  Rosenberg said she was partly motivated by a wish to assure her attacker that “life’s not hopeless, that he knows he’s got a future”, she said.

“I just felt I could give that. I also thought the exchange would be good for me to somehow get some kind of closure – I mean, I didn’t really need a ‘Sorry’, but it was somehow just good to see that you walk into the same direction of peace and forgiveness together.”

Read the full story: “Rape victim meets attacker to forgive him.”

Forgiveness as Order

I was reflecting on all of the disorder within schools during 2013.  It has been reported that there were 30 shootings at schools in the United States in this one year period.  Think about that for a moment. The context of the shootings centers on innocent children, adolescents, and young adults (at universities) who are unarmed and innocent.

Such disorder.

How many family break-ups were there in 2013 or acts of bullying that cut deeply into the very being of those bullied?

Such disorder.

MandelaForgiveness is a profound response to disorder.  What do you think?  Do you think any of those school shootings would have happened if the men responsible for the mayhem had practiced forgiveness and rightly ordered their emotions from rage to calm?

What do you think?  Do you think all of the family break-ups would have happened if both sides of the conflict practiced forgiveness?  And perhaps the forgiveness needed to be toward people from years before because our left-over anger from childhood can follow us into adulthood and strike the innocent.

Forgiveness likely could have averted some of those break-ups if forgiveness toward each other in the present and toward parents from the past had been practiced.  Forgiveness could have restored order……..and prevented disorder.

The same theme applies to bullying.  If those who bully could only forgive those who have abused them, would the bullying continue or would the behavior become more orderly, more civil?

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for restoringThe_Power_of_Forgiveness_Chain order within an injured self, within relationships, and within and between communities. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for preventing disorder.

What do you think?  Do you think that forgiveness could save our planet from destruction by enraged people with the weaponry to destroy?  Forgiveness is about order, protection, wholeness, and love.

It is time for individuals and communities to see this and to have the courage to bring forgiveness into the light….to restore and then enhance order while it prevents the destruction of disorder.

Robert

There are a lot of shows on television that use the expression of anger as entertainment (Jerry Springer, as one example). Do you think the demonstrations of anger on such shows has an effect on the rest of us, on how we think about and deal with our anger?

For those who watch these shows, yes, I do think that anger expression can become more frequent and more intense. Research on the effects of modeling (observing and then imitating others) shows that people tend to imitate that which they see in others, particularly those whom they admire. So, please guard what you watch.

“I Have Forgiven You for Murdering My Mother. . .”

Amarillo Globe News, Amarillo, Texas – Before a District Judge sentenced a 22-year-old man to life in prison without parole for killing an 84-year-old woman and assaulting her developmentally disabled daughter, the woman’s adult children addressed the court to talk of forgiveness and faith.

Imogene Wilmoth Harris, who died of blunt force trauma on Aug. 14, 2011, was described by her family as a giving woman who taught Bible study and worked with stroke victims to help them regain their speech. The man who killed her, Esequiel Gomez Jr.,  was eventually captured and pled guilty to capital murder in a plea agreement that spared him from Death Row.

Mother-daughterFamily members, who supported the decision to grant Gomez a life sentence instead of lethal injection, spoke at his sentencing last week in a tiny, hushed courtroom.

“The bottom line is this, Mr. Gomez: I have forgiven you,” said Harris’ daughter Shelley Fields. “I have forgiven you for murdering my mother and raping my little sister, but I will never forget what you took from us that night.”

Another daughter, Holly Chester, also told Gomez she forgave him while the victim’s eldest daughter, Peggy Guthrie, said, “God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others.”

Read the full story: “Tulia family speaks of forgiveness, punishment during killer’s sentencing.”

Our Follow-up on “Phony Forgiveness”

Timing is amazing sometimes.  We posted a blog essay yesterday (just below this one) on three reasons why quick forgiveness is not necessarily “phony forgiveness” and we then came across this story: “Parents no longer forgive shooter of teen.”

Apparently, parents of a slain youth retracted their forgivenessForgiveness-Eraser toward the man who shot him.

We would like to claim that their first overture of forgiveness seems very sincere based on the news story. We have to remember our second point in the earlier blog post: psychological defenses are sometimes strong when tragedy strikes. As they lessen, anger rises.  Now the deep work of forgiveness might begin….in time.  And one more point: Even a retraction of forgiveness is not necessarily a final word on the matter.

Robert