Our Approach to Anti-Bullying

So many schools see bullying as a behavior in need of being stopped. We disagree.

We are not disagreeing because that first sentence here is wrong.  We are disagreeing because that first sentence is incomplete.

If our primary task is to stop bullying behavior, we fail to look moreGood Heart 6 deeply into the human heart. Those who bully have a story to tell and in the vast majority of cases, those who bully have been bullied….by someone…..at some time. And the angers are unseen and unattended by others. Those who bully usually suffer in silence and the more this happens, the more the rage inside builds, spilling over to innocent others who now are the recipients of that rage.

As we fail to understand this, and as we continue to try restraining the bullying behavior without seeing and acknowledging the wounds in those who bully, we fail to address the situation properly. Thus, there are attacks and wounds and cycles that seem never to end.

As we restrain bullying behavior, we have an obligation to see the wounds within those who bully…and to try to help them bind up those wounds through forgiving.Anti-Bullying Week 2

As we fail to see this, we are not stopping bullying. Instead, we are inadvertently allowing a wounded heart to become a resentful heart which becomes a heart that wants to hurt others….no matter how much we try to constrain this. We need forgiveness education for those who bully……now. In our Store section is an anti-bullying curriculum that provides this broader perspective on a world-wide problem. Take a look. Your actions in helping those who bully could save lives.


Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land – Nov. 7-8, 2014

Don’t miss this upcoming conference, “Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land” – November 7-8, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI.

Hear stories and perspectives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and secular writers and activists concerned with peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. Learn ways to work for justice and peace here in the United States, and meet others who share your interest.

Sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America, this event begins with registration at 12:00 noon on Friday, Nov. 7 and runs through 5pm Saturday.  There will be plenaries and workshops throughout each day. On Friday evening enjoy a Palestinian dinner and cultural program of poetry and Debke folk dancing.

The cost of this event is $85 (full conference) or $50 (for one day).  Online registration is available here, or print a pdf registration form to mail in. For more information, visit https://fosnamadisonconference2014.wordpress.com.

fosna_logo_2Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt Christian ecumenical organization seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through non-violence and education. Sabeel, which means “the way” in Arabic, is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians, who seek a just peace through theological and moral principles and adherence to international law and existing United Nations resolutions. You can learn more about FOSNA and Sabeel at www.fosna.org.

Minnesota Man Urges Forgiveness After Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Disaster

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS/KSTP-TV, Saint Paul, MN –  By now you know the story. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, July 17, 2014. All 298 people aboard the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight died making it the deadliest airliner shootdown in history.

The Boeing 777 plunged out of the sky over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. According to a report byMalaysia Flight 17 the Dutch Safety Board (193 of those killed were Dutch citizens), the plane was likely struck by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” causing it to break up over eastern Ukraine.

For Drew Ryder of Willmar, MN, that Thursday started out as just another typical day at the office–until his phone rang about 10 a.m. It was Ryder’s uncle calling from Amsterdam “totally distraught” saying he had terrible news: Ryder’s brother, Arjen, and sister-in-law, Yvonne, were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

Ryder says he found the news difficult to process, especially as the days wore on and evidence mounted that a deliberate missile attack brought the plane down. Even so, Ryder says his faith has prevented him from participating in the hatred responsible for the attack.

“It doesn’t create for me any need for revenge,” Ryder told KSTP-TV. “If we react in anger and ask for retribution, all we’re doing is continuing the violence.”

Ryder says that if he were able to meet the people responsible for the airline tragedy, he would look them in the eye and say, “I forgive you for what you did.”

Ryder added, “I’m actually praying for those people. We as Christians are asked to forgive those who wrong us.”

Read the full story: “Willmar Man Loses Brother and Sister-in-Law on MH17, Urges Forgiveness

What Is a Good Heart?

A close friend asked one of us, “What is a good heart?” We never had been asked this before. Our response is below. What is your response?Good Heart

A good heart first has suffered. In the suffering, the person knows that all on this planet are subjected to suffering and so his heart is compassionate, patient, supportive, and loving as best he can in this fallen world. The good heart is forgiving, ever forgiving, vigilant in forgiving. The good heart tries to be in service to others. The good heart is no longer afraid of suffering and has joy because of the suffering, not in spite of it. Having suffered and having passed through suffering, the good heart dances. Others do not understand the good, joyous heart. Yet, the one with the good heart does not compromise the goodness and the joy. It is like a valuable gift received and she knows it.


Might tolerance be a better approach than forgiveness? I say this because forgiveness might draw us too close to someone who is not in our best interest. Tolerance allows us to keep a certain and safe distance.

Tolerance will not change the world; love will.  As you make a distinction between forgiveness-as-love and reconciliation (two or more people coming together again in mutual trust), do you see that you can and should keep yourself safe as you forgive?

A friend told me that self-forgiveness is a way to rationalize bad behavior so that you can keep doing it. Is she correct?

Some people consider self-forgiveness to be inappropriate because one cannot judge one’s own actions in an objective way (we are biased and too self-interested to get it right, in other words).  Yet, even if we cannot see our own actions with complete clarity, we do have a conscience that assists us.  Thus, we can assess our actions and words as right or wrong.

When we self-forgive in an accurate way, we see that we have done wrong to self and others and do what we can to change.  In other words, to self-forgive is not only to love oneself after not feeling so loving (toward the self) but also to make amends for the damage the self-forgiver caused to other people.  Thus, self-forgiveness, when understood and practiced properly, is not a trick one plays on oneself to keep going with the behavior (which conscience tells us is unacceptable).

Seeing Beyond the Tears

Sometimes when we are caught up in grief and anger, it seems like this is all there will ever be now in our life.
TearsPermanent tears.  Permanent anger.

Yet, please take a look at two different times in your life in which you were steeped in heartache or rage. The tears came…..and they left.

Today it may seem like these will never end…..but they will.

Take a lesson from your own past. The pains were temporary.

They are temporary even now.Quote 2

Forgiveness helps them to be temporary.


Mother Forgives Son’s Killer

CNN, Jacksonville, FL – On November 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Jordan Russell Davis, a 17-year-old African American high school student, was shot and killed by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old white man. The incident began when Dunn asked Davis and his companions to turn down the loud music that was being played in the vehicle in which Davis was a passenger.

After the jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict on a charge of first-degree murder, the judge declared a mistrial on that count.Jordan Davis Dunn was convicted, however, on three counts of attempted second-degree murder. Dunn’s retrial for first-degree murder began last month and wrapped up on October 1. He was found guilty and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

After the verdict, Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, left many people in awe with her grace and capacity to forgive:

I am praying for him [Dunn] and my church is praying for him. I forgave him a long time ago. I had to. It’s not just about Jordan. And I would not stand and wait for him to apologize. I don’t need his apology. I had forgiven him pretty much in the first 30 days. I just knew that was what I was supposed to do.

I was walking past St. Patrick’s Cathedral with my friend Lisa and I said, “Lisa, I have to go in there.” And I went in and I was just sobbing for two hours. And the Lord helped me forgive [Dunn] right there. In those two hours. I came out and felt like, “Okay, I am done.”

McBath is now the spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that works with legislators, companies, and educational institutions to establish gun reforms.

Read the full story: “Michael Dunn found guilty of 1st-degree murder in loud-music trial” and “Forgiven to Forgive.”

Barriers to Forgiveness, Part 8: Pleasure-Seeking

Last week, I was on an airplane to New York City.  At one point, I started to flip through the airline magazine and this is what I found: page after page was filled with self-indulgences of every kind imaginable.  ThereBarriers were waterfalls and fancy restaurants and fine chocolates and the newest fashions.  Not once was there a message of self-sacrifice or service to others.  I guess such self-sacrifice is not profitable.

The message of self-indulgence stayed with me.  If we are bombarded with constant messages of pleasure, will we become a society that exalts this to a norm, in which pleasure-seeking becomes an accepted way of life?  If so, we may stop examining the assumption that a pleasure-seeking life is one that is not worth living, if our goal is genuine happiness.  When we stop such an examination and give in to pleasure all the time, we may find life to be rather Apple in handmeaningless.  After all, what does one do when all the chocolates are gone or the trip to the hidden chalet is over and the new fashion is, well, not so fashionable any more?

Forgiveness as self-sacrificial service to others is a message diametrically opposed to the messages in that airline magazine.  OK, so I am fuming at her injustice…..pass the bon-bons.  OK, so I am enraged with his firing me……let’s go on a trip.  Pleasure-as-diversion can hide the pain in need of cleansing.  Pleasure-as-self-help may weaken the will to fight for mercy and forgiveness.  One’s energy to be in service to others may weaken.

Hard work and pleasure-seeking surely can be in balance in a full life.  The magazine did not give such a balanced message.  That made me worry……for forgiveness…..for strong wills to give of ourselves even when it is not pleasurable to do so.  May we never over-indulge in pleasure to the point of losing our way with forgiveness, which, in the long run, may produce much more happiness than one more chocolate with an orange center.


What is the difference between forgiving a person and trusting that person?

Forgiveness is a moral virtue as is (for example) justice, patience, and kindness. A moral virtue starts within a person as goodness and then flows out to others for their good. In the case of forgiveness, an unjustly treated person has mercy on someone who acted badly toward the forgiver. One can offer that mercy without trusting a person if he or she continues to behave badly. Trust must be earned. Forgiveness can be given unconditionally as compassion, mercy, and even love no matter how the other behaves. At the same time, one who forgives does not toss the quest for justice aside. One can forgive and seek justice.