On the Accumulation of Wounds

Has the struggle with the injustice made you tired? Let us say that you have 10 points of energy to get through each day. How many of those points of energy do you use fighting (even subconsciously) the injustice as an internal struggle? Even if you are giving 1 or 2 points of your energy each day to this, it is too much and could be considered another wound for you.

When you consider the person and the situation now under consideration, do you see any changes in your life that were either a direct or indirect consequence of the person’s injustice? In what way did your life change that led to greater struggle for you? On our 0-to-10 scale, how great a change was there in your life as a result of the injustice? Let a 0 stand for no change whatsoever, a 5 stand for moderate change in your life, and a 10 stand for dramatic change in your life. Your answer will help you determine whether this is another wound for you. As you can see, the wounds from the original injustice have a way of accumulating and adding to your suffering.

Excerpt from the book The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools), Robert D. Enright (2012-07-05).  (Kindle Locations 2750-2753). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 2784-2788). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

In work phase, “the injured individual may strive to understand the injurer’s childhood or put the injurious event in context by understanding the pressures the injurer was under at the time of the offense.” What if this is not possible, since the offended knows very little about the offender who’s not repenting and not responding? Would it be a helpful thing if the offended can only imagine but never know the real reason he/she was offended?

Besides what we call the “personal perspective” (in which the forgiver understands the emotional wounds inflicted on the offender when in childhood and perhaps at the time of the offense), our forgiveness therapy model includes the “global” and “cosmic” perspectives. So, you need not imagine what transpired for the offender in childhood or any other time if you do not know the answer. If what happened to you was very serious, you could speculate that the offender has been seriously emotionally wounded without imagining specifics. In addition, you can focus on your shared humanity in the “global” perspective (for example, you both, by virtue of being human, are special, unique, and irreplaceable). If you have a faith, you can take the “cosmic” perspective and see that both of you, for example, are made in the image and likeness of God.

A Future with Forgiveness Education in World Conflict Zones

Within world conflict zones, we would like to see at least two generations of students (a 24-year vision) introduced to forgiveness with an increase in the developmental challengesDove and Heart for the students each year. By the end of secondary school (post-primary, high school), the students should have a strong foundation in understanding the term forgiveness, know the nuances of forgiving and receiving forgiveness, and have insights into how to give back to the community.  It is our hope that they might consider giving back to the community by introducing others to the concept of forgiveness and its application within friendship, family, and community groups.

Might these students, once they are adults, begin to see that all people possess inherent worth? Might it be a contradiction to one’s own identity to disparage people from “the other side” just because of where they were born, what they believe, or the color of their skin?

Excerpt from the book, Forgiveness Therapy, by R. Enright & R. Fitzgibbons. American Psychological Association, 2015.

Is there a way to see who’s more forgiving? For example, if someone forgives a murderer of her beloved, is that person more forgiving than another person who experienced comparably a minor injustice?

From the examples given, it seems reasonable to assume that we can see which person has the harder task of forgiveness, but difficulty and “more forgiving” are not equivalent. Regarding the “more forgiving” issue, I think we have to look at these factors: 1) How often does a person forgive? 2) How valuable is forgiveness for this person? 3) Does the person have a “love of the virtue,” as Aristotle suggests for maturity, and finally 4) Is forgiveness an important part of the person’s identity, part of his or her life?

How to Pass Forgiveness to the Next Generation: Forming Forgiving Communities, Part 2

In Part 1 we began to define the dimensions of what a Family as Forgiving Community is. We continue the discussion with some practical advice that we call the Family Forgiveness Gathering.

Family Forgiveness Gathering

The parents are encouraged to create a time and place for family discussions. We recommend that the parents gather the family together at least once a week to have a quiet discussion about forgiveness. They are to keep in mind that to forgive is not the same as excusing or forgetting or even reconciling and that forgiveness works hand-in-hand with justice.

Questions for the family forgiveness meeting might include:family 3

– What does it mean to forgive someone?
– Who was particularly kind and loving to you this week?
– What did that feel like?
– When the person was really loving toward you, what were your thoughts about the person?
– When the person was really loving, how did you behave toward that person?
– Was anyone particularly unfair or mean to you this week?
– What did it feel like when you were treated in a mean way?
– What were your thoughts?
– Did you try to forgive the person for being unfair to you?
– What does forgiveness feel like?
– What are your thoughts when you forgive?
– What are your thoughts specifically toward the one who acted unfairly to you when you forgive him or her?
– How did you behave toward the person once you forgave?
– If you have not yet forgiven, what is a first step in forgiving him or her? (Make a decision to be kind, commit to forgiving, begin in a small way to see that the person is in fact a person of worth.)

The parents are reminded that they do not have to know all the answers.