It takes steadfast courage to finally decide, “I will forgive.”
So often we know in our mind, through reason, that forgiveness is the right path. Yet, we are hesitant to begin the journey. What if it proves to be too painful? What if I get lost along the way and do not know how to forgive? What if it comes out all wrong?
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
As we have said on other occasions, forgiveness is a choice of the one who was treated unjustly. Over time, as I write in the book, The Forgiving Life, people develop such a love of this virtue that it becomes a part of them. It is at this point that some people now feel obligated to forgive and to pass that knowledge on to others. If this obligation to help others starts to develop in you, please remember that you have chosen to make this your obligation. Others still may not feel the same sense of obligation as you and we should not condemn them for that.
The answer depends on your realistic assessment of your degree of danger in staying in the group. If there is no danger, then forgiving people in the group and even forgiving the group itself may help you to endure the negative attitudes. Your forgiving even might help the people to see your loving response, thus changing negative attitudes to positive. This could take time and so please be aware of that. Group norms do not usually change overnight.
Being sensitive does not mean that you will ignore justice. If you see this happening to you, then acknowledge it and correct your response so that you exercise forgiveness and justice together. Also,not trusting yourself may be related to self-esteem. Have you been deeply hurt by someone to such an extent that it lowered your self-esteem? If so, then your forgiving the person (and seeing his or her inherent worth) may help you to see your own inherent worth, thus increasing your self-esteem and your trust of yourself.
Well-meaning people are making progress in confronting the student-bullying problem across the world…..and yet most of these professionals are not looking closely enough at the real problem to find the best solution.
Here is one example: An educator encourages the bullied students to find ways to calmly stand their ground when being bullied. This can be a way of diffusing the bullying behavior. It seems to work at least in the short-term, but the one bullying could start the mayhem all over again in the next week or two.
Here is a second example: A graduate student finished a masterful review of the bullying literature in the psychological sciences. She reported that a key research topic presently is to examine the coping strategies of those being bullied. Those who seek social support from friends and teachers cope better with the effects of bullying than do those victims who cry.
Help the victim, yes, but what about those who bully? How can we help them and what help do they need?
We suggest the untried—untried—theme that may seem counter-intuitive today, but will appear obvious to many in the future: Yes, help the victim, but also help the one who is bullying to get rid of his or her anger, which is fueling the bullying.
Those who bully have been victimized by others. Help them to reduce their resentment toward those who were the victimizers and the bullying behavior will melt away. Why? Because wanting to harm others comes out of a position of profound woundedness within. Angry people are wounded people and angry, wounded people are the ones who lash out at others, even when these “others” did nothing whatsoever to provoke the verbal or physical attack.
We point principals, teachers, and parents to our anti-bullying forgiveness program intended to melt that anger in the one who bullies…..so that victims are no longer victims…..because the one bullying has no need any more to throw his wounds onto others. Forgiveness heals those wounds.
It is the year 2525 and somehow the word “forgiveness” has been dropped from the vocabulary of every person on the planet. The word “mercy” was dropped long before that. Justice first, justice last, justice foremost is the unchallenged thought of all. If justice gets a bit out of hand, that is just collateral damage to be corrected some time in the future so we can all move on with our business now.
If someone steals because he was hungry, then he knew the rules. Punish him.
If an adolescent is too depressed to study, then she knew the rules and so fail her. Trying to understand her or to sympathize with her is to let her off too easily. What if we let off others, too, who are anxious or abused or troubled? There would be chaos.
Rules are rules and as we know rules prevent chaos and lead to an orderly society. We want a clean, sanitized community and taking time to heal people’s emotional wounds can be so messy. And besides, there is no rule in our rule book that says we are obligated to clean up the messiness of sadness or loneliness or alienation. One person’s loneliness is another person’s blissful, refreshing solitude.
If you are kind to those who are not kind to you, then you are weak and are letting that person walk all over you. Be strong. Walk away. You will never regret it.
Pass by that child on the street who just ran away from a father who abused her. She might cry and disrupt those who are on their way to important meetings to make the world better. She will get over it.
The crying infant can wait. We have to teach it—it—to delay gratification.
You don’t agree with me? I have a committee that does agree and you will be hearing from them in due course. It will be better for you if you adjust to the right way of thinking so we just can all get along.
So, how are you liking the world without forgiveness and mercy so far? What will you do to plant a bit more of forgiveness and mercy into the world…….today?
The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland – The court trial for a former Nazi concentration camp guard has triggered an emotional battle among Holocaust survivors over whether they can – or should – forgive their tormentors.
Former SS Sgt. Oskar Groening is being tried in Germany as an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz. (See the Forgiveness News article immediately below this one dated 4/28/15 for more on the 93-year-old Groening’s trial.)
Now 81-year-old Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who was subjected to horrific experiments at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by camp doctor Josef Mengeleis, is being critized after publicly forgiving Gröening for his role in the crimes against her family.
Other concentration camp survivors (co-plaintiffs in the trial) have attacked Kor for staging a “one- woman rehabilitation” show.
“Being a co-plaintiff in the name of the murdered while using this role for public and personal forgiveness – that doesn’t fit together,” they said in a statement. “We cannot forgive Mr Gröening for his participation in the murder of our relatives.”
Kor, however, is unrepentant. She says her show of forgiveness is a gesture of respect to Holocaust victims and has given her inner peace.
“Even if every Nazi was hanged for their crimes, my life would be the same,” she said. “But if we give each other the hand as humans – good, bad and indifferent – then something can happen.”
Kor added, “I’m a survivor, not a victim. Fostering victimhood doesn’t help victims and society shouldn’t encourage it. We cannot heal victims by continuing victimhood, but by encouraging forgiveness.”