Perseverance and Forgiveness

2002…. That is the year the International Forgiveness Institute began writing forgiveness education curriculum guides for teachers. We started with first grade classrooms in Belfast, Holy Family School-BelfastNorthern Ireland. When we started knocking on principals’ doors to discuss this life-giving project, we were met with skepticism.

“You will not last more than three years,” was what we heard consistently. Three years? Why three in particular?

“Because when people come from foreign lands to help Belfast, those well-meaning people never stay more than three years,” was the retort.

It became apparent that people go to Belfast with high expectations, great enthusiasm, and lots of adrenaline as they embark on their new adventure. Then the reality strikes. By year three the fatigue sets in, the streets of Belfast are all too familiar. It is now work and not adventure. Goodbye, Belfast!

The IFI has had a presence in Belfast for 14 years now. So far, we have beaten the odds by staying almost 5 times longer than expected.

This issue of perseverance and endurance has me thinking. How can one endurancepreserve the idea of forgiveness in families, schools, places of worship, and places of employment? That seems easy……for about three years, but what about the next 10 or 20 or even 40 years?

How can forgiveness endure when there are so many diversions in life, so many new and good and novel ways to introduce new curricula to schools or new programs to businesses?

It takes a team and at least one person with an iron-clad will in the short-run. Forgiveness can too easily fade from the scene without this.

How will you preserve forgiveness in your own heart and in your most
important relationships? How will Drifting 2you keep it from drifting out to sea, almost unnoticed as it fades? The first step is to realize that this can happen….and then not let it happen.
Robert

Forgiveness: the Keystone of Human Values

Forgiveness can be “one way to reduce conflict and hostility, as well as to promote understanding and respect, to diminish unresolved hurt and pain that burdens many.” [1] Forgiveness is a choice, a decision, an act of bravery requiring courage; it is hard work.

That’s how Fr. Brian Cavanaugh characterizes forgiveness after KEYSTONEresearching and teaching forgiveness for 19 years, reading every piece of forgiveness literature he could get his hands on, and receiving feedback from hundreds of presentations, workshops and retreats.

A member of the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular (TOR), Fr. Cavanaugh has now written a scholarly yet intriguing and entertaining treatise on the subject. It was published earlier this year as a 2-part series by Pioneer Magazine, and can be accessed through these links:

“Forgiveness: the Keystone of Human Values” Part I (Jan. 2015)
“Forgiveness: the Keystone of Human Values” Part II (Feb. 2015)

Pioneer Magazine is published Keystone 2by the (PTAA) which was founded in 1898 in Dublin, Ireland. The Association’s mission is to address the problems in society caused by excess alcohol consumption and drug usage. Its vision is to “help to build a society where people live to their full potential and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation, avoiding the ills that arise in society from excess in its use.” Pioneer Magazine is a monthly publication now in its 67th year.

You can access and order any of the nine books Fr. Cavanaugh has written by visiting “Books By Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.” You can also view and download his amazing collection of photos including hundreds of flowers, sunrises and sunsets, fall foliage, and winter scenes all on his website at “Fr. Brian’s Photo Galleries.” 

[1] McCullough, Michael E., Kenneth I. Pargament and Carl E. Thoresen, eds. (National Institute of Mental Health). Forgiveness: Theory, Research and Practice. New York:  The Guilford, 2000.

Future Forgiveness Again

Do you realize that your practicing forgiveness now may pay unexpected dividends for you decades from now? As an example, look at how the Amish community handled the tragedy in Pennsylvania in 2006. The world wondered how the community could stand in forgiveness after 10 Pot of Goldgirls were shot and 5 died.  The answer: Forgiveness is part of their daily culture.

Please realize that each decision and each act of forgiveness now may pay great dividends for you and others 20 years from now. Forgiveness today is an investment in your future.
Robert

Future Forgiveness for You

To grow in any virtue is similar to building muscle in the gym through persistent hard work. We surely do not want to overdo anything, including the pursuit of fitness.

Yet, we must avoid under-doing it, too, if we are to continue to grow. It
Muscles3is the same with forgiveness. We need to be persistently developing our forgiveness muscles as we become forgivingly fit. This opportunity is now laid out before you. What will you choose? Will you choose a life of diversion, comfort, and pleasure, or the more exciting life of risking love, challenging yourself to forgive, and helping others in their forgiveness fitness?

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving LifeA Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 5359-5360). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

I suffer from chronic anxiety. Will this alter how I go through the forgiveness process relative to those who are not suffering in this way?

Sometimes our anxiety comes from not feeling safe. Sometimes our not feeling safe emerges when others treat us unfairly. In other words, you may be expecting poor treatment from others now, even those who usually are fair.

A first step may be to think of one person who may have hurt you and at whom you still harbor resentment. You can forgive through the exact same pathway as described, for example, in the book, Forgiveness Is a Choice. With anger lessened, anxiety can diminish. Of course, this will vary for each person. We have to be gentle with ourselves as we learn to forgive, to give up anger, and to know with some confidence that we can meet the next interpersonal challenge with forgiveness, helping us to meet these challenges with less anxiety than in the past.

Medical, Psychology and Religious Professionals Learn About “The Healing Art of Forgiveness”

Orthodox Christian professionals in and allied to medicine, psychology and religion learned about “The Healing Art of Forgiveness” at an international conference held in Boston, MA, last weekend (Nov. 5-7).

Peli Galiti
Peli Galiti, Program Manager, International Forgiveness Institute

Peli Galiti, Ph.D., delivered the forgiveness workshop as part of the Annual Conference of OCAMPR–The Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion. She shared the stage at the Conference with distinguished speakers including: the Director of the Pediatric Psychiatric Care Program at the Montreal (Canada) Children’s Hospital; a psychotherapy and pastoral care specialist from Kitherona, Greece; and, a psychiatrist who is a priest in the Church of Greece and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Divinity School.

Peli’s workshop included an Orthodox perspective of forgiveness, a synopsis of Dr. Robert Enright’s scientific research studies, and an overview of the Greek Forgiveness Education Program she established in Athens, Greece, two years ago with Dr. Enright’s guidance and which she now operates as Program Manager for the International Forgiveness Institute.

Peli was born in Athens where she earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Athens before doing post-graduate work in family therapy at hospitals and medical centers in both the US and Greece. She now lives in Madison, WI, with her husband (a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist at American Family Children’s Hospital) and their four children.

OCAMPR is an organization that “fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and promotes Christian fellowship among healing professionals in medicine, psychology and religion.” Its professional members have practices in medicine, nursing, mental health, psychology, ethics, theology, parish ministry, parish nursing, prison and community ministry, social services, and military, institutional and community chaplaincy.

Peli provided a similar presentation at the biennial Metropolis of Chicago Clergy-Laity-Philoptochos Assembly, Archon Retreat and Philoptochos Retreat held in Madison from Nov. 14th through Nov. 18th. The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago consists of thirty-four parishes in Illinois, with another twenty-four parishes in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, northern Indiana, and eastern and central Missouri.

When Evil Seems to Be Having Its Way

Lance Morrow: “Evil possesses an instinct for theater, which is why, in an era of gaudy and gifted media, evil may vastly magnify its damage by the power of horrific images.”      If this is true, we need forgiveness all the more in our times.

good-vs-evilForgiveness is not justice and therefore focuses on effects, not direct solutions to injustice.  When injustice reigns, it surely is the duty of communities to exercise justice to counter that which is unjust.

Yet, what then of the effects of the injustice?  Will the quest for and the establishment of justice in societies suffice to cure the broken heart?  We think not and this is where forgiveness is needed for those who choose it.

Is there a better way of destroying the damaging effects of evil than forgiveness?  As a mode of peace, forgiveness is a paradox because at the same time it is a weapon, one that fights against the ravages of evil.  By destroying resentment, forgiveness is a protection for individuals, families, groups, and societies.

Robert