“I was too busy trying to survive. I did not have room to bring forgiveness into my world.”
These two sentences, spoken by someone who lived with an abusive partner for decades, is one of the strongest rationales I have ever read for forgiveness education, starting with 4-year-olds or 5-year-olds.
Do you see that the person, as an adult, did not have the energy and focus to add something new to her arsenal of survival?
What if forgiveness was a natural part of her survival arsenal starting at an early age?
We do this for learning how to speak and write coherent sentences.
We do this for learning how to add so that a budget can be maintained.
We do this for learning how to be just or fair as corrections and punishments are swift to come once one enters the school door and then misbehaves in the school setting.
I think it is tragic that educational institutions and societies fail to make forgiveness a natural part of life through early education. Isn’t a central point about education to help people make their way in society? And isn’t a central point of making one’s way in society having the capacity to confront grave injustices and not be defeated by them? And isn’t a central point of confronting grave injustices the knowledge of how to forgive? And isn’t a central point of knowing how to forgive the thinking about forgiveness and the practice of it in safety, before the storm of evil hits?
And isn’t a central point of knowing forgiveness and practicing forgiveness to aid in the survival of people who could be crushed by others’ cruelty?
Education in its essence will be fundamentally incomplete until educators fold into it the basic strategies for overcoming grave injustice and cruelty so that students, once they are adults, never have to say, “I was too busy trying to survive. I did not have room to bring forgiveness into my world.”
And the tragedy of this incompleteness is this: We now know scientifically-supported pathways to forgive. We have scientifically-tested forgiveness curricula for children and adolescents.
It is time to make “room to bring forgiveness into my world.”