Green Bay Packers Foundation Provides Grant to IFI’s “Drive for Others’ Lives” Campaign

The Green Bay Packers Foundation on Wednesday awarded a grant to the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) for its “Drive for Others’ Lives” driver safety campaign.  Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the IFI, accepted the award during an exclusive award-winners luncheon in the 5-story tall Lambeau Field Atrium adjacent to historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.

“We’re proud to award a record $1 million through our annual Packers Foundation grants this year,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said at the event. “We are inspired by the outstanding recipient organizations, who have critical roles in the community and the positive impact thy have on those they serve every day.”

To be eligible, an organization must have been:

  • Physically located in the state of Wisconsin;
  • A not-for-profit tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code; and,
  • Requesting funding for a project/program that addresses issues for at least one of the  focus areas for 2019 that were animal welfare, civic and community, environmental, health and wellness (including drug/alcohol and domestic violence causes).
IFI co-founder Dr. Robert Enright accepted an award from the Green Bay Packers Foundation at a Dec. 4 ceremony in the stadium’s Atrium.

“The IFI grant application focused on the central shared idea between forgiveness and safe driving that all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable and thus all have inherent worth,” Dr. Enright explained after accepting the Green Bay Packers Foundation check. “We need to drive–and live–with this in mind.” 

The “Drive for Others’ Lives” campaign was created by the IFI using scientifically-tested forgiveness principles to encourage development of prosocial behaviors that will help save the lives of drivers, vehicle passengers, and pedestrians.
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The multi-faceted campaign includes free distribution of professionally-designed vehicle bumper stickers imprinted with the “Drive for Others’ Lives” slogan. The 11½” x 3″ bumper stickers have a glossy finish that will last for years and the removable adhesive backing will not leave any residue on the surface where it is affixed. More than 2,000 bumper stickers have been distributed by the IFI since the campaign began earlier this year.

“The bumper sticker will alert everyone who sees it to remember that safe driving practices are not only for you and your occupants but for everyone, because every person is important and every person has inherent worth,” Dr. Enright added. “This idea of inherent worth is basic to all of the forgiveness work we undertake.”

The annual grant program through which the IFI received its award is a component of Green Bay Packers Give Back, the Foundation’s all-encompassing community outreach initiative.  Including this year’s grants, the Foundation now has distributed more than $12.68 million for charitable purposes since it was established in 1986 by Judge Robert J. Parins, then president of the Packers Corporation, “as a vehicle to assure continued contributions to charity.”

  • To learn more about the “Drive for Others’ Lives” campaign, CLICK HERE.
  • To get your free bumper stickers, CLICK HERE.
The “DRIVE FOR OTHERS’ LIVES” bumper sticker was prominently displayed as part of a slide presentation in the Lambeau Field Atrium during the awards luncheon.

You have what you call the Process Model of forgiveness in which you walk people through a series of steps toward forgiveness. It seems to me that this approach is too limiting. Why impose a particular system rather than let people forgive as they wish, when they wish, and with their own freedom of expression?

Let me start with an analogy. Suppose you are from Spain and you fly into Chicago in the United States. As you exit the airport, your goal is to get to Green Bay, Wisconsin. You have no road map and you never have been in the United States before now. Would it be an imposition if someone gave you a road map that leads from Chicago to Green Bay? Certainly, the map-giver knows that there are many different routes you could take to your final destination, but this particular road map is time-tested and gets the person to Green Bay in the shortest time possible. Would this be a service to the person from Spain or an imposition, especially when the map-giver is not insisting on the use of this map?

It is the same with the Process Model of forgiveness. Think of it as your road map to forgiving and it is your choice whether or not to use that map and even whether or not to engage in all of the units of the Process Model. In my own experience, when people want to forgive, many do not know how to do so or to do so in as efficient way as possible. The Process Model is an empirically-verified treatment. In other words, it has been shown in scientific studies to work in aiding people’s forgiving and in reducing emotional distress. It then is the person’s own choice to use it or not, when to use it, and how to use it.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.

Volunteers in Syracuse, New York, Reach Out to Spread the Word About Forgiveness Education

Mary Lou Coons is one of those always-optimistic individuals who uses every tool available to her to overcome life’s adversities–like the brain and spinal cord maladies that have caused her to endure repeated surgeries and years of suffering. Not one to be slowed down by such difficulties, Mary Lou decided to become a self-appointed “forgiveness ambassador” and has been on a mission to teach as many others as she can about the benefits of forgiveness.

This year alone, Mary Lou (who lives in Syracuse, NY) has:

  • Single-handedly convinced her parish elementary school to adopt Forgiveness Education in all of its classrooms from pre-kindergarten
    Mary Lou Coons with her puppet Lily.

    through 6th grade;

  • Organized and set up a booth to promote forgiveness to the more than 1,000 attendees at a Women’s Conference in Syracuse, NY–resulting in more of the state’s schools considering the use of Forgiveness Curriculum Guides; 
  • Developed Forgiveness Education videos featuring her puppet Lily through the Puppets For Peace Foundation she established 13-years-ago; and,
  • Introduced Dr. Enright and his staff to two native-Rwandan missionaries who quickly agreed to teach the IFI Forgiveness Education Program in three grade schools they established following the Rwandan Civil War and Genocide.

Mary Lou first contacted the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) more than seven years ago just days after her second Chiari Malformation brain surgery (technically known as posterior fossa decompression surgery) at a Milwaukee, WI hospital. She had learned that IFI-founder Dr. Robert Enright was pioneering Forgiveness Education work with children and she thought her passion for ventriloquism and puppets could somehow supplement those efforts.

Surgery after surgery, recovery after recovery, Mary Lou never abandoned her passion for her Puppets For Peace Foundation and its mission of “spreading peace, love and joy to others.” With love and forgiveness at the heart of all her efforts, Mary Lou says she learned “how to suffer well” and how to give hope to others who were struggling, too.

“In order to suffer well, you need to love,” Mary Lou writes in one of her website blog entries. “When suffering is accepted with love, it is no longer suffering, but is changed into joy.”

Earlier this year, Mary Lou decided to talk about Dr. Enright’s forgiveness curriculum with one of the pre-K teachers at Holy Family School–a Roman Catholic elementary school on the west edge of Syracuse. That teacher, Nancy Whelan, was so impressed that she arranged a meeting for Mary Lou with the school’s principal, Sister Christina Marie Luczynski.

Shortly after that meeting, Holy Family School officially joined the scores of other  elementary schools in the state of New York and around the country that teach Forgiveness Education at every grade level. That IFI program uses proven Social Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques to teach students about the five moral qualities most important in forgiving another person–inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity–and has been scientifically proven to benefit students by decreasing anger, increasing empathy and cooperation, and improving academic achievement.

Mary Lou Coons and Holy Family School teacher Nancy Whelan distributed forgiveness education materials at the October 26th 10th Annual Syracuse (NY) Catholic Women’s Conference.

Not content to recruit just one school into the program, Mary Lou teamed up with Nancy Whelan again and this time the dynamic duo set up a display booth at the 10th Annual Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference. Together, the two women staffed a Forgiveness Education booth and tried to get forgiveness materials into the hands of every one of the more than 1,000 attendees crowded into the Convention Center for the Oct. 26 event.

Their on-site efforts and follow-up contacts resulted in several other Syracuse-area schools now considering using the IFI’s Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides. Equally important, hundreds of New York women learned about the importance of forgiveness with many of them searching online for additional information causing a spike in the number of visitors to the IFI website following the Conference.

As part of her ongoing forgiveness mission, Mary Lou is now planning to develop a series of short videos with her favorite puppet Lily about forgiveness education and love. You can view one of her pilot vignettes called “Forgiveness Education” on her Puppets For Peace website.

Learn More:

Editor’s Note: Details on Forgiveness Education in Rwanda will be posted here shortly.

New Study Praises Forgiveness as a “Protective Factor That Can Break the Cycle of Violence”

Researchers in Spain have just completed a cyberbullying study with 1,665 secondary school students that not only indicates “forgiveness is a protective factor that can act to break the cycle of violence and improve general health” but that  “anticyberbullying interventions need to focus on promoting forgiveness in adolescents.” 

The study is titled “Forgiveness and cyberbullying in adolescence: Does willingness to forgive help minimize the risk of becoming a cyberbully?” It was conducted by psychology professors at the University of Malaga on the southern coast of Spain and was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior (Vol. 81).

According to the study, adolescents who are subject to cyberbullying (the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature), feel a variety of negative emotions such as shame, anger, guilt, and helplessness.  Those feelings often lead the victims to “bully back” so as to defend themselves or to exact revenge and those behaviors can negatively impact adolescent adjustment.

Consistent with that line of reasoning, the study’s authors say that the strongest predictor of engaging in cyberbullying is being a previous victim of bullying or cyberbullying.  When a victim of bullying and/or cyberbullying turns into a bully, the cycle of violence promulgates itself.

According to the study, however, ” forgiveness is a protective factor that can act to break the cycle of violence and improve general health.” Further, because “forgiveness is a strength that involves the reduction of negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and an increase in more positive feelings, forgiveness can be an effective resource for ameliorating the aggressive states associated with being victimized, and reducing negative reactions to other people’s behavior.”

The authors add that their findings “confirm that lower levels of forgiveness (in students) can represent a risk for cyberbullying aggression. In addition, forgiveness appears to be a key element for addressing the limitations of traditional anti-bullying programs and for helping victims overcome interpersonal transgressions.” 

Students in the study (825 males and 840 females) were in 7th to 12th grades, ranged in age from 11 to 20 years (with a mean age of 14.1 years), and attended six different public schools in Malaga, Spain. The researchers were Lourdes Rey and Cirenia Quintana-Ort.


One promising personal resource that seems to protect individuals after interpersonal transgressions is forgiveness.”
Cirenia Quintana-Ort


In the study’s conclusion, the authors contend that: 1) applying forgiveness interventions may help reduce the likelihood that one will turn into a bully, even after being cyberbullied oneself; 2) that forgiveness could be used as an important adjunct to current approaches for reducing cyberbullying aggression; and, 3) that it would be useful to include evidence-based interventions on forgiveness in the field of anti-bullying interventions.

None of that comes as a surprise to Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), who developed The Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program seven years ago in 2012–the year Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast and the year US President Barack Obama was re-elected to his second term.

“It has always been our contention that bullying starts from within, as anger, and comes out as displaced anger onto the victim,” Dr. Enright says, acknowledging that he has long known what the Spain study disclosed. “Forgiveness targets that anger and then reduces it, thus reducing or eliminating the displaced anger which comes out as bullying.”

Because Dr. Enright wants to share this program and its positive benefits with as many teachers, counselors and parents as possible, the IFI is making the Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program available at no cost. Click here to get your free copy.


LEARN MORE ON THE IFI WEBSITE:

I was told I have not truly forgiven someone, because I do not trust the person anymore. I thought we can forgive an offense, but have to work on restoring trust. Sometimes trust can be restored and reconciliation occurs, but other times it does not. I thought it was also possible to forgive someone without ever trusting them again. Is this not true? Please advise.

You show wisdom in making the distinction between forgiving and reconciling.

Forgiveness is a moral virtue that can start as an interior response to the one who acted unjustly. In other words, forgiveness starts with an insight that the other person has inherent worth, as you do. It also eventually can include what the philosopher, Joanna North, calls the “softened heart,” or compassion for the other.

In contrast, reconciliation is a negotiation strategy between two or more people who come together again in mutual trust. One can have the forgiving thoughts and feelings toward the other without interacting with the other person if that person continues to act in a harmful way. A goal of forgiving is to reconcile, but this does not always occur. Reconciliation involves trust, which can be difficult to re-establish unless the other shows what I call “the three R’s” of remorse (inner sorrow), repentance (a verbal expression of that sorry), and when possible recompense (making up for the injustice). These three can help re-establish trust, which usually takes time as the offending ones show a little at a time that they can be trusted by their new actions.

Learn more at Forgiving is not. . .

Finding Meaning in Suffering: I Am Someone Who Can Love Despite Hardship

Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust and a world renown psychiatrist, made the point that the only ones who survived concentration camp were those who somehow could find Holocaust survivors found meaning in their sufferingmeaning in what they suffered. Those who saw their suffering as meaningless died.

In other words, finding meaning in this case meant to find life. What fascinates me about Dr. Frankl’s observations is that finding any meaning seems to count in staying alive. Whether a person saw the suffering as a way to toughen the self, or as a way to reach out to other suffering people was not the main point.

I wonder now, in reflecting on Dr. Frankl’s broad view of meaning in suffering, whether he had it entirely correct. Yes, it may be the case that any meaning can keep a person alive. Yet, what kind of meaning in suffering actually helps a person to thrive, not just to live? Perhaps people thrive only when they derive particular meaning from suffering. Of course, we do not know for sure, and any comment here is not definitive because it is open to scientific investigation and philosophical analysis. With that said, I think that when people realize that suffering helps them to love others more deeply, this is the avenue toward thriving.

How does suffering help people to love more deeply? I think there are at least three ways this happens: 1) Suffering makes people more aware of the wounds that others carry; 2) Suffering makes people more determined to help those others bind To live is to suffer, to survive, is to fin meaning in the suffering. Viktor E. Franklup their wounds, and 3) Suffering gives the sufferer the courage to put into action these insights and motivations to make a difference in the lives of others.

As people love in this way, there are characteristically two consequences which help them to thrive: 1) Those who deliberately love in the face of suffering grow in character, each becomes a better person; and 2) The recipients of this love-in-action have their well-being enhanced. As those who suffer see the fruit of their loving actions, this increases satisfaction with life, increasing thriving.

When we have been treated unjustly by others, this is an occasion of suffering. Let us cultivate the habit under this circumstance of finding this meaning: I have an opportunity now to love those who have hurt me. The one avenue to loving the unjust is to forgive them. Let us remember this meaning to forgiveness: “In my forgiving, I am someone who can love despite hardship.” As we say this routinely and come to know it is true, we may find that we have been given an opportunity to thrive as persons.

Robert

What Is a Good Heart?

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

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.

Robert