Those are the words of Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust who, with her twin sister Miriam, was subjected to human experimentation under Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Both of her parents and two older sisters died at the camp; only she and Miriam survived the near-starvation, illness, and other indignities of the camp.
Eva has written an emotional blog, exclusively for the International Forgiveness Institute, entitled “My Forgiveness.” It begins with these words:
“Forgiveness is a way of healing oneself from pain, trauma, and tragedy. It is a means of self-liberation and self-empowerment.”
In one of her many interviews following her release, Eva told the anecdote of how she once sat in her room, imagining that Joseph Mengele was sitting right next to her. .
“I picked up a dictionary and wrote 20 nasty words, which I read clear and loud to that make-believe Mengele in the room. And in the end, I said: ‘In spite of all that, I forgive you.’ Made me feel very good, that I, the little guinea pig of 50 years, even had the power over the Angel of Death of Auschwitz.’ ” Source: The Vintage News
After the brutal slaying of her teenage son, Janet Connors reached out to her son’s killer to offer a chance for forgiveness. They soon teamed up with a group of mothers of murdered children to help young people in their community break the chain of violence and revenge.
That tale of forgiveness and healing is now a new, award-winning documentary film called Circle Up. It is a call to action for reframing approaches to crime and punishment through the lenses of
forgiveness, restorative justice, and accountability. Throughout, the film focuses on human dignity, violence prevention, and healing. .
Now you have an opportunity to be one of the first in the country to see this gut-wrenching yet heartwarming documentary. A special screening is being held in Madison, WI on Saturday, March 10. Free admission. .
Circle Up Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion
Discovery Building UW-Madison Campus 330 N. Orchard St. Madison, WI 53715
The 69-minute documentary film will be followed by Q&A with director, Julie Mallozzi, and a panel discussion with individuals working on or participating in restorative justice initiatives in the Madison area. This event is being hosted by Dane County TimeBank and is being co-sponsored by organizations that include the International Forgiveness Institute.
Click here for more info about the film and to watch the trailer.
Click here for information on the Director’s Q&A and Panel Discussion.
Click here for a list of other screenings throughout the country.
Through my work as an existential logotherapeutic coach, I help people find meaning in everything in their life, including work, family relationships, and in situations where they face insurmountable suffering. I do this mainly by working with the power of forgiveness.
In my home country, Colombia, forgiveness seems like an impossible task for many. With a history of more than 60 years marked by war, drug trafficking and constant conflict, entire populations have now had to confront a hard question: will they forgive those who horribly hurt them even if they never asked for forgiveness?
This made me look for ways I could help those clients who had to leave their home behind, fearing for their safety, and who came to a city that in more than one occasion, receives them with a hostile environment and not much help. Many people with deep wounds derived from the conflict and a past of violence, resentment and vengeance.
As I looked for ways to help, I researched many therapies, but with time, I found them temporary or incomplete. I also looked into the initiatives of religious groups, and though they were having some admirable results, they did not appeal to non-believers.
Then I heard about the International Forgiveness Institute, and all their research on how forgiveness is a psychological matter, not only a religious one. I was personally impressed by their focus on forgiveness’ impact on psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and others as measurable variables. For me, it meant that now we can present evidence that forgiveness works and can in fact change hearts!
Finding meaning and forgiveness in a life full of resentments is crucial to heal. To see the offender as a human being and giving them what they deserve in dignity and love, changes your life and theirs. It restores justice even without reconciliation.
Forgiveness gives you a second chance for a meaningful and happy life, an opportunity to live a better, healthier, fulfilling life where people reach for their dreams without the weight of resentful thoughts.
As a life coach, I found particularly reassuring and helpful to learn that forgiveness has a measurable impact on the people I treat despite what the offense was. My time studying at the Forgiveness Institute gave me more tools to better treat my clients, to measure their progress and to encourage them to strive for a better and more meaningful life.
For the first time ever, two prominent international organizations are teaming up to conduct an intercontinental conference on forgiveness in May of this year. Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and “the forgiveness trailblazer” (Time magazine), will be the keynote speaker on the opening day of the event. .
“Forgiveness in Health, Medicine and Social Sciences” is the title for the 6th European Conference on Religion, Spirituality and Health (ECRSH-Switzerland) and the 5th International Conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS-UK). The joint venture Conference takes place from May 17 to 19, 2018, at the University of Coventry, England.
The Conference will be a scientific gathering of researchers, health professionals and other experts from many nations. Symposia, abstracts and poster presentations will allow researchers to discuss and present their research projects.
The Conference will be held at TechnoCentre, Coventry University Technology Park, Puma Way, Coventry, UK. For more information, please visit the website of either of the two sponsoring organizations:
Editor’s Note:That designation was issued by CRUX Media last week as part of an intense and revealing interview with Dr. Enright that was conducted while he was in Rome for the Rome Forgiveness Conference at the University of Santa Croce.
Among the interview questions addressed by Dr. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, were these: What does the science of forgiveness tell us? What are the consequences of forgiving? In such battle-scarred parts of the world as Northern Ireland, does your science work? Do you find religious people are more inclined to forgive?
ROME – Scientific study of the world has been around for a while now, so it’s rare these days to meet the founder of an entirely new branch of science. That, however, is what you’ve got in full living color in the person of Robert Enright, a Catholic who teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and who pioneered what’s today known as “forgiveness science.”
Enright has spent the last thirty-plus years developing hard, empirical answers, including a four-phase, twenty-step process to lead patients to forgive. He insists data prove it has positive effects, including tangible reductions in anxiety, anger and psychological depression, and gains in self-esteem and optimism about the future.
Enright is in Rome this week, to speak at a Jan. 18 conference on forgiveness at the University of the Holy Cross, the Opus Dei-sponsored university here. He’s applied his tools in some of the world’s least forgiving places, including Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine, and Liberia. . . .
John L. Allen Jr.has written nine books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs and is a renowned columnist and speaker in both the US and internationally. His articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, The Tablet, Jesus, Second Opinion, The Nation, the Miami Herald, Die Furche, the Irish Examiner, and many other publications.He has received honorary doctorates from four universities in the US and Canada, is a senior Vatican analyst for CNN, and was a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter for 16 years. Allen is a native of Kansas, a state in the exact geographic center of the US.
CRUX Media, Rome, Italy – Horton Hears a Who, the classic tale of the elephant Horton and his struggle to save the invisible “Whos,” is a staple in the forgiveness education programs Dr. Robert Enright has been nurturing in Belfast for the past 16 years. Now, according to one prominent media source, Dr. Enright’s curriculum guides have “proven an effective way to teach forgiveness in a community long torn apart by Catholic and Protestant tensions.”
Calling forgiveness therapy “a relatively new and scarcely-used science aimed at understanding and applying the redeeming quality of forgiveness,” CRUX Mediasays Dr. Enright’s use of Dr. Seuss stories provides “powerful tools for imparting values, especially to children.”
CRUX, an international, independent Catholic media outlet operated in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, featured Dr. Enright’s work in itsJan. 20 website edition.
According to the article, Holy Cross Primary School, for girls aged 4 to 11, was one of the first Belfast schools to adopt Dr. Enright’s forgiveness initiative and has used it continuously since 2001. One of the school’s teachers says forgiveness is a crucial concept there because students have first-hand knowledge of abuse, suicide, violence, and family breakdown.
“This program empowers children to solve their own problems and recognize the inherent worth of others,” according to Annette Shannon, a support teacher at Holy Cross who has worked with Dr. Enright and his curriculum guides for the past six years. The concepts they are learning about self-worth and respect, she adds, “are important and powerful enough to be a force to bring change in their community,”
As he watches his work in Northern Ireland flourish, Dr. Enright earnestly believes, as do many others, “that forgiveness can be a path to peace, to be passed down through the generations.”
“Robert Enright, PhD, is a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness,” LaBianca outlines in the prelude to her article. “Here, he breaks down his four-phase model that has helped countless patients overcome anxiety, depression, and resentment, by allowing them to truly forgive.”
While forgiving will indeed require some effort, you don’t need a mental health professional to lead you down the path of forgiveness, according to the article. It’s something you can achieve on your own, as long as you know which steps to take.
Here are the 12 forgiveness process steps LaBianca explains in her article:
Know that forgiveness is available to everyone
Decide you want to choose forgiveness
Make a list
Uncover your anger
Commit to forgiveness
Consider the other person’s wounds
Consider other person’s humanity
Feel a softening
Bear the pain
Give the person a gift
Begin the discovery phase
Repeat, repeat, repeat
“When we’ve been treated deeply unfairly by others, we should have the tools to deal with that so the effects of that injustice don’t take hold in an unhealthy way,” says Dr. Enright. Following the forgiveness process steps will provide you with those tools.