‘Horton Hears a Who’ fosters forgiveness in Northern Ireland

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 Media says 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 its Jan. 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.”

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Love Never Dies

Think about the love that one person has given to you some time in your life. That love is eternal. Love never dies.

If your mother gave you love 20 years ago, that love is still here and you can appropriate it, experience it, feel it.  If you think about it, the love that your deceased family members gave to you years ago is still right here with you.  Even though they passed on in a physical sense, they have left something of the eternal with you, to draw upon whenever you wish.

Now think about the love you have given to others. That love is eternal. Your love never dies. Your actions have consequences for love that will be on this earth long after you are gone.  If you hug a child today, that love, expressed in that hug, can be with that child 50 years from now. Something of you remains here on earth, something good.

Children should be prepared for this kind of thinking through forgiveness education, where they learn that all people have built-in or inherent worth.  One expression of forgiveness, one of its highest expressions, is to love those who have not loved us.  If we educate children in this way, then they may take the idea more seriously that the love given and received can continue……and continue.  It may help them to take more seriously such giving and receiving of love.

We need forgiveness education……now.

Robert

 October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). I’ve read articles about help with forgiveness for the victims of domestic abuse but didn’t see any for the abuser. What about forgiveness therapy for the abusers? If all schools in the USA implement the forgiveness curriculum of IFI how would this affect domestic violence in the younger generation?

Forgiveness therapy for abusers is being implemented now in both medium and maximum security prisons.  The thought behind this work is that those who wound others often have been wounded prior to their crimes.
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This same kind of thinking underlies our Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Curriculum (available here on our website).  If those who bully are taught to forgive the people who have filled them with resentment and unhealthy anger, then we may have taken away a major motivation to hurt others.
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If the younger generation were fortified with forgiveness education from the early elementary grades through high school, I hypothesize that domestic violence would statistically-significantly decrease from its current levels. Thank you for the very interesting ideas.

Forgiveness as Order

I was reflecting on all of the disorder within schools during 2015 and 2016.  It has been reported that there were 35 shootings at schools in the United States in this two-year period.  Think about that for a moment. The context of the shootings centers on innocent children, adolescents, and young adults (at universities) who are unarmed and innocent.

Such disorder.

How many family break-ups were there in 2015-16 or acts of bullying that cut deeply into the very being of those bullied?

Such disorder.

Forgiveness is a profound response to disorder.  What do you think?  Do you think any of those school shootings would have happened if the ones responsible for the mayhem had practiced forgiveness and rightly ordered their emotions from rage to calm?

What do you think?  Do you think all of the family break-ups would have happened if both sides of the conflict practiced forgiveness?  And perhaps the forgiveness needed to be toward people from years before because our left-over anger from childhood can follow us into adulthood and strike the innocent.

Forgiveness likely could have averted some of those break-ups if forgiveness toward each other in the present and toward parents from the past had been practiced.  Forgiveness could have restored order……..and prevented disorder.

The same theme applies to bullying.  If those who bully could only forgive those who have abused them, would the bullying continue or would the behavior become more orderly, more civil?

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for restoring order within an injured self, within relationships, and within and between communities. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for preventing disorder.

What do you think?  Do you think that forgiveness could save our planet from destruction by enraged people with the weaponry to destroy?Forgiveness is about order, protection, wholeness, and love.

It is time for individuals and communities to see this and to have the courage to bring forgiveness into the light….to restore and then enhance order while it destroys disorder.

Robert

Parents Forgive Attacker Who Severely Burned Their Daughter

The Christian Post, Indonesia – Parents of a 4-year-old girl who suffered severe burns in a Sunday terror attack on a church in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province, have forgiven the accused and have said they will not even ask God to punish him.

A bomb, reportedly a Molotov cocktail, was thrown inside the Gerejamolotov-cocktail Oikumene Church compound where children were playing, killing a toddler and injuring three other infants.

Trinity Hutahaean, the 4-year-old girl, was severely wounded in the attack. The toddler’s aunt, Roina Simanjuntak, says the family has forgiven the accused.

“God teaches us to forgive and not to pay revenge,” Simanjuntak quoted the girl’s parents as saying. “I have a big hope that my family members, especially Trinity’s mother, can face this hard time. She is still in traumaindonesia-memorial after seeing what happened to her child.”

Despite tradition to the contrary, the mother did not pray to God to punish the accused, Simanjuntak added.

While the majority of the people in Indonesia are known to be tolerant and moderate, there are several extremist groups in the country. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 1,000 churches in the archipelago have been closed over the last decade due to pressure from such groups.indonesia_map3

Read more:

The Christian Post, Indonesia: Parents of 4-Y-O Burned in Church Bombing Say ‘God Teaches Us to Forgive’ “

The Jakarta Post, Kalimantan church bomber linked to terrorist movement

New Manual for School Counselors — An Introduction to Forgiveness for Adolescents

A new forgiveness intervention manual for at-risk middle school and high school students is now available from the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI)—at no cost.

Forgiveness Over Revenge: Grief, Insight and Virtue through Education (F.O.R.G.I.V.E.) is a training manual intended to serve as an introduction to the topic of forgiveness, both for school counselorsAsk 4 and adolescents. The manual is not meant to serve as a diagnostic or therapeutic tool. Instead, it may be used to introduce the topic of forgiveness and to provide hands-on experience practicing forgiveness-related thought processes and exercises.

Counselors who opt to use the F.O.R.G.I.V.E. manual are provided with ten lessons, each approximately one hour in length. In the first five, students learn the basics of forgiveness, both what it is and what it is not. The remaining five lessons focus on applying the process of forgiveness through targeted activities in a group setting. Instructors may use their observations over the course of the ten sessions to better understand youths’ relationship to forgiveness and to make possible referrals for more directed forgiveness therapy when
appropriate.

The new manual was developed, designed and written by Dayana Kupisk, a current graduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Dayana Kupisk PhotoMadison, who spent a semester studying forgiveness under the direction of Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the IFI. She additionally has experience facilitating life skills and employment training to groups of at-risk youth, which greatly informed her approach for translating research-based information on forgiveness into creative activities that may be done with groups of youth.

This manual is intended for professional counselors with training to do group counseling with middle school and high school students,” according to Kupisk. “Since it contains therapeutic content, in which students focus on forgiving people who have hurt them, it is not for general classroom use, either by teachers or by counselors. Instead, this manual is intended for short-term group counseling with students who have been referred for treatment within the school setting.” 

Kupisk said she wants the F.O.R.G.I.V.E. manual distributed to as many potential users as possible. To accomplish that, she decided to allow the IFI to add the manual to its growing compilation of forgiveness intervention manuals and curriculum guides and to offer it at no cost. The manual can be ordered through the IFI website Store.

The International Forgiveness Institute, based in Madison, WI, is the only worldwide organization that focuses exclusively on forgiveness education for students from pre-kindergarten through high school. The Institute’s school forgiveness programs are operating in the U.S. and 30 other countries.

I think that offenses against children are the worst because they are innocent persons who could carry their hurt into adulthood, compromising health and relationships. How can we go about helping children to forgive if they have not yet had serious unfairness against them?

We have teacher guides for forgiveness education in which the teacher gives the forgiveness instruction through stories.  As children and adolescents see how story characters resolve conflicts and do the inner transformation of forgiveness, then they have models of how to forgive.  It is important that students are not pressured to forgive, but are drawn to it if they wish to try it.