Anyone can help to start forgiveness education in their own community. If you visit our Store section of this website, you will see that we have professionally-produced curriculum guides for teachers from pre-kindergarten (age 4) through grade 12 (using United States language here) (grade 12 includes students at age 17-18). We also have an anti-bullying guide for middle school and high school. These guides can be used effectively by teachers who are motivated to spend up to one hour a week for about 12-17 weeks instructing students. Each teacher guide (up to high school) uses stories (many by Dr. Seuss) that are appropriate for the grade level. If the books that are recommended in each guide are too expensive, we have professionally-produced book summaries of each one. The summaries are about 2-3 pages long and get at the gist of the stories (as far as forgiveness is concerned).
In impoverished and conflict-zones of the world,we give all of the above materials away for free—no charge and no hidden costs. For others, we ask that they purchase the materials so we can continue serving contentious regions of the world.
You also can access teacher evaluations of these programs in the Education section of the website and you will see that teachers are very favorable to these programs.
Consider taking courage in hand and bringing a sample of the teacher guides to a local school (along with the teacher-evaluation information and perhaps the Basic Description of the Guides). Tell the principal or teacher about the objective of forgiveness education: to help children grown in the virtues of love, mercy, and forgiveness, which can reduce student anger and increase academic achievement. Tell the principal or teacher that we provide free materials (if they are in an impoverished or contentious region).
Good philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom. Good education is the same. Part of being wise is to know how to control one’s anger, to reduce resentment, and to forge healthy relationships in the home and in the community. Forgiveness, seen in scientific studies, is one effective way of reducing resentment and fostering better behavior and relationships. If we then deprive a child of this part of wisdom, are we somehow aiding that child’s development or stifling it? Teaching about forgiveness is far from child abuse. Deliberately withholding knowledge of forgiveness is educational deprivation, which should happen to no child.
Monrovia, Liberia – More than 4,800 people died from Ebola between 2014 and 2016 in Liberia—the West African country hardest hit by the outbreak. Now, just four years later, the country of 4.8 million people is facing a new threat — the deadly uncertainty of the coronavirus epidemic.
Government officials in the capital city of Monrovia, where confirmed cases are just starting to ramp up, are optimistically reporting that Liberia can draw on its Ebola experience to overcome COVID-19. Doctors in the trenches, however, still fear the country is woefully under-equipped for a large outbreak.
Already decimated by back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003, Liberia’s economy is still reeling from the impact of Ebola. About half of all Liberian’s live on less than two US dollars a day (1.75 euros), according to the World Bank. The healthcare system is generally acknowledged as underfunded, fragile, and lacking the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed for healthcare workers.
Liberian authorities are acutely aware of the risk. Coronavirus cases remain relatively low for now, but they are rising rapidly. In neighboring Guinea—which was also hit by Ebola, and which suffers many of the same problems—infections have skyrocketed.
Perhaps most troubling, nearly one-third (28%) of all the confirmed coronavirus cases in Liberia have been among health workers themselves, according to the National Public Health Institution of Liberia (NPHIL). The organization’s director has said that fighting the virus outbreak will be difficult because the entire country has only one ventilator to help critical COVID-19 patients breathe.
On April 11, Liberian President George Weah declared a 14-day State of Emergency and locked down Monrovia, the country’s largest city with 1.5 million residents. Liberia’s legislature recently extended the country’s State of Emergency to 60 days. Despite those stay-at-home orders, confusion has reigned as false information about the coronavirus has been disseminated causing panic in some of the city’s overcrowded districts and frequent clashes with security officials.
Doctors Without Borders – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are racing to respond to the coronavirus pandemic not only in Liberia but also in the more than 70 countries where they run existing programs. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Liberia have now risen past 100 while the number throughout Africa now exceeds 30,000.
Worldwide, the response to COVID-19 has relied heavily on large-scale lockdowns of populations and physical distancing measures, with the aim of reducing transmission and preventing health systems from becoming overwhelmed. But for people dependent on daily activities for their very survival, such as day laborers and those living in Monrovia’s overcrowded settings, self-isolation and lockdowns are not realistic.
“Most recommendations for protecting people against the virus and slowing down its spread simply cannot be implemented here,” says Cristian Reynders, a field coordinator for MSF operations. “How can you ask homeless people to stay at home to avoid infection? Those living in tents in camps don’t have homes.”
That means, of course, that the COVID-19 playbook that wealthy nations have come to know—stay home as much as possible, keep a six foot distance from others, wash hands often—will be nearly impossible to follow in much of the developing world. Even hand-washing is problematic in Liberia where 35% of residents do not have regular access to soap and water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Public hand washing stations in Liberia—which were effective in the fight against Ebola—are often as simple as two buckets—one filled with chlorinated water, and one to catch the wastewater. Sanitation, however, is as problematic in big cities as it is in rural areas. In Monrovia, less than half the city’s 1.5 million people have access to working toilets, according to Liberia’s Water and Sewer Corporation.
The fight against coronavirus will not be won until every country in the world can control the disease. But not every country has the same ability to protect people.
Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, Director of ICA, a global health organization at Columbia University in New York City
Monrovia residents who display coronavirus systems are currently taken to a military hospital where they—along with other “high risk contacts” are tested and, if necessary, treated, according to the Acting Director General of the NPHIL. According to the organization, Liberia has only one lab in the entire country that is available for COVID-19 testing.
Because the lockdown included the closing of schools across Liberia on March 16, Forgiveness Education classes and after-school forgiveness programs have also been disrupted. Education providers, however, including those working with the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), are racing to launch remote learning options as students once again face the prospect of staying out of school for months.
“We are now using an extension-outreach approach so children can continue to learn about forgiveness,” says Bishop Kortu Brown, Chairman/CEO of Church Aid and national coordinator of the Liberia Forgiveness Education Program that was established by IFI-co-founder Dr. Robert Enright more than 8 years ago. “Instead of teaching students in a classroom, our teachers prepare notes that are distributed to children at home. Parents then help deliver the message and assess the performance of their children.”
Bishop Brown, who is also president of both the Liberia Council of Churches (LLC) and the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL), said those organizations are spearheading “a massive coronavirus awareness campaign,” helping train COVID-19 contact tracers, and distributing food and hygiene materials.
“Meanwhile,” Bishop Brown added, “we call on all churches and Liberians, in general, to continue to observe the preventive measures and to continue to pray for the safety and wellbeing of the country.”
BBC News, South Korea – The leader of a religious sect in South Korea has publicly apologized and begged forgiveness for the role he and his followers played in spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19) to thousands of others there.
Wearing a white mask and fogged glasses, the 88-year-old Lee suddenly stood up in the middle of reading his remarks at a hastily-arranged news conference outside the Shincheonji Church in Gapyeong on March 3rd. He twice silently knelt beside the desk he was seated at and bowed his head to the ground over clasped hands, a significant gesture of contrition in Korean custom.
Lee is the charismatic, self-proclaimed messiah (“the second coming of Jesus”) of the church he founded in 1984. He has been widely criticized for failing to do enough to stop the virus after one of its members tested positive and infected many others.
A 61-year-old female church member developed a fever on February 10 but refused to be tested until a week later. By that time, she had participated in at least two services (along with more than 1,000 other followers) at a Shincheonji Church in the city of Daegu. She also traveled to crowded spots in the capital of Seoul (metro population of 25.6 million) before she contacted a hospital to get tested.
The next day, Feb. 18, health authorities announced she was the country’s 31st confirmed coronavirus case. After that, the number of confirmed cases in South Korea skyrocketed with the majority in the region of Daegu. As of March 22, the country had recorded 8,961 confirmed coronavirus cases (75% of them in Daegu) and 111 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Seoul.
“I don’t know how this happened, but we will make utmost of efforts, and we are aware that we were wrong,” Lee said at the news conference. “We thank the government for making efforts when what we had tried to stop the coronavirus spread wasn’t enough.”
Lee’s news conference came after Seoul’s mayor filed a criminal complaint asking for an investigation into Lee and other church leaders on charges including murder for their failure to cooperate with health officials. Lee had previously called coronavirus the “devil’s deed” designed to stop his church’s growth (he claims about 200,000 followers in South Korea) but, following government orders, he has closed all of the church’s 74 sanctuaries around the country.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has declared the city of Daegu and parts of the surrounding province as “special disaster zones” because of the unusually high number of confirmed cases in that area. Growing anger over the sect’s handling of the outbreak has sparked a petition calling for the church to be disbanded. Nearly 1.2 million people have already signed it.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Washington, DC) recommends that travelers avoid allnonessential travel to South Korea. For an update on the worldwide pandemic, please scroll down to see the article Tracking the Global Coronavirus Outbreak.
A cutting-edge organization in California that sponsors groundbreaking scientific discoveries has launched a new service called Greater Good in Action and added forgiveness to its list of practices that can help you improve your social or emotional well-being or the well-being of others including your children.
The Greater Good Science Center(GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, not only studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being but also “teaches skills that foster a happier life and a more compassionate society–the science of a meaningful life.”
The Greater Good in Action initiative adds forgiveness to its list of established practices that include compassion, generosity, gratitude, honesty and others. It is a new addition to a service the organization began in July of 2017, called Raising Caring, Courageous Kids that is designed to help parents raise kids of high character who treat others with compassion and respect.
In its inaugural forgiveness practice called Introducing Kids to Forgiveness, Greater Good in Action cites the pioneering forgiveness work of psychologist Robert Enright, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D. (co-authors of Forgiveness Therapy, a manual providing instructions for clinicians who want to incorporate forgiveness interventions into their therapy with clients.
Referencing Dr. Enright’s years of hands-on experience teaching children about forgiveness (he has developed 17 Forgiveness Curriculum Guides for kids in pre-school through 12th grade that are being used in more than 30 countries around the world), Greater Good in Action links readers to a separate dissertation on Dr. Enright’s insightsinto how to help children and adolescents learn and practice forgiveness.
That work concludes that “a wide range of studies have found that forgiveness programs can help kids of different ages feel better, strengthen their relationships, and improve their academic performance.”
Because conflict is inevitable, teaching children about forgiveness early on may indeed be a path toward building communities
of people who prize and cultivate peace.
Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., Parenting Program Director at Greater Good
and a developmental psychologist with expertise in parent-child relationships.
The practices provided by Greater Good in Action are for anyone who wants to improve his or her social and emotional well-being, or the well-being of others, but doesn’t necessarily have the time or money to invest in a formal program. Through its free online magazine Greater Good, the GGSC provides articles, videos, exercises, quizzes, podcasts, workshops and more for parents and families to help them foster positive attributes like forgiveness in themselves and their children.
How Forgiving Are You?
When someone does you wrong, are you more likely to turn the other cheek or slash their tires? Take the Greater Good Forgiveness Quizto find out.
As I look out the window of the hotel in downtown London, awaiting a flight soon to the Middle East, I see a bustling populace moving quickly……except for one man who is shuffling along slowly, quite in contrast to the others. As I watch, he stops, faces a passerby, and obviously is asking for funds. He is ignored. He shuffles a few more steps, approaches another, and is met with the same non-response.
His pattern is repeated over and over. I counted at least 15 approaches and 15 rejections. He then disappeared from view. I think he was invisible to many that day, even to those who were within view of him.
How we bristle when rejected by a co-worker who is not showing respect today or by others who do not share our goals. The man, refused by others over and over, probably felt wounded by the rejections.
The dear man in London was continuously rebuffed, and he kept trying……until after awhile he simply stopped asking. This sequence of approach-and-avoidance reminds me of Ralph McTell’s now classic song, Streets of London (originally released in 1969 and re-released in 2017):
Have you seen the old man In the closed-down market Kicking up the paper, With his worn out shoes? In his eyes you see no pride Hand held loosely at his side Yesterday’s paper telling yesterday’s news…..
In the all-night cafe
At a quarter past eleven, Same old man sitting there on his own Looking at the world Over the rim of his teacup, Each tea lasts an hour Then he wanders home alone……
In our winter city, The rain cries a little pity For one more forgotten hero And a world that doesn’t care.
The word “forgotten” catches my attention. That was the exact word used by imprisoned people serving life sentences with whom we spoke over a month ago. “Once you are here [in a maximum-security prison],” one gentleman explained to me, “you are forgotten.”
The forgotten people……
Yet, our forgiveness studies have taught me this: All people, regardless of circumstance, have inherent or built-in worth. The man, so continually rejected today on the street in London, has as much worth as the royalty in the palace. The one in maximum security prison for life has as much worth as the warden.
And in all likelihood, many of “the forgotten people” have stories to tell us of how they, themselves, were mistreated prior to their current plight. They have stories that include their own particular kind of pain, heartache, feelings that are part of the human condition. We need to hear those stories, to acknowledge their unique pain, their responses to that pain, and offer those suffering injustices from the past a chance to forgive. The forgiveness, for some, might be life changing as our science over the past three decades has shown for others.
We must not let forgiveness be the forgotten virtue.
We must not let the homeless and the imprisoned be the forgotten people.
Alyona Yartsevamoved in 2015 from Russia to Kyrgyzstan (officially the Kyrgyz Republic)–a mountainous country of incredible natural beauty in Central Asia. As she pursued her new life there, intent on helping others improve their own lives, she quickly came to realize that forgiveness is a valuable commodity not only for helping people overcome personal difficulties but also for helping tame the ethnic, political, and socio-economic tensions that simmered there and in surrounding countries that had all gained their independence with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Since Alyona moved to Kyrgyzstan, she has been on “a forgiveness rampage” that has included:
Validating the newly-adapted EFI-30 by using it, along with a checklist of physical health symptoms (a new measuring tool that she created herself), in a forgiveness research project with more than 150 participants;
Participating in a four-month forgiveness intervention internship and conducting post-therapy interviews that “vividly demonstrated” to her the therapeutic effects and positive results of forgiveness;
Conducting a hands-on forgiveness training program for her fellow-AUCA students to demonstrate the four-phases of Dr. Enright’s Process Model of Forgiveness and further expand the use of the EFI-30;
Consulting with “no-charge clients” (as a student she cannot charge for her services) who were able to move towards forgiveness and improve their mental health;
Obtaining and starting to translate into Russian Dr. Enright’s Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program;and,
One of the motivating factors for Alyona’s impressive foray into forgiveness activities was what she was unable to find when she was accepted as a graduate student at the AUCA in the capital city of Bishkek. Although she conducted exhaustive literature searches for anything related to forgiveness written in either the Russian or Kyrgyz language, she found absolutely none.
“As a believer in Jesus Christ, I’ve always understood the value of forgiveness but now I see it from a different professional perspective,”Alyona says.“I want to be able to demonstrate the effects of forgiveness (or unforgiveness) to my colleagues in Russian language publications.”
As Alyona looks ahead to the future, she says that once she completes translating the anti-bullying material she would like to personally introduce it to local school counselors. Following that, she plans to move to Uzbekistan where she wants to popularize forgiveness therapy among local psychologists. She plans to continue her forgiveness research together with a group of colleagues “who have a heart for forgiveness” and is pursuing foundation grants to fund their efforts.
“Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Therapy is at the very top of my tool box as a counselor,” Alyona adds,“and I believe it is essential to promote and research forgiveness therapy and the positive effects of forgiveness in Central Asia.”
Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia–a region which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north. The region consists of the former Soviet republics ofKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The United Nations also includes Afghanistan as part of Central Asia. The region is also colloquially referred to as “the stans” as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix “-stan,” meaning “land of.” ƒ
“If you’ve seen your children struggle to forgive someone for hurting them, you know that forgiveness is complicated,”says Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. “After all, forgiveness is complicated for adults, too.”
Rather than discourage us, however, that reality should in fact encourage parents and teachers to begin teaching children about forgiveness as early as possible and certainly by the time they are in pre-kindergarten, Dr. Enright outlines in an article posted yesterday in Greater Good Magazine. Entitled How We Think About Forgiveness at Different Ages, the article describes how a child’s understanding of forgiving develops as she grows older.
“In over 30 years of studying forgiveness, I have interviewed children and adolescents, as well as college students and adults—and found that our understanding of forgiveness evolves over childhood and young adulthood, partly influenced by what we learn from our parents and communities,” Dr. Enright says.
“Helping our children reach their highest level of forgiving can set them up to live a life without unhealthy anger and with more peace.” Dr. Robert Enright
Dr. Enright’s research indicates that no matter what age a child is at, he starts with some misconceptions about forgiveness including these:
Young children often believe that the proclamation of “I am sorry” followed by the automatic reply of “I forgive you” can solve any conflict.
Fourth graders often equate it with first getting even.
Many 9 to 10-year-old children think they could forgive and make up with classmates only if those classmates first got what they deserved–punishment for their misbehavior.
Compared to fourth graders, seventh graders usually develop what is called a “reciprocal perspective” where they can think of themselves and others at the same time but they often say it will be easier to forgive if they are first compensated for what happened to them.
Many 10th graders take a more complex view of forgiving where the focus is on their peer group and their family context. Here they can understand that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation, and that it is possible to forgive while seeking justice. At the same time, however, there is a tendency to occasionally over-emphasize the advice of the peer group. If the group frowns on the idea of forgiving, then the person may refrain from offering the mercy of forgiveness toward those who were unfair.
Those and other misconceptions children hold about forgiveness can be overcome as they learn and practice true forgiveness, according to Dr. Enright.
“Children can reach a profound understanding of forgiveness in adulthood by persistently practicing it, with the help of parents, when they are hurt by others,” Dr. Enright adds. “Such learning, begun early in life, is a building block for mature adult thinking about forgiveness. Worldwide, it is one path toward peace.”
Through articles, videos, quizzes, and podcasts, Greater Good Magazine bridges the gap between scientific journals and people’s daily lives, particularly for parents, educators, business leaders, and health care professionals. Its goal is to turn scientific research into tools and tips for a happier life and a more compassionate society.
Greater GoodMagazine is published by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 2001, the GGSC has been at the fore of a new scientific movementto explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life.
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 meaning 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 up 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.
The Samuel Mazzuchelli Medallion recognizes those “who cultivate intellectual and spiritual resources to empower others.” One of the College’s highest honors, it is named for Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, who founded theDominican Sisters of Sinsinawa in 1847.
“Tonight we recognize a compassionate educator and voice for healing, Dr. Robert Enright,” said Sr. Maggie Hopkins, O.P., Assistant to the President at Edgewood College, in her opening remarks at the Nov. 4 Award Presentation Dinner. “His vision, direction and scientific research served as groundwork for the International Forgiveness Institute he founded in 1994. To date, his Forgiveness program has impacted more than thirty countries around the globe, inspiring and assisting others to examine and navigate what can seem a difficult and sometimes an insurmountable path to personal freedom – the process of forgiveness.”
According to Sr. Hopkins, the Nov. 4 award presentation date was significant because Fr. Mazzuchelli was born on that date in 1806. She outlined how the Catholic priest, an immigrant from Italy to the US frontier, was a compassionate “voice for the voiceless” in the new American wilderness. His missionary vision, she added, centered on his conviction to offer healing, comfort, forgiveness, hope and justice.
“Similarly, at the heart of Dr. Enright’s vision and teaching is the conviction that forgiveness is a choice as well as the space where transformation begins. As Fr. Mazzuchelli sought to build up others in his time, TODAY through research, learning and expansive outreach, Dr. Enright continues to teach people to choose compassion and forgiveness, to see ‘the other as sister, brother, and friend.'”
Following Sr. Hopkins’ presentation, the Mazzuchelli Medallion was presented to Dr. Enright by Dr. Mary Ellen Gevelinger, O.P., Ed.D., Interim President of Edgewood College–a liberal arts Catholic college that has 1,460 undergraduate students and 700 graduate students. Founded in 1927, Edgewood College has been named to the 2019 “Best National Universities” list by U.S. News & World Report and one of the top ten colleges/universities in the country for promoting social mobility.
Read Sr. Hopkins’ full Award Presentation Remarks:click here.
Edgewood College is located on a 55-acre wooded estate on the shore of Lake Wingra in the heart of Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison. It was donated to the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa in 1881 by Cadwallader C. Washburn, a Civil War general (Union Army) who built an industrial empire (founder of the company that became General Mills) and who became an influential politician (two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, three terms in the U.S. Senate, and Wisconsin’s 11th governor from 1872-1874).
Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa (formally: The Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary of the Order of Preachers) are dedicated to preaching and teaching the Gospel. Today, more than 400 Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters serve in the United States and abroad (including missions in Bolivia and Trinidad and Tobago). Their General Motherhouse, the Sinsinawa Mound Center, is located in southwestern Wisconsin.
Dr. Mary Ellen Gevelinger, O.P., Ed.D., is a seasoned leader and administrator with decades of experience at the helm of complex organizations. She served as both Vicaress(Vice President) and Prioress (Chief Executive) of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa congregation. Earlier in her career, she served as Director of Personnel and Planning for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, with responsibility for more than 100 Catholic schools.
Sister Maggie Hopkins assists the Edgewood College President, leadership and the College community in assuring the consistency of the Dominican Catholic school’s identity and tradition. She became a vowed member of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa in 1966 and has served Edgewood College since 1991.