Next Forgiveness Conference Venue: Rome, Italy

Following on the heels of a remarkably successful forgiveness conference in Jerusalem, the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) is now preparing for its next international conference–this one on January 18, 2018 in Rome, Italy.

The magnificent Piazza Navona, one of the most famous of Rome’s many squares. Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (in foreground of photo) features exquisitely carved figures representing the world’s four great rivers – the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata.

The Rome Conference on Forgiveness is a one-day forum that starts at 2:30 pm and concludes at 7:00 pm at the University of Santa Croce (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce), adjacent to the famous Piazza Navona.

“This first-of-its-kind conference in Rome will explore what it means to forgive another person who has been unjust to you,” according to Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the IFI, who is organizing this conference just as he did the one in Jerusalem. “Important ideas on how to help children and adolescents learn to forgive will be presented by international experts in the field of forgiveness education.”

Dr. Enright added that the theme of forgiving within the Abrahamic traditions will be another important topic with a focus on helping youth within those traditions learn to forgive. Dr. Enright has developed Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides for students in pre-school through 12th Grade. Those Guides are now being used in more than 30 countries around the world.

Distinguished speakers at The Rome Conference on Forgiveness and their topics include:

The Colosseum has long been one of Rome’s major tourist attractions, receiving close to seven million visitors annually.

Dr. Robert Enright, the acknowledged pioneer in the social scientific study of forgiveness, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of  Wisconsin, USA, will discuss the science of forgiveness education.

Annette Shannon of Holy Cross Girls Primary School in Belfast, Northern Ireland will focus on the direct application of forgiveness education in her school.

Dr. Barbara Marchica, Catholic theologian, pastoral counselor, and teacher in Milan, Italy will examine forgiveness and forgiveness education in a Christian context.

Peta Pellach of the Elijah Interfaith Institute in Jerusalem will give a talk on forgiveness and forgiveness education in an Orthodox Jewish context.

Omar Al-Barazanch, the new Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican, will discuss the theme of forgiving from the Islamic perspective.

Alison Sutherland of the Rotary Action Group for Peace will explore worldwide issues of forgiveness particularly for youth in war-torn areas.

Grammenos Mastrojenni of the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Honorable Paola Binetti of the Italian Parliament will give talks on how forgiveness can be part of dialogue and political discourse.

Mons Mariano Fazio, Vicar General of Opus Dei, will discuss the teachings on charity and forgiveness of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

For more information, please contact Jacqueline Song
(internationalforgiveness@gmail.com)

On Being Treated Unfairly: Don’t Let Them Win Twice!

So often when I talk with people who have suffered severe injustices, they are not ready to forgive.  This is a normal reaction because a time of anger and adjustment to what happened is important.  Forgiveness never should be rushed or pushed onto anyone.  To the injured does the decision to forgive belong.
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Within the past few weeks, I was talking with a teenager who lives under very trying circumstances.  He lives on the West Coast of the United States.  He has a history of violence against others because “this is the way you survive,” he told me.  “Forgiveness is a sign of weakness,” he added.  “You just can’t imagine what my family would say if I came home and proclaimed that I am forgiving those who hurt me.  They would get a big laugh out of this.”
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Yet, his strategies are not necessarily working for him.  He is in a special program and could be expelled from his school and even from his school district.  Three of his relatives are in maximum security prison.  I hope we can keep him from following them.
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Dr. Robert Enright

What strikes me in particular about this young man is his apparent kindness.  He does not have angry eyes.  He talks in a respectful way to me.  We are engaged in a conversation, not engaged in a battle of wills.  He wants to learn more about forgiveness, but he knows he could pay a dear price for practicing it, especially if his family and peers begin to mock him.

“You can forgive and not tell anyone you did this, not even the one who hut you,” I said.  “Those you forgive will know by how you respond to them, by how you are civil to them.  You do not have to use the word, ‘forgive.’”

“I need my anger,” was his studied response.

Jacqueline Song
Source: Jacqueline Song
“Don’t let them win twice!” I said to him.  “You have been hurt by others’ actions.  Now you are carrying around the **effects** of those injustices against you.  In your hurt, you are hurting others.  In your hurt, you are being told over and over that you are the one who needs rehabilitation.  You are the one being stereotyped.”
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He looked at me with insightful eyes.  He wanted to learn more.
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“Yes, you have been hurt by others.  Now you are hurting others.  You are even hurting yourself by your actions. Do you see how those who hurt you at first are hurting you again?  They may not be present to you, but they are inside of you, disrupting you, angering you, causing you pain and causing you to give pain to others.”

“They have hurt me twice,” was his insight.  He got it.

“The key now is to deliberately commit to do no harm to those who have injured you. Another key now is to deliberately commit to do no harm to others.  Don’t let your pain become others’ pain.  When you do that, those who have hurt you win again.  Those who originally hurt you win twice.”

Jacqueline Song
Source: Jacqueline Song
I added: “When you forgive, you do not throw justice out the window.  When people hurt you, try to exercise both justice and forgiveness together.  And justice is very different from revenge.  When you seek revenge, you are letting the other win as you come to the attention of authorities, when you are punished…..again.”
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“They have hurt me enough.  They will not win again.”
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And with that he committed to working on his own anger…..so that “the bad guys” don’t have a chance to win a second time.  We shook hands.  We have a mutual respect for each other as persons.

Forgiveness Stops the Hurt So the “Bad Guys” Don’t Defeat You


How about you?  Have others hurt you?  Are you allowing them to win again?

Forgiving allows you to win for a change.

Posted Nov 11, 2017

 

Does Forgiveness Victimize the Victim?

In the latest round of false criticism against the moral virtue of forgiveness, we find this: Forgiveness places an extra burden on victims because they already are burdened by injustice.  Now asking them to forgive or even assisting them in forgiveness adds a new challenge, a new burden and this is unfair.  Leave the victim alone, is the advice.

Let us examine this claim of a new unfair burden in forgiving.  Suppose that Person A deliberately hits Person B’s knee with a baseball bat, breaking the knee.  Person B has a burden: the broken knee and the resentment toward Person A.

If Person B now wishes to take seriously the responsibility for physical healing, should this person now go to the emergency room and endure the bright lights and the MRI and the surgery and the physical rehab?  Or, would this be too much of an added burden for Person B.  Perhaps it is unfair to encourage Person B to seek medical help……if we follow the logic of the forgiveness criticism.

Yet, this added burden of medical care, which can be a challenge, is hardly a burden relative to living with a broken knee that may not heal well with the resultant pain and limp that may last indefinitely.  The “burden” of healing is not nearly as troublesome as the burden of neglect of the injury.

Now let us turn back to the argument against forgiveness.  Let us even stay with the baseball bat incident.  Person B not only has a broken knee, but now also a broken heart from the shocking and unexpected incident.

Is it a burden to assist this person in healing the broken heart?  Should we just let the victim be?  Should we just let the victim live with the broken heart…..perhaps for the rest of the person’s life?

Do you see how this latest criticism against forgiveness is false?  Do you see how the major problem is the error in thinking by the critics and not in forgiveness itself?

When a person is morally injured, it seems to be charitable to offer healing.  Yes, healing can be challenging, but ignoring healing can be much worse.

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.

Family forgives caretaker responsible for eight-month-old daughter’s brain damage

Pretoria North Reckford Community Newspaper Group, Nelspruit, South Africa – 

“You can’t get angry, you have to forgive.” 

That is what Ryno Mulder says has enabled him to cope with the gut-wrenching turbulence he and his wife Verna have experienced over the past five weeks since their eight-month-old daughter Mienke stopped breathing when she choked on a bottle.

Mienke was being fed in her caregiver’s arms when the girl started turning blue from lack of oxygen and lost consciousness. She was resuscitated at a nearby hospital before being airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital where she has been since the incident on August 25. 

MRI scans show that Mienke has suffered severe brain damage and is believed to be blind. Her doctors fear that she will be unable to walk or talk. On Monday (Sept. 18) a feeding tube was inserted in her stomach.

“No parent should go through this; I would not wish this on anyone,” Ryno said. “We are still going through a roller coaster of emotions and everyone’s support has been helpful.”

The Mulder family – Verna and Ryno with children (from left) Zamoné, Leané, and Mienke.

More than 26,000 people are following Mienke’s progress on the “Please Pray for Mienke” Facebook group that Verna and Ryno have set up. Hundreds have also donated funds to help with ongoing medical and rehab costs. To assure those donors that their funds will be spent solely on the little bundle who has crawled so deep into people’s hearts, Ryno said a Mienke Mulder Trust Fund has been established at Standard Bank which has offices in 20 countries on the African continent. 

Because he didn’t want her to be blamed or criticized, Ryno would not reveal the name of either Mienke’s caregiver or the creche (day nursery) where the incident happened. “You can’t get angry, you have to forgive,” he repeated. 

On Wednesday of last week, Mienke opened her eyes for the first time since choking on the bottle, giving the entire Mulder family hope and a reason to stay positive.

Read more about Mienke and her family in these Lowvelder Media (South Africa) articles:

What Is Meant by “Forgiveness and Justice Occur Together”?

In many of my writings, I make the point that when you forgive, you also should seek justice from the one who hurt you.  As an example, if someone continually verbally abuses you, it is good to ask that person to stop the abuse.

One person recently asked me if he now must—-must—-seek justice even if it is not expedient or helpful to do so.  As an example, suppose you have a boss who is annoying but not abusive.  Suppose further that your pointing out the annoyances will harm your position in the company.  Are you morally obligated to seek justice as you forgive?  No.  As with your choice to forgive or not, it is your choice whether or not to seek justice.

We need to keep a balance here.  There is no rule that says when you forgive you must not seek justice.  There is no rule that says when you forgive you must seek justice.

Instead, use your wisdom and sense of fairness as you ask yourself: Should I be seeking justice in this particular case?

If seeking justice is the reasonable option, it may be best first to forgive so that you do not approach with deep anger the person from whom you will be asking fairness.

Robert

Holding on to an old grudge? Here’s help!

Are you are still holding on to a grudge, whether from yesterday or years ago? Are you still beating yourself up for some bad decision(s) you made in the past? 

“If so, find compassion and forgiveness in your heart (it’s actually in your brain) and you will be healthier and happier.”

That’s the advice of 90-year-old Dr. Natasha Josefowitz, an internationally-known author and consultant who has spent her life educating herself and others.

“This issue (holding on to past hurts) can impact our own health,” Dr. Josefowitz wrote in a recent HUFFPOST article. “We know that anger is stressful, and stress releases cortisol which narrows our arteries, which in turn can cause heart problems.”


Behind every destructive behavior is some unresolved pain that is then acted out.     Dr. Natasha Josefowitz,


“It is only when we can feel compassion that we can forgive,” Dr. Josefowitz adds. “Studies have confirmed that forgiving increases optimism and elevates mood whereas lack of it correlates with depression and anxiety. Forgiveness even increases blood flow to the heart.”

Read more:
– How to let go if you are you still holding on to an old grudge, HUFFPOST, Sept. 11, 2017.
– How to Forgive; the Four Phases of Forgiveness, International Forgiveness Institute website.
Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, Dr. Robert Enright.