In some of your books you say that Aristotle is the foundation for your work on forgiveness. Why bother with some old white guy when there are so many people who have discussed moral issues?

So, are you saying that age and skin color should be the primary basis for embracing ideas? Tell me, which other author has defined the concept of moral virtue as or more complexly than Aristotle? He tells that all moral virtues, and that would include what he calls magnanimity of heart (which would include forgiveness), is characterized by at least 7 characteristics: 1) It concerns the good toward others; 2) people are motivated to do the good (affective dimension); 3) people know it is good (the cognitive dimension); 4) the insight translates into behavior that is consistent with the motivation and the cognitive insight (the behavioral dimension); 5) people can strive for perfection of the virtue, but do not reach perfection; 6) there are individual differences among people in the understanding and expression of the virtue; and 7) people strive for consistency in how they express the virtue. Further, he challenges us to see the universal characteristics of each moral virtue (it’s essence) as we express the virtue differently across situations and cultures (it’s existence). And still further, he tells us that each moral virtue has a formal cause (what it is in its essence) and a final cause (each virtue points to certain outcomes). Who is more complete than this? Do you still think these are arbitrary thoughts by “some old white guy”? If so, produce another thinker who is deeper.

For additional information, see Why Forgiveness Is Not Only a Psychological Construct.

Is it possible for someone to actually improve in forgiveness? If so what do you suggest as some keys for me to do that?

Forgiveness is not a superficial action (such as saying, “It’s ok” when someone is unfair to you). Instead, it is a moral virtue, as is justice and kindness and love. Aristotle told us over 3,500 years ago that one challenge in life is to become more perfected in the virtues. In other words, we do grow more proficient in our understanding and expression of the virtues, but only if we practice them. It is a struggle to grow in any virtue, including forgiveness. So, first be aware that you can grow in this virtue. Then be willing to practice it, with the goal of maturing in love, which is what forgiveness is (loving those who are unkind to us). You need a strong will to keep persevering in the struggle to grow in forgiveness. In sum, you need: understanding of what forgiveness is, practice, a strong will, and keeping your eye fixed on the goal of improving in love a little more each day.

For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.