a quarter-century of studying the moral virtue of forgiveness, Dr. Enright has become convinced that forgiveness is the missing piece to the peace puzzle. Over a dozen social scientific studies conducted in his lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrate that as people forgive, they become less angry, depressed, and anxious, and more hopeful of their future. In other words, people become more peaceful within themselves, making the possibility of peace with others more likely. Read Dr. Enright’s latest tract: Forgiveness As The Path To Peace.
If a person is to become proficient in the exercise of this virtue, then he or she needs a good deal of practice expressing it. Starting in childhood may be the best approach since this allows for the most practice. It is our contention that if we can educate a majority of students in a community in the fine art of forgiving, then that community is likely to become more peaceful in the decades to come as the children enter adulthood and apply forgiveness to family, work, and other community contexts. This concept and our approach to carrying it out are outlined in our White Paper titled “Renewing Communities.”
To put our concept into action, we have developed a Forgiveness Education Program that includes comprehensive curriculum guides for use by teachers of Pre-kindergarten through 11th grade students (with the 12th grade curriculum guides under development). We initiated the program in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10 years ago and in the central city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, seven years ago because both communities have poverty and violence challenges. That program, which has grown to reach more than 25,000 students in many Wisconsin communities, 17 US states, and 30 countries around the world, is outlined in the Forgiveness Education section of this website.
Read a letter from the United Nations inviting the IFI to work with them to implement forgiveness programs in troubled regions around the world. Support our peace efforts in Belfast, Northern Ireland with a donation and become a “Healing Hearts Hero.”
Forgiveness education as one path toward peace is catching on worldwide, as seen in the recent requests for our educational materials from educators and psychologists in such areas as Iran, Rwanda, Colombia, Nigeria, Korea, Israel, Slovakia, and others. It is also reflected in the outpouring of positive response to our June 16, 2010 blog post featured in The Huffington Post entitled “The Science of Forgiveness.” Written by Dr. Enright and Roy Lloyd (President of the IFI Board of Directors), that article succinctly outlines the IFI’s contention that scientifically-proven forgiveness education can indeed be a path to world peace.