Archive for April, 2012

Erika – EMP

Hello Every One,

I was encouraged by Professor Robert Enright to share my story here… At full length you can read about it in my debut book, It Is Forgiven by EMP.

“I was a bullied child. I was a rape victim. I was a battered woman. I was a betrayed daughter and goddaughter. I was a refugee. But I am a survivor. In this memoir, I share my life’s journey, my hopes, my dreams, and my darkest moments. I share the details about my upbringing in Hungary, my tormented childhood and teen years, my introduction to the man who would become my abuser, and my move to a foreign country.

It Is Forgiven 
recounts my experiences of domestic violence, emotional and sexual abuse, and years and years of betrayal. It examines how one horrific event led to another and how the abuse escalated in both frequency and violence. Even though I was a battered woman I had the courage to save myself and my two beautiful baby’s that are my life! My hope is that with my book I would inspire and encourage other women that may be facing similar circumstances and to speak out instead of suffering in silence.”

I would be honoured if you would find an interest in reading my book, which is available here. Thank you!

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The School as Forgiving Community

How can we pass forgiveness to subsequent generations? We began asking that question in our blog post The Ripple Effect on April 10, 2012. We answered in part through our post about the ‘family as a forgiving community’ (April 14, 2012). We continue here with a focus on schools as transmitters of forgiveness knowledge and practice.

Our group began forgiveness education in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2002, as a preventive approach to emotional and relational healing for people in contentious regions of the world. Our intent in the short-run is to reduce resentment, which can build up in children who are faced with continual injustices in their immediate environments. Our intent in the long-run is to equip students with such a deep knowledge and practice of forgiveness that they can and will effectively implement forgiveness in their homes, places of worship, jobs, communities, and even the wider community which includes those with whom they are experiencing conflict. It is our expectation that such deep knowledge and practice of forgiveness will go far in mending conflicts, even those which have been entrenched in communities for centuries.

We began with first grade (Primary 3 in Belfast) classrooms because from a developmental perspective it is here that children begin to think logically, in terms of causes and consequences, and simple deductions. We have the classroom teacher spend about one hour per week for about 12 weeks in teaching forgiveness through stories, such as Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who in which a kindly elephant saves an entire village of tiny Whos because, as Horton knows and constantly proclaims throughout the book, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

We decided to extend the development of the teacher guides through the end of post-primary school, a 12-year project. Perhaps the students who grow into adulthood with forgiveness as a continual companion will develop an ability to dialogue more deeply and effectively with “the other side.” Forgiveness, properly understood and practiced by some heroic adults, could change the face of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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My father abandoned mother and me when I was toddler. He come no more. Mother she work 2 maybe 3 jobs. Poverty and sickness. Finally I placed in foster care and had to work hard. Foster parents value education much. So I get high school degree. See father as very troulbed. Scared. He do not know how to be father. Make me feel sad for him. I forgive him. I feel better and hope to meet him some day. Thank you.

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Forgiving a Person vs. Being a Forgiving Person

There is a difference between forgiving a person and being a forgiving person. To forgive someone usually means to engage in a particular process that will lead to forgiving a person for a particular injustice. To be a forgiving person means that you: a) forgive particular people with a particular process for particular injustices; b) learn to practice this process frequently, whenever there is a need to forgive; c) learn to love this process of forgiving others; d) make forgiveness a part of your very identity, so that to not forgive is to seem discordant with who you are as a person; and e) realize that one purpose of your life is to give forgiveness away to others so that they, too, can begin forgiving those who have hurt them.

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How to Pass Forgiveness to the Next Generation: Forming Forgiving Communities

How can we pass forgiveness to subsequent generations?  We began asking that question in our blog post The Ripple Effect on April 10, 2012. Let us begin to explore some answers to this question through the implementation of forgiving communities.

By “forgiving community” we mean a system-wide effort to make forgiveness a conscious and deliberate part of human relations through: discussion, practice, mutual support, and the preservation of forgiveness across time in any group that wishes to cultivate and perfect this virtue (alongside justice and all other virtues). The Forgiving Community is an idea that can become a reality wherever there is a collection of individuals who wish to unite toward a common goal of fostering forgiveness, developing the necessary structures within their organization to accomplish the goal, and preserving that goal for future generations. We will consider The Family as Forgiving Community here and in a subsequent post, we will consider The School as Forgiving Community.

The central points of the Family as Forgiving Community are these:

1. We are interested in the growth of appreciation and practice in the virtue of forgiveness not only within each individual but also within the family unit itself.

2. For family members to grow in the appreciation and practice of forgiveness, that virtue must be established as a positive norm in the family unit. This necessitates that the parents value the virtue, talk positively about it, and demonstrate it through forgiving and asking for forgiveness on a regular basis within the family.

3. For each member of the family unit to grow in the appreciation and practice of forgiveness, that virtue must be taught in the home, with materials that are age-appropriate and interesting for the children and the parents.

4. Parents will need to persevere in the appreciation, practice, and education of forgiveness if the children are to develop the strength of passing the virtue of forgiveness onto their own families when they are adults.

To achieve these goals, one strategy is the Family Forgiveness Gathering.

Family Forgiveness Gathering

The parents are encouraged to create a time and place for family discussions. We recommend that the parents gather the family together at least once a week to have a quiet discussion about forgiveness. They are to keep in mind that to forgive is not the same as excusing or forgetting or even reconciling and that forgiveness works hand-in-hand with justice.

Questions for the family forgiveness meeting might include:

– What does it mean to forgive someone?
– Who was particularly kind and loving to you this week?
– What did that feel like?
– When the person was really loving toward you, what were your thoughts about the person?
– When the person was really loving, how did you behave toward that person?
– Was anyone particularly unfair or mean to you this week?
– What did it feel like when you were treated in a mean way?
– What were your thoughts?
– Did you try to forgive the person for being unfair to you?
– What does forgiveness feel like?
– What are your thoughts when you forgive?
– What are your thoughts specifically toward the one who acted unfairly to you when you forgive him or her?
– How did you behave toward the person once you forgave?
– If you have not yet forgiven, what is a first step in forgiving him or her? (Make a decision to be kind, commit to forgiving, begin in a small way to see that the person is in fact a person of worth.)

The parents are reminded that they do not have to know all the answers.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle