Archive for May, 2012

Wounds and Love

In my years of talking with people about forgiveness, I have come to realize something important about the process: Wounded people are the ones who most often wound other people. Person A wounds Person B who wounds Person C. Person C is unaware that the wounds suffered by Person A are now descending on her.

Woundedness has a way of living on from person to person, not unlike how a virus continues to live, by finding a new host. The woundedness can go on for many years across many generations.

In my years of talking with people about forgiveness, I have come to realize something important about the process: Loving people are the ones who have been loved. Person A loves Person B who….you know the pattern.

We wound because we were first wounded.

We love because we were first loved.

We forgive because we were first wounded and loved.

We need to bring more love to people so that we can combat the woundedness with forgiveness.

In my years of talking with people about forgiveness, I have come to realize something important about the process: It is easier to pass on woundedness than love; woundedness than forgiveness.

Love can die in one generation if calamity descends. This is why we must be so vigilant about love and forgiveness. They are more fragile than our wounds.


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I sometimes just don’t feel like forgiving. What do you suggest when I feel so “blah” about forgiving?

Forgiveness includes our feelings, but it includes so much more than that. As a moral virtue, it includes all that the other moral virtues, such as justice and patience and kindness, include: one’s will to engage in the virtue, one’s thoughts, and how one behaves.

When your feelings are “blah,” please focus on your will to forgive. Your will usually is stronger than your feelings. Also, try to focus on your thoughts (“I forgive Person A for…..”). Try to cultivate thoughts of the inherent worth of the other person, seeing him or her as worthwhile, not because of what was done to you, but in spite of this. Finally, try to behave in a forgiving way even if you do not feel like it. A smile or a kind word to the person is a step in the forgiving direction.

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Victim Forgives War Criminal, Charles Taylor

Washington Post. In April, the Hague convicted former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, of war crimes. Samuel Konkofa Koroma, who was directly impacted by a 10-year war in Sierra Leone fueled by Taylor, tells his story of suffering, his rescue from certain death by a former student, and his ultimate decision to forgive.

Finding forgiveness after Charles Taylor
By Samuel Konkofa Koroma,

Samuel Konkofa Koroma has led peace-building projects in Africa for the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps.

Last month a court in The Hague found former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in fueling a 10-year, bloody conflict in Sierra Leone. The verdict capped a trial that itself had dragged on for years and had been punctuated by moments of sensationalism, such as Wikileaks revelations and the testimonies of supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Mia Farrow.

With all of this spectacle, it can be easy to forget what the trial was really about: thousands of people like me, and the forgiveness that makes life bearable.

I’m from Sierra Leone, the country whose conflict Taylor was convicted of helping to finance. My life has taken me to Europe and to Uganda, but I’ve never forgotten my home: an impoverished, remote village.

Read the full story here.

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Corrie Ten Boom

Have you ever heard of Corrie Ten Boom? She wrote the book, The Hiding Place. She lived through a concentration camp even though many in her family did not. She was abused and left with mourning and scars.

Yet, she found a way to forgive. She expressed this in a lecture one night in Germany. Although she was unaware of it, the SS office who abused her years ago was in the audience.

After the lecture, as people gathered around Corrie, the SS officer waited in line, then extended his hand, and asked her to forgive him. Shocked, confused, and not knowing what to do, she forgave.

How could she forgive so quickly? From her narrative in the book, it all sounds perfectly legitimate to me. She felt a love for him, she says in the book.

How is this possible? I will not provide the answer. I would like you to research it for yourself and then see how that pertains to your life.


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Why Older People Are More Apt to Forgive

Mental Health News Organization – People become happier as they get older, according to recent research. Happiness significantly rises for the over 50-crowd, and while physical health may decrease as people get older, mental well-being increases, something researchers attribute to the lowered personal and professional expectations older people place on themselves.

Something else that comes with old age: an increased capacity to forgive others. It’s easier for older adults to forgive than it is for younger adults.

A recent study set out to examine the reason behind this positive relationship between age and forgiveness. Researchers hypothesized that the two personality traits of agreeableness and neuroticism (the degree of negativity in a person’s response to life situations) explain age differences in tendencies to forgive.

The study looked at individuals who ranged in age from 19-84 years and found that older adults showed higher levels of agreeableness and lower levels of neuroticism than younger adults. How does this relate to forgiveness? More agreeable people are more forgiving than less agreeable ones, and more neurotic individuals are less forgiving than less neurotic ones. Consequently, older people are more apt to forgive. Read the full story.

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