Archive for August, 2012

Sometimes my adolescent son and I argue just like my own father and I used to argue. It is kind of odd to see this reproduced across the generations. In your book, The Forgiving Life, you talk about this and recommend that we forgive people from our past who may be influencing our present. My question is this: How do I help my son to forgive his grandfather for what he inflicted on me without betraying a confidence and without hurting my son’s image of his grandfather?

The intergenerational pattern of forgiveness can get complex, as you are seeing. The good news here is that your son need not forgive his grandfather for what he inflicted on you. You need to forgive your father for this. You son should forgive his grandfather for what the grandfather did to your son. So, you can keep the issues of injustice private between your father and you without necessarily sharing the specifics with your son.

I do recommend that you point out the pattern of anger between the generations. This will help your son to see that you and he have learned a pattern of behavior that needs to be broken or else he and his children are likely to continue the unwanted pattern.

Please try to point out the intergenerational pattern of anger to your son in as non-judgmental a manner as possible. In other words, first forgive your father and then discuss the patterns with your son. In this way you are less likely to even subtly condemn your own father as you discuss the anger pattern with your son.

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Can the Essence of Forgiveness Ever Be Altered?

Suppose that over time, a culture began to see forgiveness as simply moving on with a sense of tolerance. Have the people in that culture then changed what forgiveness is? After all, the current thinking in psychology and philosophy is that forgiveness is a moral virtue of goodness toward those who have been unjust.

I think it is impossible to alter the essence of forgiveness, no matter what happens in a particular culture or in a particular historical moment. We could, I suppose, see forgiveness as a relative concept, flexible in its meaning depending on the consensus of a group at a certain point in time, but that would be to invite error.

Here is what I mean: To label forgiveness as “moving on with a sense of tolerance” will mean that forgiveness is now equated with other terms, such as acquiescence and, as part of this definition, tolerance. Yet, forgiveness never gives in or acquiesces to wrong doing, but instead labels the wrong as wrong. Forgiveness never tolerates injustice but instead labels the injustice as unjust.

When it appears that a given group is defining forgiveness in an odd way, ask yourself this question: What else might this definition represent other than forgiveness? If you come up with a sound answer, then I urge you to stand firm in the truth of what forgiveness is, despite protests and even ad hominem attacks on you as a person.

Forgiveness is what it has been, what it is currently, and what it will be long after each one of us reading this post is gone from this world.


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How Forgiving Are You?

News item that could make a difference in your life: Did you know that Dr. Enright’s newly released book, The Forgiving Life, is being produced in conjunction with a major publisher of psychological scales and tests called Mind Garden? Mind Garden has set up on their website three forgiveness scales that are discussed in the book, The Forgiving Life. You can go on-line to and fill out the forgiveness scales. Mind Garden then does all the work to score your responses and to let you know how forgiving or unforgiving you are toward any particular person. Mind Garden can then chart your progress in forgiving after you have worked through the process of forgiveness in the book.

Mind Garden is an independent publisher of psychological assessments and instruments. The company’s goal is to “preserve and grow” important psychological assessments. In the quest to grow the health of the human psyche, it facilitates feedback and self understanding.

Mind Garden serves members of the academic, research, and consulting communities by offering high quality, proven instruments from prominent professionals. Mind Garden has partnered with Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, to create a series of scales related his latest book The Forgiving Life. Jump to Mind Garden.

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Pauline Gichuri

Today, I finally made the final step to forgive everyone who ever offended me, including damaging my life.

Its been 2 years since i was injured by a very close friend. My life turned upside down, i suffered and lost 90% of my life as I previously knew it. I prayed and verbally forgave the lady about 2yrs ago. But over the years i found myself talking about it with so much resentment, deep down my heart i wished the worst for her. I blamed everything wrong on her, and constantly accused her. But after some time i would verbally declare that I forgave her again.

This has been going on for 2 years. But today, i learned something new and valuable to my life. Forgiveness is a process that should be deep rooted. I went through the steps on this site and it was very very helpful. Dear readers, it doesn’t matter what the injury or outcome of the offender has on you, forgive them truly and you will start to enjoy the fruits of a pure heart. I would never find the words to describe what i went through with my offender, I was physically and spiritually attacked in so many ways.

But today I truly forgive her and wish her peace and happiness. I understand by doing so truly, it will be my first step to healing and happiness both physically and spiritually. Its my greatest prayer that the Almighty God will grant me this request. I congratulate everyone who decided to follow this wonderful steps towards forgiveness.

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Forgiveness and Understanding at Oak Creek Sikh Vigil

The – People from the Sikh community along with neighbors and community members gathered in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on August 7 to reflect on the violence that befell this community on Sunday. Many expressed forgiveness for the man who killed six worshippers at the Sikh Temple. The police chief of the town said this: “In 28 years of law enforcement, I have seen a lot of hate. I have seen a lot of revenge. I’ve seen a lot of anger. What I saw, particularly from the Sikh community this week was compassion, concern, support.”

One of the community members who attended the vigil, Teri Pelzek, said she had barely heard of Sikhs. “I knew nothing about them at all. I don’t think a lot of people did. When we don’t know about somebody’s religion we assume the worst.”

Ms. Pelzek said that in a country so often unforgiving and vengeful it was startling to see the Sikh response to the tragedy. “It surprised everyone when they were victims of someone so full of hatred. Because of their reaction, saying they’d like to forgive and move on, I think that’s quite the attitude to hear after what just happened,” she said.

Read more.

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