Archive for September, 2012
Philadelphia, The Inquirer – With less than a month before condemned murderer Terrance Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection, a broad-based group of supporters – including the widow of the man Williams killed in 1984 – urged that his life be spared for a crime committed three months after he turned 18, the minimum age for someone to be sentenced to death in the United States.
The advocacy group includes lawyers and former judges, child advocates, and religious figures but Williams’ strongest asset may be an extraordinary affidavit by his victim’s widow. Mamie Norwood, 75, describes a personal transformation from anger and resentment to forgiveness.
At first, Norwood wrote, her husband’s murder was “unbearable for me. [But] several years ago, after much prayer and self-reflection, I found the strength and courage to forgive Terry Williams.
“I do not wish to see Terry Williams executed,” Norwood wrote. “His execution would go against my Christian faith and my belief system. He is worthy of forgiveness, and I am at peace with my decision to forgive him and have been for many years. I wish to see his life spared.”
Five members of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury that condemned Williams for the murder of Amos Norwood have said they would have opted for life in prison had they heard mitigating evidence about Williams’ horrific childhood of sexual abuse by a neighbor, a teacher, and Norwood himself.
“The evidence of abuse in this case is clear,” reads a letter of support signed by 26 child advocates and experts in sexual abuse. “There can be no doubt that Terry was repeatedly and violently abused and exploited as a child and teenager by manipulative older men.
“Terry’s acts of violence have, alas, an explanation of the worst sort: enveloped by anger and self-hatred, Terry lashed out and killed two of the men who sexually abused him and caused him so much pain.”
A 14-year-old Georgia girl contemplated suicide because of the intensive and persistent bullying she received at school. Her ears were different. It was enough to lead to bullying and to profound abuse of this innocent victim. ABC News reported on this bullied teen story.
The girl qualified for plastic surgery from a foundation that helps children with birth defects. The cost? About $40,000, and it did give her a new image. It did give her more confidence. The bullying is likely to stop. She has forgiven….it seems with some residual anger, but that is understandable because forgiveness takes time.
We at the International Forgiveness Institute surely do not oppose the plastic surgery as one solution to a horrendous bullying problem, but we would like to take this time to proclaim—as loudly and as persistently across the globe as we can—this message: “The primary solution to the bullying is to get to the heart of the anger inside those who bully.” Most of those who bully have been bullied, and not necessarily in school as the first experience.
Consider an analogy. Suppose we are in the film, The Time Machine, in which the Morlocks are continually bullying the more gentle Eloi. The Morlocks kidnap some of the Eloi at random and cannibalize them. What if our first line of defense was to go into the cave, find the captured Eloi, and release them? While this is well and good, it misses this critical point: We have not gotten to the heart of this problem, which is the hearts of the Morlocks who see the Eloi as fresh meat. We have to change the hearts of the Morlocks so that they see the Eloi, not as fresh meat, but as precious persons, special, unique, and irreplaceable. And this takes time….lots of time…. to change hearts in this way. It takes practice in forgiving those who have abused them so that they begin to “see with new eyes” the true humanity in others, all others, even those who are now seen as fresh meat.
We at the International Forgiveness Institute have a curriculum to help those who are angry, who are abusive, who see others as fresh meat. It is a new Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Curriculum available in our store. This 8-lesson program is intended to focus on the anger inside of the one who bullies, to understand that anger, fix it through forgiveness, and then use these insights to encourage those who bully to now use this surgery-of-their-angry-hearts for good in the world, specifically toward those on whom they have been displacing their toxic anger.
Plastic surgery? OK. Surgery of the angry heart? Yes, without question…and the sooner the better in every school in the world.
Honolulu, HawiiNewsNow.com – A California mother who’s 16-year-old daughter was killed in a jet ski collision is offering forgiveness to the Australian tourist who slammed into her daughter’s jet ski last month.
The teenager died of a brain injury a day after the collision. Her grieving mother said she has forgiven the 20-year-old Australian for causing her family so much pain.
“Because that’s the kind of daughter my daughter was, a very forgiving child and so I know that’s something she would want me to do,” said a tearful Evangelina Canton.
Tyson Dagley, 20, will be sentenced for negligent homicide on Wednesday as Kristen Fonseca’s family struggles to move on.
“I cry in the morning. I cry before I go to sleep. I cry randomly during the day,” said Fonseca’s mother, Evangelina Canton.
Canton’s heart is aching. Fonseca, 16, was riding a rented jet ski last month during a family vacation. The young visitor from Vacaville, Calif. had slowed down her Yamaha WaveRunner, but behind her, Dagley wasn’t looking ahead.
I was talking yesterday to a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is starting a study on the psychology of forgiveness. She asked people about their experiences in forgiving, especially for serious offenses.
Her interviews led to this conclusion: The hardest person to forgive usually is oneself. Why is that?
It seems to me that we are a lot harder on ourselves than we are on other people, even those who behave very unjustly. We hold ourselves to a much higher standard.
So, here are some helpful forgiveness hints for you if you are trying or in the future are in a position to forgive yourself.
First, try forgiving someone other than yourself. The point here is to try to get a sense of the the process of forgiveness. Once you have forgiven another, ask yourself these questions:
Have I seen this other person as someone of worth?
Do I have a softened heart, at least to a degree, for this person?
Have I tried to bear the pain of what happened so that I do not take it out on that person or others?
Now, turn this learning toward yourself and try to:
- see yourself as possessing worth
- soften your heart toward yourself, just as you did for the other person
- bear the pain of what you did so that you do not keep beating yourself up over it.
Then add the following:
If you have offended anyone else by your actions, go to him or her and apologize. Seek forgiveness. Make things right.
If you are a person of faith, see what your next step is in the bigger picture.
Resolve to change your ways…..and then go in peace.
Thank you for the question. We have addressed a similar issue already on May 10, 2012. Your question, however, has given us the opportunity to clarify one issue. We actually do not forgive “things” or “offenses.” We forgive people and only people. So, we forgive people for “things” they do or “offenses” they commit. No person in the world has done something so bad that another person cannot forgive him or her. Some will choose not to forgive, but this does not mean that others could not or will not forgive him or her.