Archive for April, 2013
I perused Wikipedia today for information on “survival kits.” Here are a few tidbits: salt (yup, it prevents death in case of cholera), laser pointer (for superior long-range signaling), large plastic trash bag (as a poncho), ladder (ladder, oh, sorry, this one is only for lifeboats).
Missing completely was one essential: Forgiveness.
As the world produces more injustice, we need a survival response to this. Forgiveness may be it. Forgive and live.
You talk about “forgiving communities.” What are some of the dangers in introducing such communities too soon in the home?
Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, it is not a dangerous idea or action. ??What is dangerous is the all-too-human trappings surrounding forgiveness. Some of these dangers include: 1) forcing children to forgive rather than helping them to be drawn in love to it; 2) misunderstanding forgiveness as reconciliation so that children are not protected as they think they have to re-enter unhealthy interactions, such as with those who bully them; 3) so over-emphasizing forgiveness that children put aside the quest for justice; and 4) introducing forgiveness-as-a-forgiving community out of grim obligation so that children see your frustration with the idea of forgiveness.
If you avoid these traps and approach forgiveness with a loving heart, the family should benefit. ??We recommend what we call “The Family Forgiveness Gathering” in which you discuss (once a week for about 15 minutes) the themes of hurt and mercy which occurred that week for each person (who wishes to share this).
Do you know the film, Independence Day, from 1996? One of the characters, an alcoholic crop-duster, Russell Casse, played by Randy Quaid, kept insisting that he was abducted by aliens. No one was buying it. Once the aliens landed, he had his day by saying, “What did I tell you?” (Quoted from memory).
It is now our turn. No, we have not been abducted by aliens, but we have been speculating within our institute about Adam Lanza, the tragic figure who turned his own fury onto innocent children in a Connecticut school on December 14, 2012. We have been saying to each other that he himself in all likelihood was a victim of severe bullying.
A recent article in the New York Daily News (April 13, 2013) by Matthew Lysiak and Larry McShane supports the view that Mr. Lanza was a victim of bullying. According to this article not only was Mr. Lanza taunted but also beaten by fellow students when he attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. A relative of Mr. Lanza, who wished for anonymity in that article, gave this evidence of bullying: “Adam would come home with bruises all over his body,” the relative said. “His mom would ask him what was wrong, and he wouldn’t say anything. He would just sit there.” The mother considered suing the school because of this abuse that she suspected.
The one bullied transformed into the one who bullies, and even worse, into the one who kills.
For a moment, let us presume even with this news story that the accusations of bullying toward Adam Lanza are incorrect. Even so, there are thousands of children as I write this being bullied and bullied very abusively in schools.
How many of them will transform into the one who bullies?
We have to do something to protect the victims, yes, but what is rarely emphasized is this: We must find a way to quell the fury within those who bully. Their fury is what is abusing and in some cases contributing to the death of other students.
What did I tell you? We are suggesting this to the world: We strongly urge all school districts in the United States and abroad to develop comprehensive psychological programs to reduce the rage in those who bully. One source for school psychologists, counselors, and social workers is the Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Education Program available in the store section of this website. This curriculum targets the anger within those who bully.
It is time to quell the fury within—-for the sake of the next victim and for the sake of those who harbor the fury. We have the resources. Now let us all pull together and do our part not to let anger have its insistent upper hand. Let us start today and achieve Independence Day for those who bully—-independence from the binding torture of their own anger.
Mid-West Family Broadcasting, headed by Thomas Walker, has quietly stayed in the shadows, supporting the International Forgiveness Institute since 1990–for a generation. Readers, please note well that many philanthropists have a pattern of funding non-profit organizations for a few years and then moving on. This did not happen between Mid-West Family and IFI.
In 1990, I received a letter (email was not “on a roll” then as it is now) from William Walker, Thomas’ father. He told me that years ago he received a doctoral degree from my own department at the university. He said he now would like to give back to the social sciences and that he had the resources to put the psychology of forgiveness on the map.
Up to that point, the science of forgiveness was in its infancy. The very first scientific article on person-to-person forgiving was published by our
group in 1989. (There had been a handful of studies on apology up to that point, but no science published on the issue of forgiving between and among people). William had a plan to advance the thinking in this area. With his help, we developed the first psychological instrument to measure person-to-person forgiveness ever published. We devised strategies to map out the process of forgiveness and tested these. One example of the fruit of William Walker’s philanthropy is a study of helping people in residential drug rehabilitation to forgive and thus to become emotionally healthier.
Under the care of Thomas Walker, the IFI has quietly built the most comprehensive set of curricular materials for teaching forgiveness in the world. The forgiveness curriculum guides have made their way to schools on every continent now. We at the IFI are personally shepherding the growth of forgiveness education in Madison, Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s central-city, Belfast, Northern Ireland and Liberia, Africa. We are making inroads in other war-torn and contentious regions of the world. We are doing so because of Mid-West Family Broadcasting.
Mid-West Family Broadcasting runs the following stations in Madison, Wisconsin: WJJO | WMGN | WJQM | WWQM | WMLV | WHIT | WOZN. They are in four other midwest markets as well.
We take the time here to acknowledge the mercy of Mid-West Family Broadcasting and the Walker family. You are making the world a more merciful place, a more forgiving place, because of your mercy. Thank you.
Natural Awakenings, Naples, FL – Dr. Robert Enright’s Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program is one of two anti-bullying programs featured in the February issue of Natural Awakenings, a publication that has more than 3 million readers in 82 US markets. According to Sharon Bruckman, founder of the 20-year-old magazine, “Our job is to keep our finger on the pulse of advancing thought in order to keep everyone apprised of the best healthy-life choices available to them.”
According to the Natural Awakenings article, most school anti-bullying programs focus on the prevention of unwanted behaviors. But Dr. Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, has developed a uniquely different approach.
“Because those that engage in bullying are often filled with rage from having been bullied themselves, they get to a point that they don’t care about the consequences of their actions, including detention,” Dr. Enright says. “Our program is meant to take the anger out of the heart of those that bully, so they bully no more.”
The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fears of being attacked or intimidated by other students.
That Natural Awakenings article resulted in WZZM13 ABC TV in Grand Rapids, MI inviting Dr. Matthew Clark to be a guest on the 9 am talk show called Take Five & Company. Dr. Clark, Psy.D., runs The Clark Institute–Private Practice Psychotherapy for Children, Adolescents, and Adults in Grand Rapids. During that 4-minute TV segment, which you can watch at Positive Ways to Promote Kindness in Children,” Dr. Clark mentions the IFI, suggests viewers go to the IFI website, and gives the IFI web address.