Archive for August, 2013
“When people withdraw love from us, we might development resentment. After all, we do not deserve unfair treatment and we do require love, not from all but at least from some. Resentment occurs when anger not only comes to visit, but sits down in our hearts, takes off its stinky shoes, and makes itself too much at-home in our hearts. After awhile, we do not know how to ask it to leave. While some anger might be good, persistent and intensive anger that is resentment is not healthy. It can distort in the short-run how we think (as we dwell on the negative), what we think (as we have specific condemning thoughts), and how we act (reducing our will to act in a morally good way).”
Excerpt (Chapter 1) from the book, The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love, by Dr. Robert Enright, Ph.D.
Isn’t it possible that if I keep forgiving the person who is insensitive to me, then he eventually realizes that he has nothing to lose in being insensitive? How can I forgive so that he does not take advantage of me like this?
Forgiveness is not an excuse to be weak when it comes to justice. As you forgive and reduce your anger, try to exercise justice from that context. In other words, with reduced anger, ask what is fair. If you do not forgive and then forge ahead with a quest for justice, you might ask for too much because of your anger. In other words, when you forgive you may end up with an even better quest for justice than would have been the case without forgiveness.
The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA – Over a 100-day period beginning on April 6, 1994, nearly 1 million Rwandan Tutsis lost their lives at the hands of their fellow Rwandans, the Hutus. Prior to the outbreak of that genocide, Jean Paul Samputu, a Tutsi and at the time a rising star on the East African music scene, spent six months in jail, along with thousands of other Tutsis who had been arrested at their homes.
When he was released from jail, his father urged him to flee the country. While Jean Paul escaped to neighboring Burundi and Uganda, the elder Samputu stayed behind in his village. In the nightmare of genocidal rage that followed, Jean Paul lost his father, mother, three brothers, and a sister.
Struggling with grief, anger, and desperation, Samputu slid into drinking and drugs, causing his career, his health, and his private life to spiral downward.
In 2003, Samputu found himself on Prayer Mountain, a real place in Uganda. There, he says, God showed him that he needed to forgive. “That’s when I said yes to God. I can forgive,” Samputu recalls. “I got a great peace in my heart.” He also vowed that he would take his message of forgiveness all over the world.
Returning to his native village, Samputu found and forgave the former neighbor who had killed his father. Despite the irrationality of it all, the two men worked together over the next few years to bring their message of forgiveness to all of Rwanda.
“Forgiveness is for you, not the offender. Forgiveness is the only thing that can stop the cycle of violence, the culture of revenge,” Samputu says. “If we don’t want another genocide, our children must learn this message.”
Samputu also returned to his music and his career took off. He won the Kora Award (the African Grammy) for Most Promising African Male Artist. Three years later, in 2006, he won First Place for World Music in the International Songwriting Competition. And in 2007, he was recognized as an “ambassador of peace” by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.
Today, Samputu, who sings in six languages, has established himself as one of the most prominent African artists on the world stage. He is an international ambassador for peace, speaking at the UN and at universities throughout Japan, Canada, the US, and Germany. His nonprofit group, The Mizero Foundation, focuses on teaching gender equality and the empowerment of women.
He also formed a music and dance group called Mizero Children of Rwanda. These 15 children, all orphaned by the genocide, traveled with him throughout Africa, Canada, and the United States, singing, dancing, and delivering a message of forgiveness.
Read the full story: “Jean Paul Samputu practices forgiveness even for his father’s killer.”
“I hope you are beginning to see that forgiveness is not only something you do, nor is it just a feeling or a thought inside you. It pervades your very being. Forgiveness, in other words, might become a part of your identity, a part of who you are as a person. Try this thought on for size to see if it fits: I am a forgiving person. Did that hurt or feel strange? Try it again. Of course, to say something like this and then to live your life this way will take plenty of practice. Part of that practice is to get to know the entire process of forgiveness.”
Excerpt (page 79) from the book, The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love, by Dr. Robert Enright, Ph.D.
The one I am having the toughest time forgiving is myself. I have done some stuff that is not so great. I have a hard time letting myself off the hook. Any suggestions?
First, let us realize that when we forgive other people who have hurt us, we are exercising the moral virtue of love. We are loving that person, as best we can, not because of what was done, but in spite of that. Try forgiving others first, even if the hurt you experienced is not strong. I want you to get used to offering love to those who have been unfair.
Once you have done that, then consider practicing loving yourself, not because of what you have done, but in spite of that. This does not “let you off the hook,” as they say. If your actions have offended others and not just yourself, then go to those others and ask for forgiveness; make amends. You might begin to find that you can now forgive yourself by unconditionally loving yourself as you have learned to love others.