Archive for January, 2014
I was reflecting on all of the disorder within schools during 2013. It has been reported that there were 30 shootings at schools in the United States in this one year period. Think about that for a moment. The context of the shootings centers on innocent children, adolescents, and young adults (at universities) who are unarmed and innocent.
How many family break-ups were there in 2013 or acts of bullying that cut deeply into the very being of those bullied?
Forgiveness is a profound response to disorder. What do you think? Do you think any of those school shootings would have happened if the men responsible for the mayhem had practiced forgiveness and rightly ordered their emotions from rage to calm?
What do you think? Do you think all of the family break-ups would have happened if both sides of the conflict practiced forgiveness? And perhaps the forgiveness needed to be toward people from years before because our left-over anger from childhood can follow us into adulthood and strike the innocent.
Forgiveness likely could have averted some of those break-ups if forgiveness toward each other in the present and toward parents from the past had been practiced. Forgiveness could have restored order……..and prevented disorder.
The same theme applies to bullying. If those who bully could only forgive those who have abused them, would the bullying continue or would the behavior become more orderly, more civil?
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for restoring order within an injured self, within relationships, and within and between communities. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for preventing disorder.
What do you think? Do you think that forgiveness could save our planet from destruction by enraged people with the weaponry to destroy? Forgiveness is about order, protection, wholeness, and love.
It is time for individuals and communities to see this and to have the courage to bring forgiveness into the light….to restore and then enhance order while it prevents the destruction of disorder.
There are a lot of shows on television that use the expression of anger as entertainment (Jerry Springer, as one example). Do you think the demonstrations of anger on such shows has an effect on the rest of us, on how we think about and deal with our anger?
For those who watch these shows, yes, I do think that anger expression can become more frequent and more intense. Research on the effects of modeling (observing and then imitating others) shows that people tend to imitate that which they see in others, particularly those whom they admire. So, please guard what you watch.
Amarillo Globe News, Amarillo, Texas – Before a District Judge sentenced a 22-year-old man to life in prison without parole for killing an 84-year-old woman and assaulting her developmentally disabled daughter, the woman’s adult children addressed the court to talk of forgiveness and faith.
Imogene Wilmoth Harris, who died of blunt force trauma on Aug. 14, 2011, was described by her family as a giving woman who taught Bible study and worked with stroke victims to help them regain their speech. The man who killed her, Esequiel Gomez Jr., was eventually captured and pled guilty to capital murder in a plea agreement that spared him from Death Row.
“The bottom line is this, Mr. Gomez: I have forgiven you,” said Harris’ daughter Shelley Fields. “I have forgiven you for murdering my mother and raping my little sister, but I will never forget what you took from us that night.”
Another daughter, Holly Chester, also told Gomez she forgave him while the victim’s eldest daughter, Peggy Guthrie, said, “God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others.”
Read the full story: “Tulia family speaks of forgiveness, punishment during killer’s sentencing.”
Timing is amazing sometimes. We posted a blog essay yesterday (just below this one) on three reasons why quick forgiveness is not necessarily “phony forgiveness” and we then came across this story: “Parents no longer forgive shooter of teen.”
Apparently, parents of a slain youth retracted their forgiveness toward the man who shot him.
We would like to claim that their first overture of forgiveness seems very sincere based on the news story. We have to remember our second point in the earlier blog post: psychological defenses are sometimes strong when tragedy strikes. As they lessen, anger rises. Now the deep work of forgiveness might begin….in time. And one more point: Even a retraction of forgiveness is not necessarily a final word on the matter.
An observant reader asked me recently if our Forgiveness News section might be comprised of many stories in which people are “faking forgiveness” so that they get national and international recognition from the media. After all, the person reasoned, for a few moments their images, words, and actions are in front of thousands or even millions, depending on which media sources carry the story.
While quick pronouncements of forgiveness might lead some to doubt the sincerity of the act, we have three counter-arguments in the debate.
1) We must realize that some people are “forgivingly fit,” in that they practice forgiveness regularly in the smaller injustices of life. Such practice readies them for when the tragic injustices come. In other words, years of practice accumulate and aid the forgiver now in the new, gargantuan challenge to forgive, say, the murderer of a loved one. As we watch the person forgive, we do not see the years of practice underlying the act and so we wonder about the sincerity, which is very real because of the practice.
2) Sometimes, our psychological defenses come to our aid when tragedy strikes. These defenses shield us from the intense anger which could emerge now. Yet, after a while, as the defenses begin to weaken, the anger arises afresh and so the initial pronouncement of forgiveness, when the angers subside, is not the final word on the matter. In other words, there still is forgiveness work to do, and this is not dishonorable. Forgiveness is hard work and requires re-visiting from time to time regarding situations we thought we had long-ago forgiven.
3) For reasons that are unclear to the social scientific community, some people, despite not having practiced forgiveness over and over, do forgive seemingly spontaneously. Their psychological defenses are not masking deep anger. They forgive in a thorough way on the first try. This seems rare, but it does happen.
Phony forgiveness? No, not necessarily. What might appear on the surface as phony could be heroic forgiveness forged in the daily struggle to overcome the effects of injustice.