Archive for March, 2014

Why Forgiveness Education Matters

Do you see that 6-year-old over there?  He lives with his mother.  His father abandoned the family two years ago.  His mother does not know it, but deep down in his heart, he is saying this about himself, “I’m not much.  Dad left me and if I was more than ‘not much,’ he would still be here.”

As he grows to adolescence, this young man deepens his conviction that he is “not much” and now even believes that most people walking around on this planet are “not much.”  Deep down in his heart, he is saying this about others, “There is too much hurt in this world.  People are just mean.  They are out for themselves.  Even forgiveness is just an insincere move to keep a false peace….while we all walk around saying ‘no one is much.’”

Students-TeacherHow many children are heading toward this same set of conclusions about oneself and others?  Too many.

Forgiveness education helps young children, as young as age 4, to know this truth:  We all possess inherent worth.  We all have built-in precious value that no one can take away from us….not even those who proclaim to us, “You’re not much.”

Through forgiveness education, the student learns this answer: “Not only am I of precious worth, but so are you, the one who wants to convince me that I am ‘not much.’”

The world needs forgiveness education so that we can rescue the young from these lies….and so that they can pick themselves up…..and others up…….and create a more peaceful world.

Robert

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Victim’s Mother Forgives Oscar Pistorius

Christian Today, London, England – The trial of Oscar Pistorius, a world-class Paralympian blade runner and the first ever double-amputee to participate in the Olympic Games, is causing a world-wide media frenzy. The South African athlete is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius claims hePistorius - Time Mag shot her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder.  The prosecution says he is a hotheaded killer who murdered his girlfriend in a moment of anger.

Amidst all the controversy, the victim’s mother, June Steenkamp, has stunned the world by saying she has forgiven Reeva’s killer.

“I’m not a person who hates another person. One has to forgive, otherwise I will sit with all that anger,” Steenkamp said in an interview with ITV. “One has to forgive, but we’ll never forget.”

During a similar interview on the Today show, Steenkamp said that Pistorius “made a mistake – an enormous mistake – and I’ve lost the most precious thing in my life – my beautiful daughter. But I can still forgive. I can forgive.”

In forgiving Pistorius, June is saying she will not let her anger consume her, and she will not keep it from stopping the process of reconciliation. She is choosing to find life in the midst of such intense grief and pain. Christian Today reporter Carey Lodge.

Read the full story: “June Steenkamp’s readiness to forgive offers a challenge to Christians everywhere.”

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Do you think it is harder to forgive a person for one really bad offense or to forgive someone who constantly is doing small things to demean and does so almost every day?

The answer will vary by person and by how gravely serious the one offense is. Many people tell me that they struggle with forgiving those who hurt them on a regular basis. There are two reasons for this: 1) the 20th offense is harder than the first because there is a cumulative effect. The resentments get stronger as the problems persist; and 2) the person sometimes feels trapped, as if the problem will never end. This is why it is so important not only to forgive but also to seek fairness from the other. Living in harmony can occur when the one with a consistent pattern of unfairness comes to see this as unfair and is willing to change. Forgiving and correcting work well together as a team.

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Does Forgiveness Make Sense without the Concept of Free Will?

We are all connected and so one person’s actions are not necessarily independent from others’ actions.  Is this true?  Some Eastern philosophies say this.  Some Western psychologies say this, too.  For example, family systems theory surmises that a misbehaving child likely is being influenced by pressures within the family generated by others’ behavior both inside and outside that family.  Psychodynamic theories in psychology say that an adult’s actions can have causes going back to how he or she was treated as a child.

Given all of the interrelated ideas above about our being interrelated in our actions, we can then make at least two moves in explaining people’s behavior: 1) no one can truly help certain actions because of others’ influences over us or 2) we all have free will and choose to act rightly or wrongly even if others’ make it hard to be good.

If we take the first turn on our journey of understanding persons, then we weaken such ideas as “right and wrong,” “justice,” and “forgiveness.”  After all, how can we say that one person acted wrongly? if we are all so interconnected, then this personFree Will is not acting with any kind of genuine volition.  In a certain way, his misbehavior can implicate his father, who can implicate his mother, who can implicate……..On it goes until we all share the blame which weakens the case against the original person and his actions under consideration.

If we take the second turn on our journey of understanding persons,  then we strengthen such ideas as  “right and wrong,” “justice,” and “forgiveness.”  After all, the person, even though pressed in on all sides by others, has choices.  One need not, for example, hit another person because of frustration. One’s mother has not so abused this person that she was left with one and only one option.  Yes, the mother’s misbehavior (whatever it was) may make it difficult for the daughter to control her temper, but control it to a degree she can.

Free will.  Independent choices.  Break the laws of morality (you will not take the life of an innocent person, for example), and you do wrong.  If the wrong is done to me, I can forgive.  If the other does not have free will, then an apparent wrong is just that—-apparent.  Do I then forgive a person for a wrong?  The conclusion is no longer clear.  We will have to re-define forgiveness in this case to keep the word.  Forgiveness becomes a kind of acceptance of all along with their actions, no matter how wrong they might appear to be.  We still retain such words as “compassion” and “understanding,” but the word forgiveness itself begins to fade.

Robert

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“If You’ve Been Forgiven, Then You Need to Extend That Forgiveness”

Today – News, New York City – How do you react when you learn that your 30-year-old wife and her unborn child have been killed in a two-car crash? That the driver of the other car had fallen asleep at the wheel? That you are now a widower with a 19-month-old baby daughter? If you’re Erik Fitzgerald, you forgive.

“You forgive as you’ve been forgiven,” said Fitzgerald, referencing a Bible verse. “It wasn’t an option. If you’ve been forgiven, then you need to extend that forgiveness.”

Heart in SkyFitzgerald, a full-time pastor, has not only forgiven but his forgiveness has created a friendship now six years strong with the driver of that other car–Matt Swatzell. The men stay connected by meeting at least once every two weeks, attending church together and eating meals at the Waffle House and other restaurants–just the two of them.

Swatzell, who lives in Dacula, GA, was driving home from a 24-hour shift as a firefighter and EMS and had only 30 minutes of sleep on the night of the Oct. 2, 2006 crash. He was less than four miles from his home when he nodded off and crashed into the car being driven by June Fitzgerald.

“We recognized that when we first started meeting it was unusual. We knew it was God,” said Fitzgerald, now 38. Their friendship was captured in a video produced by NewSpring Church that was shot in 2011, but is going viral again online, collecting hundreds of thousands of views a day.

Read the full story: “Widower forges friendship with man in crash that killed wife, unborn baby.”

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