Archive for April, 2014

Business Owner Forgives Men Who Robbed and Shot Him

WDIO-TV, Duluth, MN – Business owner Colin Mackin said he forgives the two men who shot him in the chest while burglarizing his store, and has moved on.

forgiveness handcuffsBrandon Tyson and Robert Neft have both pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder for the December incident. On Monday, a judge sentenced each to 12 1/2 years in prison.

“The thing about being bitter and holding grudges is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” according to Mackin, owner of ILF Smartphone Clinic in Duluth. “It just doesn’t really accomplish anything.”

Read the full story: “Men Sentenced in Duluth Attempted Murder, Victim Offers Forgiveness.”

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My brother and I are not getting along. Whenever I try to tell him that I forgive him he just gets angry and it actually is making matters worse. Do I drop the attempt to forgive him and if I do, then what can I do to get rid of this anger that has built up in me?

When you forgive, you do not have to go directly to the person who hurt you to proclaim your forgiveness. You can show your forgiveness by a smile, by paying attention when he speaks, by showing respect. Eventually, he may be ready to deal directly with your forgiveness, but for now the most loving thing seems to be to take the softer, indirect approach with him. Your inner world of forgiveness can still be healing for you under this circumstance.

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For Scientists: A Critique of the Enright Forgiveness Inventory in China (EFI-Mandarin Version)

A colleague of ours recently attended a national conference in which a Master’s thesis in Canada by Hanson (2005) was extensively discussed.  The author asserts that the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI) inadvertently assesses tolerance and not forgiveness in China.

The conclusion was reached by having university students rate the items regarding what the students think the scale’s intent is. The consensus was that it assesses tolerance and not forgiveness. Thus, Hanson questions the validity of the scale in the Chinese culture. We have four rebuttals to his conclusion.

Chinese symbols for tolerance

Chinese symbols for tolerance

First, as Hanson points out in the document, Chinese students have far more exposure to the concept of tolerance, based on Confucianism, than to forgiveness, thus possibly biasing them in that direction when making their judgements.

Second, a good scale’s intent will not be obvious to participants, otherwise social desirability can confound the results. As pointed out above, we deliberately chose items, in the initial construction of the instrument, that had no relationship with social desirability and a strong relationship with the one-item question about forgiveness.

Chinese symbols for forgiveness

Chinese symbols for forgiveness

Third, we have a study in Taiwan reported in the “in press” book entitled,  Forgiveness Therapy (APA Books), which clearly shows as high a correlation as is possible (when using a one-item scale) between participants’ EFI scores and the degree to which participants have forgiven the person targeted on the EFI.  Although Taiwan and China have traditional and simplified versions, respectively, of the Chinese language, these are nonetheless more similar than different and people in each of these cultures can understand one another. In other words, a study in Taiwan can help shed light on Hanson’s assertions in China.

Fourth, items on the EFI such as feeling “tender” and “caring” and seeing the other as “loving” have little to do with tolerance (a respectful putting-up-with) and much to do with forgiving.  If someone were tolerating and not forgiving, he or she would not score high on these items, thus reducing the correlation between the EFI and the one-item forgiveness question.

We critique the Hanson effort here so that the unsuspecting researcher who consults his thesis is not misled by his conclusion.


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The Clash of Diversion and Persistence

Yesterday, I was talking with a thoughtful person who works for a high-powered company.  His insight is that, even though this is a solid company for which he likes to work, there is a problem.  That problem, very obvious to him, is this: the end-point or goal of the company is to make money.

His point was this: Making money, a thousand years ago, used to be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.  Now people in modern cultures do not even think twice about this.  The central goal of too many companies is to make money.

Money-MeansWhen means to ends (such as making money) become desired ends, then our purpose in life can get fuzzy.  After all, if the means is the end we have stood our priorities on their heads and so our quest for genuine meaning in this life gets obscure.

When we do not know why we are here, we feel pain and experience confusion.  When the pain and confusion settle in, there tends to be a quest for diversion, entertainment, a moment’s pleasure spent to block the pain and avoid thinking about the confusion.

Diversions themselves now have become a large part of our ends in modern societies.  After all, how much per capita per year is spent on entertainments and diversions?  When diversions then become ends, we weaken in persistence toward meaningful goals.  After all, diversions call for change, variety, pumping adrenaline for a few hours of pain reduction.

When we lose sight of true goals and fall into diversions and fall into the trap of constant variety, we lose our sense of persistence and our strong will weakens.

So, then, what does all of this have to do with forgiveness?  Precisely this:  I have seen that too many people come rushing into the practice of forgiveness with enthusiasm and passion, but then just cannot sustain the effort over months and years as they quest for the next “new thing.”  And even that “new thing” gets old fast when diversion and pleasure and money-making are the culturally-created ends.

And so forgiveness does not mature and when the pains of injustice come, there is no strength to meet the pains with mercy and love and so the pains are passed to others who now must divert from their pain…..and on it goes.

We need, first, insight that this is happening.  Then we need to take a courageous look at our wills to persevere in the necessary issues that make us and others more human and forgiveness is one of these.  And we need to persevere in these necessary issues and not let diversions dominate….for the good of humanity.  Long live forgiveness.  Long  live our pursuit of it.


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Read. Digest. Repeat.

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.   Gilbert K. Chesterton

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.   Martin Luther King, Jr.  Sun Thru Trees

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.   Marianne Williamson

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love?’ These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will be many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.  Henri Nouwen

Forgiveness has a way of cutting through anger, anxiety and depression and restoring emotional health. By forgiving, an individual refuses to let anger and resentment prevail.    Dr. Robert Enright

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