Archive for April, 2014

The Generosity of the Rev. Desmond Tutu

I first met Rev. Tutu in March, 1995.  Well, I did not exactly meet him….I met his voice.  We were holding the first conference on person-to-person forgiveness ever held at any university in the world and we were doing so at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Rev. Tutu was kind enough to give the opening remarks by recorded audio to what now is an historical event–the first academic forgiveness conference.

I was immediately impressed with his warmth and wisdom.Rev Tutu 2  He talked of the African word ubuntu, of how we are all persons because of other persons.  He urged us all to try to overcome the animosities that have wounded the world because of a lack of forgiveness.  It was a challenge that is still with me, 19 years later.

Rev. Tutu recently has expanded his vision of stopping animosities worldwide by asking all of us to take the bold step of trying to learn to forgive as a global calling—for each of us—now—-for the good of humanity as well as for ourselves as we unburden from resentments that can pollute human interactions.

The new plan, announced recently by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu, concerns the Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge, a free online program starting May 4, 2014, designed to teach the world how to forgive.

The 30-day program is based on a systematic process of forgiving that the Tutus present in their new book, The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Healing Our World.

We have seen how Rev. Tutu guided the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with such compassion as he absorbed a country’s intense pain borne out of grave injustice.  We have read his book, No Future without Forgiveness.  He has lived forgiveness.  He has embodied it.  We can’t wait for his global initiative.  We hope you take a look and benefit from a man and his daughter who have known suffering.

Robert

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Desmond and Mpho Tutu Challenge the World to Forgive

Cape Town, South Africa, April 3, 2014 Desmond Tutu and his  daughter Mpho Tutu today announced the Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge, a free online program starting May 4, 2014, designed to teach the world how to forgive. In early registration people from over 100 countries have already signed up to participate.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in Mpho-Desmond Tutuleading non-violent opposition to South Africa’s apartheid system of racial domination. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he chaired created a way to address the overwhelming suffering and grief that were the legacy of over four decades of racial oppression. Since then he has taken his deeply human approach to resolving conflict to many other countries including Northern Ireland and Rwanda. His daughter, Mpho Tutu, has helped rape victims and refugees displaced by war and is currently completing a Ph.D. on the topic of forgiveness.

“Forgiving is a choice. A choice I have seen profoundly transform lives time and again,” says Archbishop Tutu, the face of forgiveness around the world. “As Nelson Mandela said when he walked free after 27 years of prison, ‘I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.’ Mpho and I share a vision to bring the transformative power of forgiveness to people everywhere and to see it spread through families, communities, countries and our whole world.”The Book of Forgiving

Together the Tutus bring their hard-earned and practical insight into the process of forgiving to a global audience in the Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge. The 30-day program is based on a systematic process of forgiving that the Tutus present in their new book, The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Healing Our World. 

Registration is open at www.ForgivenessChallenge.com. When the Tutu QuoteChallenge starts, May 4th, everyone registered will receive daily inspirational emails for the following thirty days from the Archbishop and Mpho with a link to log in to an online forgiveness community. There they will be guided through practical exercises on how to forgive, have opportunities to join discussions and share their own stories. During the Challenge there will be resources such as films, music and exclusive interviews with forgiveness heroes, experts, cultural icons and leaders including Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Alanis Morissette and more.

Archbishop Tutu is an Honorary Board Member of the International Forgiveness Institute.

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I have heard that when we forgive it is for the one who does the forgiving. Yet you seem to say on this website that those who forgive do it for the one who acted badly. Which is it and why?

We have to distinguish between what forgiveness is in its essence and the consequences when we forgive.  In its essence, forgiveness is a moral virtue practiced for the good of those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is centered in mercy and love for those who offend us.  One of the consequences of forgiving is that you experience emotional healing.  So, in its essence forgiveness is for others.  In one of its consequences, forgiveness is for you.

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Generalizing from the Particular to the Universal

You know how it goes.  You go into a department store and have an unpleasant encounter with the person at checkout…..and you never go back there again.  The particular incident has given you a bad feeling for the entire organization.

You break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and, at least for a while, you think that no one really can be trusted.  This one relationship makes you mistrustful of such relationships in general.

Generalization.  It can help us when the generalization is true and can distort reality for us when false.  For example, when we touch poison ivy in one woods, it is wise to avoid it in the next….and the next.  The effects of poison ivy generalize regardless of which plant we touch.  On the other hand, one boyfriend’s bad behavior does not predict another person’s behavior.  In this case, generalization closes down our mind and heart when there is no need for this.

When you are hurt by someone, you have to be careful not to generalize this to many, most, or all others.  Not everyone is out to hurt you.  Such generalization can form the unhealthy foundation for a world view that is pessimistic and inaccurate.  Has this happened to you?

If so, it is time to fight back against this.  Try saying the following to yourself as a way to break the habit of a false view of others:

I have been wounded by another person. For today, I will not let his/her wounds make me a bitter person who thinks negatively about people in general. I will overcome any tendency toward this by seeing others as having special worth, not because of what they have done, but in spite of this.  We are all on this planet together; we are all wounded.  Not all are out to wound me.

Robert

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