Archive for October, 2016

Do you think that much of the bullying in school stems from a past experience of being bullied? For example, a 5th grade boy bullies a 2nd grade boy because the former was bullied at that age?

I am not sure that the reason for bullying gets so precise that a person bullies another based on the year in which he first was bullied.  Yet, it is our hypothesis that many of those who bully have experienced such unfair treatment by someone (or more than one person) that they are very angry.  Their anger, from past hurts against them, now is displaced onto unsuspecting others in their lives.  A son who is treated cruelly by his father, for example, may bring his pent-up anger to school and start to exhibit bullying behavior.  He needs to forgive his father if his bullying is to stop.

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Leaving a Legacy of Love in the World

Think about this: Long after you are gone, your love could be alive and well and living on this earth in the minds, hearts, and beings of others. You can begin to leave a legacy of love by how you live this very day. In all likelihood, you will meet others today. If your heart is filled with love rather than with bitterness, it will be much easier to pass that love to others. Do you see why it is so important to forgive? You are given the joyous opportunity to shed bitterness and put love in its place for the one who hurt you and then more widely to many, many others, as you are freed to love more deeply and more widely. The meaning and purpose of your life are intimately tied to this decision to leave a legacy of love.

Enright, Robert (2015-09-28). 8 Keys to Forgiveness (8 Keys to Mental Health) (p. 225). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

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The Culture of Playing Pretend

While watching a college football game yesterday, I began to focus on the commercials.  One showed a confident, strutting person, who seemed to have it “all together,” climb into a car, pet the steering wheel as if some kind of spiritual height had been reached, and the message was delivered to the viewer: If you want to be “all together,” if you want to reach the spiritual heights, you must—-must, with no exceptions—desire this car, covet this car, go into debt to buy this car.  This car is your life!

Then there was a video of some kind of bun with melted cheese and bacon on it.  The cheese was bubbly, the bacon sizzling and crisp.  The video was in slow motion as camera panned ever closer to the heavenly bun.  You must—-must—-desire this confection, covet it, go into dietary debt to buy it.  This bun is your life!

And we almost insist that the sellers make such commercials before we buy.  Go ahead, trick me first and then I will buy.  Create the fantasy.  I live for fantasy.  Fantasy is my life!

And so it goes.  I began to wonder.  Have we created a world of fantasy, not only in books or films but also in our-everyday-life-as-a-lived-fantasy?  Go ahead, trick me.  And so, do we do this with regard to the injustices of life now?  Do we deny serious wrongdoing as we go about filling our pain with the bun or even, on rare occasion, with the new car?  I am not all that hurt…, really……pass the buns.

Do we also engage in the opposite of this?  Do some create false injustices and play the role of victim to garner sympathy………and power?  After all, if in the world of fantasy, I can falsely accuse you of harming me and you falsely believe it, then I am controlling your behavior.  I win……at least temporarily in the world of fantasy.

Such fantastic fantasy, I think, keeps us from forgiving.  On the one hand, as we deny that we are in pain, then there is no one to forgive.  As we deny that others are manipulating us by playing the victim card and controlling our behavior, then there is no injustice to stand against, to correct, to courageously confront with the truth.  There is no one to forgive.

Oh well, this is all too strenuous for me anyway.  Perhaps I am wrong.  If you have the time, would you please pass that bubbling bun?


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I have gone through the forgiveness process now a few times with the one who has hurt me and I still have anger left over. It is not as intense as before, but there is anger left over. I am worried that I am not really forgiving. Can you help me with some insights here?

We often find that as people forgive there is anger left over.  As you point out, that anger is diminished; it does not control you.  Please keep in mind that having some residual anger is normal and so you can have confidence that you, indeed, are forgiving when you are wishing the other person well and you can do so with much less anger than before.

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Standing Up for Justice

Some have said that forgiveness can make a person weak, reduce the resolve to fight for what is right.  Yet, it seems to me that the opposite is true.  We become better at discerning what is right and wrong in our world when we forgive because forgiveness occurs precisely in that time in which we have been wronged and now we are injured.  The more that we struggle with our injuries from injustice, then the better we understand what injustice is, which can strengthen our insights into justice itself.

As we then understand the serious consequences of injustice, this may strengthen our resolve to fight for justice in a challenging world.  After all, as we see the injuries that the self and others can suffer from others’ wrongdoing, then we may be motivated to lessen those injuries by trying to lessen the injustices.  We then become fighters for justice.

The mistake is when we think in “either-or” terms: Either we forgive or we seek justice, but we must not do both.  This is faulty reasoning.  What other virtues must occur strictly in isolation from the other virtues?  If I am patient, must I refrain from kindness?  If I am courageous, must I throw wisdom out the window?  No.  The virtues are meant to complement one another: Forgiveness and justice; forgiveness and courage; forgiveness and the wisdom to know when to start forgiving.  Together, these virtues help us to avoid extremes such as forgiving and then putting up with nonsense and doing so repeatedly.

Forgive and stand up for justice.


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