Archive for October, 2016
What happens when you forgive a person who refuses to forgive you in return? Suppose after you forgive, the other refuses to talk with you. How do you come to a peace when you know the other hates you?
There are no guarantees that your forgiveness will change the other person. Part of forgiving is knowing that you have done your best to offer compassion and even love to the other. You can go in peace knowing that you have done your best.
In Chapter 2 of your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you make the claim that if I try to forget offenses against me, then this is unhealthy. Why do you say that? Isn’t it healthy to put the past behind?
Yes, it is healthy to put the past behind if one does not deny the anger inside of oneself. My point in saying that trying to forget is unhealthy is this: So often we still remember the deep injustices against us. It often is unrealistic to completely forget what happened. We do not develop a kind of moral amnesia when we forgive. Instead, we remember in new ways, without the build-up of strong anger. We need to be gentle with ourselves when we remember details of cruelty against us. Such remembering does not mean that we have failed to forgive.
When you self-forgive, you are practicing the virtue of mercy toward yourself. And this next point is very important: You continually extend virtues toward yourself, such as being fair to yourself (the virtue of justice), taking care of yourself (the virtues of kindness and wisdom), and being patient with yourself when you are learning new things in life. If you can practice all of these virtues toward yourself, why would anyone want to bar you from the most important of the moral virtues: loving yourself in the face of disappointment, disapproval, and in extreme cases, self-hatred?
Enright, Robert (2015-09-28). 8 Keys to Forgiveness (8 Keys to Mental Health) (p. 181). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
Too often in society the word forgiveness is used casually: “Please forgive me for being 10 minutes late.” Forgiveness is used in place of many other words, such as excusing, distorting the intended meaning. People so often try to forgive with misperceptions; each may have a different meaning of forgiveness, unaware of any error in his or her thinking.
Freedman and Chang (2010, in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, volume 32, pages 5-34) interviewed 49 university students on their ideas of the meaning of forgiveness and found that the most frequent understanding (by 53% of the respondents) was to “let go” of the offense. This seems to be similar to either condoning or excusing. Of course, one can let go of the offense and still be fuming with the offender. The second most common understanding of forgiveness (20%) was that it is a “moving on” from the offense. Third most common was to equate forgiveness with not blaming the offender, which could be justifying, condoning, or excusing, followed by forgetting about what happened. Only 8% of the respondents understood forgiveness as seeing the humanity in the other, not because of what was done but in spite of it.
If we start forgiveness education early, when students are 5 or 6 years old, they will have a much firmer grasp of what forgiveness is…..and therefore likely will be successful in their forgiveness efforts, especially if these students are schooled not only in what forgiveness is but also in how to go about forgiving.
I am not overly angry with anyone who has treated me unkindly. Does this mean that I should not consider forgiving? In other words, do I forgive only when angry or in pain from what a person did to me?
You are free to forgive whenever there is injustice toward you and you have pain to any degree. In other words, you do not have to wait until you are fuming with anger to forgive. At the same time, if you have no pain whatsoever then you need not forgive because, as the philosopher Margaret Holmgren points out, forgiveness is in the context of both unfair treatment and injury of some kind.