Archive for October, 2023
It appears to me that not all anger is negative. Can’t people find concentration, find energy in their anger, and achieve justice?
Indeed, having anger can serve as a driving force for doing good. However, we must distinguish between anger that stays within healthy bounds (i.e., does not incapacitate us and is not excessive) and anger that escalates into resentment (a sustained and intense form of anger that can cause exhaustion, division, and even medical issues). If we fail to recognize this difference, we risk becoming resentful and believing that it is ultimately beneficial rather than harmful.
Here is my answer from the book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness (page 225):
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.
I would recommend the following meta-analysis of forgiveness education in different world zones:
Rapp, H., Wang Xu, J., & Enright, R.D. (2022). A meta-analysis of forgiveness education interventions’ effects on forgiveness and anger in children and adolescents. Child Development, 93, 1249-1269.https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13771
The more that I take the other person’s perspective, the more I see a nasty person who should not have given in to those inner wounds. In other words, taking this kind of perspective makes me less forgiving, not more forgiving.
When we take the other’s perspective, we do not focus exclusively on that person’s history of being wounded. Yes, this is part of the process, but only one part. We also ask the forgiver to take what we call the global perspective in which the forgiver tries to see that both the one who offended and the forgiver share a common humanity. This, coupled with seeing the other person’s inner wounds, can help soften the heart of the one who is forgiving. We further have what we call the cosmic perspective, if the forgiver has a faith-based perspective, which can include seeing that both the one who offended and the one who was offended are both loved by God.
If, as you say, forgiveness is such a noble and difficult moral virtue to practice, don’t you think we should start teaching forgiveness to children at a young age?
Yes, forgiveness education needs to begin early in order to offer children the opportunity to learn how to love in this way of forgiving those who have been unjust. This is why we at the International Forgiveness Institute have developed forgiveness curricula for students from age 4 to age 18. Forgiveness education has been scientifically tested and found to help students forgive and to reduce their anger.