Author Archive: directorifi

Forgiveness as Palliative Care for Cancer Patients and Family Members – Oct. 18

Dr. Robert Enright will be a featured speaker at the UW Carbone Cancer Center’s twelfth annual professional education conference, Advances in Multidisciplinary Cancer Care, on Friday, October 18, 2013. His presentation is titled “Forgiveness as Palliative Care for Cancer Patients and Family Members.”

For additional information, contact: Craig Robida, public relations, crrobida@uwcarbone.wisc.edu.

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Bully Blues Busters: Positive Ways to Promote Kindness

Natural Awakenings, Naples, FL – Dr. Robert Enright’s Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program is one of two anti-bullying programs featured in the February issue of Natural Awakenings, a publication that has more than 3 million readers in 82 US markets. According to Sharon Bruckman, founder of the 20-year-old magazine, “Our job is to keep our finger on the pulse of advancing thought in order to keep everyone apprised of the best healthy-life choices available to them.”

According to the Natural Awakenings article, most school anti-bullying programs focus on the prevention of unwanted behaviors. But Dr. Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, has developed a uniquely different approach.

“Because those that engage in bullying are often filled with rage from having been bullied themselves, they get to a point that they don’t care about the consequences of their actions, including detention,” Dr. Enright says. “Our program is meant to take the anger out of the heart of those that bully, so they bully no more.”

The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fears of being attacked or intimidated by other students.

That Natural Awakenings article resulted in WZZM13 ABC TV in Grand Rapids, MI inviting Dr. Matthew Clark to be a guest on the 9 am talk show called Take Five & Company. Dr. Clark, Psy.D., runs The Clark Institute–Private Practice Psychotherapy for Children, Adolescents, and Adults in Grand Rapids. During that 4-minute TV segment, which you can watch at Positive Ways to Promote Kindness in Children,” Dr. Clark mentions the IFI, suggests viewers go to the IFI website, and gives the IFI web address.

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Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness

A movie review by Dr. Giles Fraser

The Guardian and The Church Times Review, London, England – Patrick Magee killed Jo Berry’s father on October 12, 1984. He was the notorious IRA Brighton bomber; she is the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, former Tory MP for Enfield, Southgate, England. They were an unlikely pair to be mingling over the canapés in an upscale London hotel.

The occasion was the first London screening of a new documentary film, Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness, which examines extraordinary stories of forgiveness in Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the Middle East.

Some of it was almost unbearable to watch: the Rwandan woman whose five children were massacred in church is approached by their killer, who asks for forgiveness; the now-grown-up Irish schoolboy who was blinded by a rubber bullet meets the British soldier who fired the round; the Israeli and Palestinian families who meet, despite having all lost children in the conflict.

One of the stories in Beyond Right and Wrong tells how Magee traveled across England in 1978, planting 16 bombs in various cities and, then again, in 1984, when he blew up Brighton’s Grand Hotel during the Conservative party conference, killing five people. Magee eventually served 14 years in prison, released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. Jo Berry’s forgiveness of Magee is quite extraordinary, taking huge courage and emotional poise. And she admitted to me that she sometimes goes for a walk on the beach in north Wales and smashes rocks against each other in frustration. This is a safe detonation of the anger she feels inside. She says that for all to move on and reclaim a more peaceful future, these feelings have to be left on the beach.

Too often, forgiveness is construed as miraculously having positive feelings towards the person who had harmed you. This understanding is, I suspect, an impossible fiction. But what is not impossible is the refusal of revenge, the refusal to answer back in kind. Beyond Right and Wrong examines powerful stories of ordinary people in Rwanda and Israel/Palestine who have let go of perfectly natural punitive instincts in the name of a brighter tomorrow, one not trapped by the hatreds of the past.

View the 2-minute movie trailer. Purchase the Beyond Right and Wrong DVD.

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Desmond Tutu Wins 2013 Templeton Prize for Forgiveness Work

thumb-tutu-headshot

Photo courtesy Templeton Foundation
by Michael Culme Seymour

Religion News Service, Columbia, MO – Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his battle against apartheid, has won the 2013 Templeton Prize for his work in advancing the cause of peace and the spiritual principles of forgiveness.

“Desmond Tutu calls upon all of us to recognize that each and every human being is unique in all of history and, in doing so, to embrace our own vast potential to be agents for spiritual progress and positive change” Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr., president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, said in announcing the $1.7 million award. “Not only does he teach this idea, he lives it.”

In his remarks, Templeton, Jr. said the judges believed that “Tutu’s steadfastness to core Christian principles such as love and forgiveness has broken chains of hurt, pain and all too common instincts for revenge, and instead, has advanced the spiritual liberation of people around the world.”

Tutu, 81, said he was “totally bowled over” by winning the prize which will be presented at a May 21 ceremony at the Guildhall in London.

“We inhabit a universe where kindness matters, compassion matters, caring matters,” Tutu added. “This is a moral universe and right and wrong matter. And mercifully, gloriously, right will prevail.”

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

Read the full story: Desmond Tutu wins 2013 Templeton Prize for work on forgiveness.

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Spring into Forgiving: Differences Between Forgiveness and Reconciliation

The snow is melting. The days are becoming longer. Even the birds are starting to chirp. Spring is a wonderful time of new beginnings. New relationships develop and fantasies of improving old relationships may increase. For most people, time spent with friends and family brings happiness. However, for some, relationships with family members and/or friends can be a source of stress related to past conflicts. There are many ways to cope with conflict and feelings of anger and resentment but one approach that we don’t often hear about is the idea of Forgiveness. In an article I read in Runner’s World, the author states, “Butter brings families together, mends old wounds and softens the harsh glare of old resentments, and even makes peas taste good” (Parent, December 2011, p. 50). I don’t know if forgiveness can make “peas taste good” but I do believe that forgiveness can be just as effective as butter, if not more so, in “bringing families together, mending old wounds and softening resentment.”

Many misconceptions and misunderstandings surround what it means to forgive, how to forgive, and when to forgive. Forgiveness involves a willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and negative behavior toward one who unjustly injured us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity, and sometimes even love toward him or her ( Enright, 2001; North, 1987). Notice in the definition that you have a “right” to feel resentment and that the offender does not “deserve” your compassion and generosity based on his or her actions. Forgiveness can also be more simply defined as a decrease in negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors toward the offender and perhaps, over time, a gradual increase in more positive thoughts, feelings, and sometimes behaviors (Enright et al., 1991). Forgiveness does not mean that you deny your offender’s wrongdoing or excuse your offender or the wrongdoing.

One frequent misconception of forgiveness is that it is the same as reconciliation. Although frequently confused with reconciliation, forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation and does not automatically lead to reconciliation. You can forgive and choose not to reconcile. Forgiveness is something you, as the injured, can do on your own and reconciliation requires a change in behavior on the part of the offender; possibly including an apology and the admittance of wrongdoing. Some criticize forgiveness because they think that advocating forgiveness leads to further abuse. However, in the case of a woman married to a partner who continuously cheats on her, she can leave her partner and work on forgiving without staying in the relationship. I would only advise her to consider reconciling if her partner changed his behavior and admitted to his wrongdoing. Forgiveness can also lead to reconciliation. It might be the first step in the process of getting back together with an offender who is sorry for his or her actions.

Forgiveness is a complicated topic and it is definitely not easy, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Future blogs on forgiveness will discuss the role of anger and apology when forgiving, the relation between forgiveness and forgetting, how religion relates to forgiveness, and who benefits when one forgives. Forgiveness is not the only approach to dealing with deep, personal, and unfair hurt. Remember, there’s butter. It is just one response that is not always thought about or tried.

Suzanne Freedman, Professor, University of Northern Iowa

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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR RESEARCH PROJECT

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