Author Archive: directorifi
“Bullying will not be tolerated in this school.”
“You are entering a no bullying zone.”
Consciousness raising is good precisely because it challenges each of us to be our best self, to do good for others.
Yet, sometimes some students are so emotionally wounded that their anger overwhelms the attempt at consciousness raising. The students are so very wounded that they cannot listen well. Some are so wounded that they refuse to listen. Even others are so mortally wounded that they find a certain pleasure in inflicting pain on others. It is when it gets to that point—others’ pain equals pleasure for the one inflicting it—that we have a stubborn problem on our hands. No signs, no consciousness raising, no rally in the gym, no pressure to be good is going to work…..because the gravely wounded student is now beyond listening.
Yet, we have found a hidden way to reverse the trend in those who are so hurting that they derive pain from hurting others. It is this: Ask the hurting students, those labeled so often as bullies, to tell their story of pain, their story of how others have abused them. You will see this as the rule rather than the exception: Those who inflict pain over and over have stories of abuse toward them that would make you weep. In fact, we have seen the weeping come from the one who has bullied others, the one who has inflicted serious pain onto others. He wept because, as he put it, “No one ever asked me for my story before.” His story was one of cruel child abuse from an alcoholic father who bruised him until he bled. And no one ever asked him about this. And so he struck out at others. Once he told his story, he began to forgive his father and his pain lessened and thus his need to inflict pain on others slowly melted away.
This is what our Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program does. It aids counselors and teachers in bringing out the stories in the pain-inflictors so that their own pain dramatically decreases. As this happens, through forgiveness, bullying behavior is rendered powerless……because in examining their own hurt they finally realize how much hurt they have inflicted…..and with their own emotional pain gone, they have no desire to live life like this any more.
Come, take our anti-bullying curriculum and save the life of at least one child and help prevent inflicted pain on countless others.
Whenever there is war, there are serious disagreements between or among those who fight. One kind of disagreement is the contradiction in which two sides cannot both be correct. One is right and the other wrong. Then we have as a second kind of disagreement, what we call contrary views. Here, it is not necessarily the case that one is correct and the other incorrect. Both may have a partial truth. Thus, both may be wrong on some level and in different ways.
When groups insist that they are correct and morally right when this contradicts reality, and if this belief persists in the face of clear evidence against the position, we have a delusion. Delusions are part of the totality of war. Both sides can be wrong (in different ways) or just one side might be wrong and hold to a dangerous delusion that their own group is completely correct.
Forgiving others is one strong way of looking reality in the face and saying, “Yes, this person (or group) treated me (or our group) wrongly,” or “Now that I think about it, there is nothing to forgive because I cannot see how this person (or group) acted wrongly.”
Forgiving clearly is one way to break delusions that others deserve harsh treatment.
Forgiving clearly is one way to stop a war before it gets started if the aggressor can face his or her own delusions, see that others should not receive that aggression, and therefore stop acting on the delusion and aggression.
We need forgiveness in educational institutions when children are 4 years old. Forgiveness education needs to be part of instruction through the end of high school. Such education gives students the opportunity to grow up knowing how to look reality in the face, discern fair and unfair treatment, and stop the delusions, that can lead to war, before the aggression begins.
Seattle, WA – A truly inviting home environment is an important aspect of dealing with forgiveness and mental health for senior citizens and those with physical disabilities, special needs, or Alzheimer’s. It’s vital they and their loved ones have access to the best resources about how to make their homes livable and enjoyable.
Now there is a unique resource to help the disabled–or those who care for them–plan, finance, and complete beneficial home modifications. A handy guide called “Home Remodeling for Disability and Special Needs: What You Need to Know,” has been developed by Expertise, a consumer resource center based in Seattle, WA.
This newly-released guide identifies legal and financial resources available to citizens, seniors, and veterans; offer tips to hire the right home remodeler; and suggests modifications throughout the home to make the space as accommodating as possible. Importantly, the guide lists nearly 30 websites where government and private sector programs are available to help those who fall into this category.
It also outlines requirements and benefits of the American Disabilities Act of 1990, the Fair Housing Act, the various financial assistance programs offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Special Housing Adaptation Grants through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
In an essay for The Nation dated July 25, 2015, Dr. Marcel de Roos has an essay with the intriguing title, Forgiveness Trap. What does that mean and is there such a trap? Let us examine the evidence in seven points:
- Dr. De Roos states in the first paragraph: “. . . . .in therapy more often than not the concept of forgiveness is something that rather hinders progress than enhances it.” Our science, published in peer-reviewed journals, suggests just the opposite. People who willingly choose to forgive and take the time to practice it improve in emotional health
to a statistically-significantly greater degree than people in control groups. Depression, anger, and anxiety go down and self-esteem and hope increase. Some of these studies can be found on the Research Page of this website.
- In the second paragraph, he states: “….strong beliefs like ‘honour your father and mother’ can do much harm and can delay or obstruct the therapeutic process in a serious way.” Forgiveness, properly understood, does not demand that a person enter into the exact same role as he or she had under severe abuse. An abused spouse, for example, can forgive, but then stay away if further abuse is likely. An adolescent who is severely abused by a parent, with no end to this in sight, often is taken out of the home for the adolescent’s own safety and emotional health. One can forgive without assuming the same role as before when the abuse is severe and on-going with no anticipated change by the offending person.
- In the fifth paragraph we read: “Forgiveness in general can be important to mend broken relationships, but Martha has no reason to wish for a normal contact with her father.” Forgiveness, yes, can mend relationships, but this is not its only consequence. Mending one’s own broken heart is another consequence awaiting those who willingly choose to forgive and follow a proper protocol of forgiveness therapy.
- In the sixth paragraph we read: “In order to be able to forgive, the perpetrator should take responsibility……” If an offending person refuses to take responsibility and if the client thinks this is necessary, then we have a trap of unforgiveness: The client is not free to forgive whenever he or she wishes. In other words, the client is trapped in having to refrain from forgiveness, even if he or she wishes to do so. This could deprive the client of valuable emotional healing as pointed out above in our point 1. de Roos here is confusing forgiving and reconciling. In doing so, he is creating an unwitting trap of unforgiveness in clients.
- We read farther into the essay: “Forgiveness is a choice. In Martha’s case forgiveness was not possible and she is a clear example of how you can continue with your life without it.” I agree. Just because some people can get along without forgiveness does not invalidate forgiveness as a viable and good therapeutic strategy.
- And still farther: “….the most important thing is to feel your emotions like anger, hurt and revenge. You have to ‘wade’ through these and more painful feelings in order to find emotional balance.” Yet, how long and to what level of intensity is it necessary for a client to live with revenge? Revenge is a dangerous emotion if left unchecked. It can harm the self and others. Further, good forgiveness therapy starts with the acknowledgement of negative emotions such as anger and mourning. Forgiveness therapy does not invalidate these emotions, but instead acknowledges them and offers a path for the release of them.
- And finally, this: “People who hear from their therapist that they must forgive ought to think twice….” I could not agree more. This theme of insisting should not give forgiveness itself a black eye. Forgiveness itself, at its essence, gives people the free will to choose or reject forgiveness. It does not demand.
Forgiveness is tough-minded and tender-hearted. It will never insist on hasty reconciliation nor that the forgiver become a doormat. To think otherwise is to put the essence of forgiveness, and a client’s options, in a trap.
Some claim that forgiveness is a Christian virtue that began with Jesus Christ. What do you say to that? I see that anyone, regardless of his/her religious beliefs, can forgive another, but is that person practicing a Christian virtue without recognizing its Christian root? When someone says forgiveness is a Christian virtue, can it mean that it was first then crystallized through the teaching of Jesus? Thank you.
The first part of the answer is taken directly from an interview I gave for MercatorNet on July 8, 2015.
But isn’t there a Christian bias built into the idea of forgiveness? Does it work in other faith traditions? Is there a bias in that only Christians can practice the moral virtues of justice, patience, and kindness? If not, why then would not forgiveness be open to all people? We all have the capacity to act virtuously. We may not all reach the same depth of practice, but we all can offer goodness to others in a variety of ways.
Forgiveness, in other words, is open to all people in the world if they choose to exercise this particular virtue when hurt by others. Our research includes people of many faith traditions, as well as those with no faith. When those who choose the forgiveness path finish the work, their well-being tends to improve as seen in the research findings.
Further, there are strong examples of person to person forgiving in the Jewish scriptures (see Genesis 37-45 in which Joseph forgives his brothers. The Qu’ran has a similar story in the book entitled Joseph. Confucian philosophy has the idea of “shu” which includes forgiveness. Hindu writings talk of forgiving those with whom you have been at war. Buddhism, although lacking an explicit word “forgiveness,” talks of loving-kindness and compassion and has stories that clearly show a person forgiving.
Yes, the Christian faith and philosophy, especially as developed by Thomas Aquinas, developed a theology of forgiveness centered on charity or agape love. This, one can argue from a philosophical perspective, is the highest form of forgiveness, to love those who do not love you. Yet, it would be a mistake to say that forgiveness now is only a Christian moral virtue. It is a moral virtue open to all.