Author Archive: directorifi

The Light of Forgiveness

CandleThis might help you understand what it is you are doing when you forgive. We are in a dark room, which represents the disorder of unjust treatment toward you. As you stumble around for a match to light a candle, this effort of groping in the dark for a positive solution represents part of the struggle to forgive. As you now light the candle, the room is illumined by both the light and warmth of the candle. When you forgive, you offer warmth and light to the one who created the darkness.

You destroy the darkness in your forgiving.

Now here is what I am guessing you did not know about the light of forgiveness: That light does not just stay in that little room. It goes out from there to others and it even continues to give light across time. For example, if you shed light and warmth on a person who has bad habits, he or she might be changed by your forgiveness and pass it along to others in the future.

Now consider this: If you give this warm candle of forgiveness to your children who give it to their children, then this one little candle’s light can continue across many generations, long after you are no longer here on earth.

I am guessing that you had not thought about forgiveness in quite this way before.

Dr. Bob

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Dr. Enright to Speak on “Healing Individual Hearts and Nations”

Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, will be giving a talk entitled, “Forgiveness Therapy and Forgiveness Education: Healing Individual Hearts and Nations,” on April 10, 2013, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Roundtable Luncheon, 11:45am to 1pm in Union South, Varsity Hall.

According to the luncheon announcement: Robert D. Enright is professor in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is president of the International Forgiveness Institute, has lectured across the country, and has appeared on ABC’s 20/20.

Within psychology, the study and implementation of forgiveness therapy is now taken for granted. Thirty years ago, no such therapy existed. The pioneering research that opened this to the therapeutic world was started right here on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus by Professor Robert Enright, Department of Educational Psychology. He has now extended this work to include forgiveness education in contentious regions of the world such as Belfast, Northern Ireland, Liberia, and Africa.

In this presentation, Professor Enright will address what forgiveness is and is not, how people forgive in a therapeutic context, including the research which helped the American Psychological Association to judge forgiveness therapy as an empirically-verified treatment, and how forgiveness education operates in Belfast and Liberia.

Register on-line.

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Shooting Victim’s Forgiveness Never Wavered

Omaha World Herald, Omaha, NE – His voice weak from an August 2011 shooting, Kerry Baker told his wife in a near whisper to forgive the young men involved in the robbery that left Baker paralyzed from the neck down.

“Kerry would always tell me, ‘You have to forgive them. They got what they got,'” Andrea Baker said, her voice breaking. “I’ve forgiven them. But I’m mad at them. So mad at them. And Kerry never was.”

Baker, an author and a barber, had been confined to a bed in his north Omaha home since he was shot by gang member Josh Provencher during a botched robbery at his barbershop.

The anger multiplied last week when Baker, 42, died–a death that authorities believe may be related to complications of the shooting and paralysis. Now Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine is mulling whether he can bring a murder charge against Provencher, who already was sentenced to 47 to 99 years in prison for Baker’s shooting.

In a September interview, Baker talked about how much he loved telling stories in print or at the barbershop. His once-husky voice was barely audible over the hum of his ventilated bed. But he wanted it made clear. He was moving forward. And he had forgiven Provencher.

Read the full story: “Shooting victim’s forgiveness never wavered.”

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A Truly Wonderful Story of Forgiveness

anything is possibleEighteen-year-old Takunda Mavima was driving home from a party when he lost control and crashed his car into an off-ramp near Grand Rapids, Michigan, in May of last year. Two passengers in the car–17 year-old Tim See, and 15 year-old Krysta Howell–were both killed in the collision.

Takunda Mavima lived.

Mavima pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to between 30 months and 15 years in prison.

Despite their unimaginable grief and anger, both the sister and the father of victim, Tim See, gave a moving address to the court on behalf of Mavima, urging the judge to give him a light sentence.

“I am begging you to let Takunda Mavima make something of himself in the real world. Don’t send him to prison and get hard and bitter, that boy has learned his lesson a thousand times over and he’ll never make the same mistake again,” See’s father said.

And when the hearing ended, the victim’s family made their way across the courtroom to embrace, console, and publicly forgive Mavima.

Read the full story: “A truly wonderful story of forgiveness.”

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Reality Is Constructed

ireland_bloody_sunday_2011_smallI was in conversation with a fellow academic recently and we were discussing the perceptions of history as they have emerged in Bosnia and Serbia as well as in Northern Ireland. We both have seen how opposing sides in an entrenched conflict tend to develop different stories of their histories. For example, let us take Bloody Sunday, 1972 in Northern Ireland, in which Irish demonstrators were shot by British soldiers. Even with commission reports trying to clarify definitively what happened that fateful day, both sides still have their advocates who make the strong claim that the other side shot first.

My colleague responded to this reality, that both sides construct their own histories, to say, “Reality is constructed.” Is this the case? Let us examine this because it has direct implications for forgiveness.

Is reality whatever we construct in our own minds? If so, then suppose a 6-year-old writes on his math quiz that 2+2=5. Suppose he says this is correct. He then is correct by this view (that reality is constructed) if—if—he continues to believe this true after the teacher marks it wrong and tries to explain the rules of mathematics to him, which he rejects. In Italian language class, if one student writes down that “horse” is translated as “cavallo” and another claims it is “ciuco,” and insists despite the protestations of the instructor, then both are correct. Why? Because they have constructed their own views and to construct one’s own views is to construct reality, at least that is the premise under consideration.

I hope you realize that we have just created a world of relativism in which the only right answer is the one each of us generates.

Yet, this cannot be the case because 2+2 is never 5 and a horse is never a donkey.

Is forgiveness, then, whatever we construct it as being in our own minds? Why would we wish to think this if the rules of mathematics and language (and rules of grammar for that matter) do matter? Why would something as time-honored as the rules of the moral virtues all of a sudden take on a relative twist to them when other, important rules for human interaction are absolute (not relative) and objective (not subjective in any meaningful sense)?

If you think about it, the basic understanding of what forgiveness is has not changed across historical time (if our starting point is the Hebrew scriptures), nor has it differed across the various ancient traditions of the Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, or Hindu systems.

“Reality is constructed.” I think that is a construction of some minds. And if that is true, that the statement itself is constructed, then why take the time to try to believe it? It simply came from someone’s mind who says that there are no definitive rules to reality. If this is so, then there cannot be a rule that “reality is constructed.” In trying to make an absolute and objective statement that we all construct our own reality, he just rendered his own premise false.

Long live the absolute and objective meaning of forgiveness. And what is that meaning? Let us start here: “What is Forgiveness?”

Dr. Bob

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle