Author Archive: directorifi

Nihilism, I Would Like You to Meet Forgiveness

Hello, Nihilism. Today, I would like you to meet Forgiveness. I realize that your particular outlook on life is that life is…..how to put this…..meaningless.

Forgiveness disagrees with you. Forgiveness says that even when enduring the worst of suffering, we have the capacity to love and to show the world that our love is stronger than any suffering thrown our way. To love in the face of grave suffering gives profound meaning to human existence.

I know, I know. You say in response that to love is temporary and so it is an illusion. Life remains meaningless in the face of even love’s illusion.

Yet, for those who have struggled to love, they have an interior proof that this kind of love is real, not an illusion, that can stay with a person. The subjective experience is very affirming that there is meaning to life.

What was that? You are saying that there is no purpose to life? You say that even if a person finds meaning, yet there is no direction to life. You say that all we have left is this passive feeling of love inside that means nothing to anyone else. It is a drug, you say, only for the drugged one.

Forgiveness says otherwise. Forgiveness not only says, but shows that love can be in service to others who are hurting. Once a person experiences the love of forgiveness, then he or she often is highly motivated to share that love with others. This is purpose.  This is getting it done. This is no illusion.

Nihilism, I would like you to meet the love that is forgiveness. Love confirms that there is meaning and purpose to life. A definition of nihilism is to negate or to destroy. Perhaps forgiveness has just destroyed nihilism.

Robert

Why do you use stories when teaching children to forgive?

We deliberately use stories so that the child or adolescent is placed into a safe environment. It is not the student, then, who first has to confront wrongdoing. The student gets to quietly observe others who experience injustices and find a way to work out of the pain by forgiving. The story characters, then, serve as role-models in a non-threatening context.  Once the students learn what forgiveness is (and is not) and sees how story characters forgive, and the consequences of doing so, then they might be interested in trying to forgive. It is their choice.

And So He Is No Longer on This Earth

13-years old. Bullied in school. He hanged himself in the attic of his home. He left a note. Despair. Fury. The bullies tortured. The teachers did not understand.

And so we have yet another tragedy.

There is a solution to all of this, you know. I suppose I should be getting weary of saying this, but when I think of this dear boy, somehow the weariness does not materialize and so I will say it again:

When we help our children to forgive, we are providing a protection against fury, the kind of fury that attacks unrelentingly and then seeks its next victim. Forgiveness is a cure for fury. Forgiveness is a protection against a false despair that nothing can be done–an illusion that there is no way out. Forgiveness does not allow the illusion its day. 

To be sure that I am not misunderstood: I am not blaming the innocent for this death. I am not blaming parents or the child himself or the teachers or even those who bullied.  The intent of those who bullied (don’t you think?) was not to have a classmate no more on the earth.

We need forgiveness education as a way to help children navigate through others’ pain that gets all over the innocent. Forgiveness is an inoculation against this kind of pain that jumps from host to host seeking to create misery. We know pain exists, we know forgiveness is a protection on the innocent from the others’ pain, and we have ways of teaching forgiveness to others.

So, then, what is holding back the “yes” from educators to bring forgiveness into the classroom and into the hearts of students?

Robert

Is forgiveness only for those who believe in God?

Because forgiveness is a virtue, which is concerned about goodness, then it has similar qualities as justice or patience or kindness. Can someone who does not believe in God be patient? What about being fair? Can someone who does not believe in God practice the human qualities of justice and patience and kindness?

The answer seems to be an obvious yes. Therefore, it follows that those who do not believe in God can practice the virtue of forgiveness as well. Different belief systems will be more or less supportive of your forgiving and will have different practices and rituals for forgiving, and will challenge you to go more deeply into forgiving, but the action of forgiving itself is a human action and not one isolated to certain persons with certain beliefs.

Contrasting Power and Love

People who are hurt by others too often are hurt because someone is seeking power—-power over you. Forgiveness, in contrast, concerns love—-loving those who are not loving you. Below, from the book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness, are 11 contrasts between power over and love.

Power says, “Me first.” Love asks, “How may I serve you today?”

Power manipulates. Love builds up.

Power exhausts others. Love refreshes them.

Power is rarely happy in any true sense. Love understands happiness.

Power is highly rewarded in cultures that worship money. Love considers money to be a means to an end, not an end itself.

Power steps on others. Love is a bridge to others’ betterment.

Power wounds—even the one who exerts the power. Love binds up the wounds, even in the self.

Power is joyless even when it is in control. Love includes joy.

Power does not understand love. Love does understand power and is not impressed.

 

Power sees forgiveness as weakness and so, in rejecting forgiveness, resentments might remain. Love sees forgiveness as a strength and so works to eliminate resentment.

Power rarely lasts because it eventually turns inward, exhausting itself. Look at slavery in the United States, or the supposedly all-powerful “Thousand-Year Reich” of the Nazis, or even the presence of the Berlin Wall, intended to imprison thought, freedom, and persons . . . forever. Love endures even in the face of grave power against it.

Robert

Enright, Robert (2015-09-28). 8 Keys to Forgiveness (8 Keys to Mental Health) (pp. 99-100). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.