Author Archive: directorifi

We Must Treat the Cause and Not Only the Symptoms of Bullying

Well-meaning people are making progress in confronting the student-bullying problem across the world…..and yet most of these professionals are not looking closely enough at the real problem to find the best solution.

Here is one example: An educator encourages the bullied students to find ways to calmly stand their ground when being bullied. This can be a way of diffusing the bullying behavior. It seems to work at least in the short-term, but the one bullying could start the mayhem all over again in the next week or two.

Here is a second example: A graduate student finished a masterful review of the bullying literature in the psychological sciences. She reported that a key research topic presently is to examine the coping strategies of those being bullied. Those who seek social support from friends and teachers cope better with the effects of bullying than do those victims who cry.

Help the victim, yes, but what about those who bully? How can we help them and what help do they need?

We suggest the untried—untried—theme that may seem counter-intuitive today, but will appear obvious to many in the future: Yes, help the victim, but also help the one who is bullying to get rid of his or her anger, which is fueling the bullying.

Those who bully have been victimized by others. Help them to reduce their resentment toward those who were the victimizers and the bullying behavior will melt away. Why? Because wanting to harm others comes out of a position of profound woundedness within. Angry people are wounded people and angry, wounded people are the ones who lash out at others, even when these “others” did nothing whatsoever to provoke the verbal or physical attack.

We point principals, teachers, and parents to our anti-bullying forgiveness program intended to melt that anger in the one who bullies…..so that victims are no longer victims…..because the one bullying has no need any more to throw his wounds onto others. Forgiveness heals those wounds.

Who is ready to give this a try?

Robert

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A Thought Experiment for You: A World Without Forgiveness and Mercy

It is the year 2525 and somehow the word “forgiveness” has been dropped from the vocabulary of every person on the planet.  The word “mercy” was dropped long before that.  Justice first, justice last, justice foremost is the unchallenged thought of all.  If justice gets a bit out of hand, that is just collateral damage to be corrected some time in the future so we can all move on with our business now.

If someone steals because he was hungry, then he knew the rules. Punish him.

If an adolescent is too depressed to study, then she knew the rules and so fail her.  Trying to understand her or to sympathize with her is to let her off too easily.  What if we let off others, too, who are anxious or abused or troubled?  There would be chaos.

Rules are rules and as we know rules prevent chaos and lead to an orderly society.  We want a clean, sanitized community and taking time to heal people’s emotional wounds can be so messy.  And besides, there is no rule in our rule book that says we are obligated to clean up the messiness of sadness or loneliness or alienation.  One person’s loneliness is another person’s blissful, refreshing solitude.

If you are kind to those who are not kind to you, then you are weak and are letting that person walk all over you.  Be strong.  Walk away.  You will never regret it.

Pass by that child on the street who just ran away from a father who abused her.  She might cry and disrupt those who are on their way to important meetings to make the world better.  She will get over it.

The crying infant can wait.  We have to teach it—it—to delay gratification.

You don’t agree with me?  I have a committee that does agree and you will be hearing from them in due course.  It will be better for you if you adjust to the right way of thinking so we just can all get along.

So, how are you liking the world without forgiveness and mercy so far?  What will you do to plant a bit more of forgiveness and mercy into the world…….today?

Robert

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Some Auschwitz Survivors Disagree with Eva Mozes Kor

The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland – The court trial for a former Nazi concentration camp guard has triggered an emotional battle among Holocaust survivors over whether they can – or should – forgive their tormentors.

Former SS Sgt. Oskar Groening is being tried in Germany as an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz. (See the Forgiveness News article immediately below this one dated 4/28/15 for more on the 93-year-old Groening’s trial.)

Now 81-year-old Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who was subjected to horrific experiments at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by camp doctor Josef Mengeleis, is being critized after publicly forgiving Gröening for his role in the crimes against her family.

Other concentration camp survivors (co-plaintiffs in the trial) have attacked Kor for staging a “one- woman rehabilitation” show.

“Being a co-plaintiff in the name of the murdered while using this role for public and personal forgiveness – that doesn’t fit together,” they said in a statement. “We cannot forgive Mr Gröening for his participation in the murder of our relatives.”

Kor, however, is unrepentant. She says her show of forgiveness is a gesture of respect to Holocaust victims and has given her inner peace.

“Even if every Nazi was hanged for their crimes, my life would be the same,” she said. “But if we give each other the hand as humans – good, bad and indifferent – then something can happen.”

Kor added, “I’m a survivor, not a victim. Fostering victimhood doesn’t help victims and society shouldn’t encourage it. We cannot heal victims by continuing victimhood, but by encouraging forgiveness.”

Read the full story: “Auschwitz survivors row over forgiveness”

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Why do you think that societies have not discussed forgiveness in an open and large-group way? I have never seen a discussion of this as I have, for example, about such important issues as the death penalty, abortion, and other issues that have direct implications for the overall quality of life.

I, too, am puzzled by the silence over centuries regarding a thoroughgoing discussion of forgiveness in any society in the world.  Has it just been off the radar of leaders?  Have the burdens of justice and injustice been so large that mercy has been left by the side of the road?  It could be that leaders historically have considered forgiveness to be part of religion and so have compartmentalized it there.  Now that forgiveness has made its way into philosophy, psychology, law, medicine, and education, it seems to me that it is time for leaders to encourage a discussion of forgiveness in families, in schools, and between groups and countries that experience conflict.  The world would be a better place with forgiveness growing up alongside justice in many communities, societies, and countries.

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“Forgiveness Is Unfair Because It Puts the Burden of Change onto the Victim”

I heard this statement from a person who holds a considerable degree of academic influence.  The learned scholar, however, did not give a learned response as I will show in this little essay.

Suppose that Brian is driving his car and is hit by a drunk driver.  Brian’s leg is broken and he must undergo surgery and subsequent rehabilitation therapy if he again will have the full use of his leg.  What happened to him was unjust and now the burden of getting back a normal leg falls to him.  He has to get the leg examined, say yes to the surgery, to the post-surgical recovery, and to months of painful rehab.  The “burden of change” specifically when it comes to his leg is his and his alone.

Yes, the other driver will have to bear the burden of paying damages, but this has no bearing on restoring a badly broken leg.  Paying for such rehabilitation is entirely different from doing the challenging rehab work itself.

Suppose now that Brian takes the learned academic’s statement above to heart.  Suppose that he now expects the other driver to somehow bear the burden of doing the rehab.  How will that go?  The other driver cannot lift Brian’s leg for him or bear the physical pain of walking and then running.  Is this then unfair to Brian?  Should we expect him to lie down and not rehab because, well, he has a burden of restoring his own leg?  It would seem absurd to presume so.

Is it any different with injustice requiring the surgery and rehab of the heart?  If Melissa was unfairly treated by her partner, is it unfair for Melissa to do the hard work of forgiveness?  She is the one whose heart is hurting.  The partner cannot fix the sadness or confusion or anger……even if he repents.  Repentance will not automatically lead to a restored heart because trust must be earned little by little.  As Melissa learns to trust, she still will need the heart-rehab of forgiveness (struggling to get rid of toxic anger and struggling to see the worth in one who saw no worth in her) that only she can do.  Once hurt by another, it is the victim who must bear the burden of the change-of-heart.

We must remember: The rehab and recovery are temporary.  If the forgiver refuses to engage in such recovery, then the injurer wins twice: once in the initial hurt and a second time when the injured refuses to change because of a woeful misunderstanding that he or she must passively wait for someone else to bear the burden of change for him or her.

Ideas have consequences.  Bad ideas tend to have bad consequences.  Learned academics are not necessarily learned in all subjects across all cases.

Robert

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