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Podcast Series Focuses on How to Forgive

Tim Markle, a contributing writer and speaker for the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), has teamed up with Stoughton Health to create a series of informational podcasts on the basics of forgiveness. 

Markle is a multi-talented and versatile professional who says his two major aspirations in life are helping individuals with developmental disabilities and educating people about the benefits of forgiveness. The podcasts are part of the hospital’s Stoughton Health Talk series hosted by Melanie Cole. The ever-expanding program lineup featuring Markle includes:

  • Forgiving Yourself ( 10 min. 42 sec.) – “You’d be surprised at the number of people who come to my course on forgiveness and realize that the person that they have the most resentment against is themselves.” Markle says. “This is something so many people are struggling with.”
  • Swimming in Unforgiveness (17 min. 58 sec.) – Markle discusses resentment, anger, and forgiveness, and how the world encourages us to deal with it as opposed to how we should deal with it.
  • Preparing to Forgive (9 min. 20 sec.) – “One of the core parts of forgiving is that there has been a hurt, somebody has violated our concept of right or wrong. They have hurt us. There is an actual injury that has been done” according to Markle. “One of the steps in forgiving is admitting that and acknowledging it. And then, looking at how has that hurt changed my life?”
  • Doing the Work of Forgiveness (10 min. 54 sec.) – “How do you actually go about forgiving someone?” Markle asks. “Using Dr. Enright’s forgiveness model, we talk about the path you can take and actions you make to really forgive.”
  • The Art of Forgiveness (11 min. 15 sec.)  Research has shown that by forgiving someone who has deeply hurt you, you gain positive health benefits by letting go of resentment and the urge to seek revenge. In this podcast, Markle describes how forgiveness creates a higher quality of life, a healthier body, and a more positive attitude.

The Stoughton Health Talk Podcast series reflects the growing popularity of podcasts. According to Edison Research and Triton Digital, more than 104 million Americans listen to podcasts on at least a monthly basis. Stoughton Health is one of more than 100 leading hospitals and health systems using the DoctorPodcasting production system. The facility is located about 20 miles east of Madison, WI.

For the past 11 years, Markle has been an Outreach Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center. His current roles there include: 1) Director of the Southern Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs; 2) Family Discipline Coordinator for the WIsconsin Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities–the WI LEND Program; and, 3) Senior Outreach Specialist with the Youth Health Transition Initiative and Genetic Systems Integration Hub.

In those various capacities, Markle works to improve the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases, some of life’s most challenging conditions. He also develops curriculum for a variety of audiences, provides training for both children and adults, and is a prolific speaker.

Markle has a Masters in Counseling (MC) from John Carroll University  (a Jesuit Catholic University in Cleveland, OH) and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies (MACS) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School north of Chicago. He also studied at Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy.

As the capstone project for his MACS degree, Markle developed a six-week course that focused on how to forgive and why forgiveness is indispensable for dealing with anger, depression, anxiety and trauma.  The course is based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the IFI. Stoughton Health, along with two local churches, has thus far hosted five sessions of the course. Markle is also the founder of a forgiveness education organization called Forgiveness Factor.


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2020: A Record-Setting Year for Dr. Robert Enright and the International Forgiveness Institute

While “perseverance” and “grit” may  be apt descriptors for what turned out to be perhaps the most peculiar year in modern history, forgiveness researcher Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, has a different take on 2020: “Without question, it turned out to be our most productive year since I began studying forgiveness three decades ago.”

 

Scientific Research Studies:

To illustrate his point, the man Time magazine called “the forgiveness trailblazer,” rattled off the 11 scientifically-based manuscripts he and various team members completed and had published or accepted for publication during the year. Covering a wide range of cultural diversity, and encompassing studies in seven countries with both adult and child participants, those studies included (click title to read more):

Forgiveness Presentations:

In addition to his first love (scientific research on forgiveness, as evidenced by the list above), Dr. Enright developed and delivered targeted forgiveness presentations in the U.S. and around the world during 2020. His more noteworthy audiences included:

  • Staff and imprisoned people at Her Majesty’s Prison – Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Doctors and medical specialists attending an online conference on polyclonal immunoglobulins in patients with multiple myeloma – Bratislava, Slovakia. 
  • Pediatricians, oncologists, and cancer treatment specialists attending the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Educational Conference – Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Faculty and research associates at the Pan-European University – Bratislava, Slovakia.
  • School administrators and teachers – Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • Students and faculty of Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia.
  • Rotary Club members – Richmond, California.

Media Interviews, Podcasts, Video Productions:

As a highly-sought-after media personality, Dr. Enright’s 2020 media interviews included:

  • A 67-minute podcast hosted and broadcast by Dr. Alexandra Miller, a popular family relations psychologist, on Rehabilitating those who are ‘Forgotten’: People in Prison. The podcast was downloaded by individuals in 225 US cities and 22 foreign countries in just the first three weeks after it was recorded in July.
  • A multi-segment forgiveness video produced for Revolution Ventures, Bangalore, India.
  • A “therapeutic music-discussion video” with song-writer/performer Sam Ness that was produced for those struggling with anguish caused by COVID-19. The therapeutic video, called “How to Beat the Coronavirus Lockdown Blues,” was distributed worldwide through venues including YouTube.
  • A video interview at the International School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.
  • Interview for DER SPIEGEL/Spiegel online, a German weekly news magazine that has the largest circulation of any such publication in Europe.
  • Interview with author Aaron Hutchins for Maclean’sa current affairs magazine with 2.4 million readers based in Toronto,  Canada.
  • Interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH, Germany’s largest daily newspaper.
  • Podcast interview with Dr. Peter Miller, Sport and the Growing Good: 8 Keys to Forgiveness.
  • Live interview, The Drew Mariani Show (national), Relevant Radio.
  • Interview with Dr. Max Bonilla, International Director, Expanded Reason webinar, Madrid, Spain.

BLOGS AND MORE:

The activity doesn’t stop there. During 2020, Dr. Enright:

  • Authored 12 new forgiveness-related blogs for Psychology Today and 12 more for “Our Forgiveness Blog” on the International Forgiveness Institute website.
  • Provided written responses on the IFI website for 208 “Ask Dr. Forgiveness” questions.
  • Together with Jacqueline Song, IFI researcher and creator of the IFI’s Driver Safety Campaign, distributed more than 5,000 “Drive for Others’ Lives” bumper stickers requested by website visitors and funded by a grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation.

 

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Peace Education Goal: Emotional Healing for Individuals, Families, Communities

During his 30 years of studying the moral virtue of forgiveness, Dr. Robert Enright has become convinced that forgiveness is the missing piece to the peace puzzle. While recording major milestones in pursuit of that peace premise throughout his career, Dr. Enright is now complementing those extensive efforts by pursuing “peace education” initiatives designed to inform, inspire, and engage educators who are working to enhance peace efforts around the world. 

Peace education hopes to create in the human consciousness a commitment to the ways of peace. Just as a doctor learns in medical school how to minister to the sick, students in peace education classes learn how to solve problems caused by violence. Peace educators use teaching skills to stop violence by developing a peace consciousness that can provide the basis for a just and sustainable future.

As “the forgiveness trailblazer” (TIME magazine), Dr. Enright’s most recent peace education efforts include these three just-published studies:

An addition to peace education: Toward the process of a just and merciful community in schools

Published in the Aug. 6, 2020 issue of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology®, this qualitative research study with teachers in the US and China demonstrated that justice and mercy need to be partners in school disciplinary policy:

 “Peace education may be more complete if both justice and mercy are part of the disciplinary process of schools. Justice by itself, as a traditional method of discipline in schools, will not necessarily address the resentments that can build up in both those offended and those offending. Mercy offers a second chance and the recognition and acknowledgment that many carry emotional pain which must be addressed for thriving in the school setting.”

Authors: Lai Y. Wong, Linghua Jiang, Jichan J. Kim, Baoyu Zhang, Mary Jacqueline Song, Robert D. Enright.


A philosophical and psychological examination of “justice first”: Toward the need for both justice and forgiveness when conflict arises

Published in the April 16, 2020 issue of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology®, this study examined justice and forgiveness between communities in conflict:

“The idea of ‘justice first’ between communities in conflict may be insufficient and therefore is depriving people within communities of emotional healing through the exercise of forgiving. The concern here is with the build-up of resentment or unhealthy anger as justice is not realized, especially over a long period of time. Yet, this resentment, and the psychologically-negative effects of this resentment, can be substantially reduced through the practice of forgiving, which has empirically-verified evidence for reducing such anger and significantly improving mental health. Learning to forgive and to put forgiveness into practice can start, not across communities, but instead within one’s own family and community for emotional healing.”

Authors: Mary Jacqueline Song, Robert D. Enright.


Effectiveness of forgiveness education with adolescents in reducing anger and ethnic prejudice in Iran

Published in the August 24, 2020 issue of Journal of Educational Psychology, this study (along with other similar studies) demonstrates that forgiveness education can be an important means of reducing anger and ethnic prejudice in Eastern and Western cultures.

“This research investigated the effectiveness of a forgiveness education program on reducing anger and ethnic prejudice and improving forgiveness in Iranian adolescents. Participants included 224 male and female students (Persian, Azeri, and Kurdish) in 8th grade who were selected from 3 provinces: Tehran, Eastern Azerbaijan, and Kurdistan. The results indicated that the experimental group was higher in forgiveness and lower in ethnic prejudice, state anger, trait anger, and anger expression compared with the control group. This difference was statistically significant in the follow-up phase.”

Authors: Bagher Ghobari Bonab, Mohamad Khodayarifard, Ramin Hashemi Geshnigani, Behnaz Khoei, Fatimah Nosrati, Mary Jacqueline Song, Robert D. Enright.

NOTE: Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology® is a publication of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 48–Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology Division.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Fred McFeely Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers, was an American icon to generations of children–television host, producer, children’s television presenter, actor, puppeteer, singer, composer, author, educator, environmentalist, and Presbyterian minister. Most famously, he was the creator and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired nationally for more than 30 years (1968 – 2001) on public television.

The series was aimed primarily at preschool children ages 2 to 5 but was loved by television viewers of all ages because of the messages of love and wisdom liberally administered by its host. Fred Rogers believed and conveyed his conviction that every child has importance, every child has potential, and every child is deserving of love.

Without question, Fred Rogers (almost always clad in the signature zip-front red cardigan sweater knitted for him by his mother) was a champion of forgiveness. Here is some of what he said and believed:

“Forgive while you can. Forgiveness is so powerful but do it while you can because life is extremely short to just stay angry at someone.”
—–
Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”
—–
“The only thing evil can’t stand is forgiveness.”
—–
“Forgiveness is mandatory; reconciliation is optional.”

Fred Rogers  (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003)  pioneered the use of television to nurture and educate young children. His 30-year-long collaboration with child psychologist Margaret McFarland reinforced the strong universal values he delivered to untold millions of children who now make up much of the American public. His programs were critically acclaimed for focusing on children’s emotional and physical concerns, such as death, sibling rivalry, school enrollment, divorce, and compassion.

The values he integrated into all his activities included all of the five moral qualities most important to forgiving another person– inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity.

“Love seems to be something that keeps filling up within us.
The more we give away, the more we have to give.”
—–
“There’s no person in the whole world just like you,
and I like you just the way you are.”
—–
“You are special. It’s you I like.”
—–
“Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”

A shy, somewhat awkward, overweight, and sometimes bullied child growing up in the 1930s, Fred Rogers wasn’t comfortable at all with anger. Although he shied away from conflict, he also knew anger’s enormous power for good. Because of that, he wanted to help children to feel anger, to be willing to name it, to do something with it. Anger, he knew, when used well, can build entire neighborhoods of care. Interestingly, that’s the same sentiment that Dr. Robert Enright, forgiveness researcher and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, incorporates into his Forgiveness Therapy interventions.

Fred Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1962 with a Bachelor of Divinity and was ordained a minister of the United Presbyterian Church in 1963. He often commented that  his mission as an ordained minister, instead of being the pastor of a church, was to minister to children and their families through television. In carrying out that ministry, he left a legacy of love that reached millions of children and adults alike.


 “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time.”
Fred Rogers


Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood emphasized young children’s social and emotional needs, and unlike another very popular public television program, Sesame Street, did not focus on cognitive learning. Writer Kathy Merlock Jackson, author of two books about Fred Rogers, wrote,  “While both shows target the same preschool audience and prepare children for kindergarten, Sesame Street concentrates on school-readiness skills while Mister Rogers Neighborhood focuses on the child’s developing psyche and feelings and sense of moral and ethical reasoning.” 

President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award to Fred Rogers July 9, 2002. Photo by Paul Morse, George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Mister Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003 at age 74 leaving behind his wife of 50-years, Joanne, and two sons, James and John. For his body of work, he received virtually every major award in television and education including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian award in 2002. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999. The Smithsonian Institute has a permanent Fred Rogers exhibit that includes one of the red cardigan sweaters he wore on his TV show.

An amazingly productive educator and entertainer, Fred Rogers also:

  1. Recorded more than 300 videos that are available on the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood YouTube Channel including 13 videos on anger and forgiveness;
  2. Authored some 150 books and publications including “It’s You I Like,”  and
    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timeless treasure full of his own instructions for living your best, kindest life;
  3. Wrote more than 300 songs including one of his favorites “You Are Special”  that he regularly performed; and,
  4. Created a non-profit production company, now called Fred Rogers Productions that carries on his legacy in memoriam.

Fred Rogers was known for his creativity, kindness, spirituality, and commitment to the well-being of children. He used his many diverse talents to inspire, nurture, and educate. As TIME magazine lamented, “It’s sad that we no longer have Rogers, who died in 2003—but how lucky we were to have him at all.”


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A NEW STRATEGY FOR PEACE IN THE WORLD. . . THE ENRIGHT GROUP FORGIVENESS INVENTORY

A team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Enright has taken forgiveness from its traditional focus on individuals to a higher magnitude by concentrating on group forgiveness—an area of intervention that has dramatic implications for its ability to enhance peace efforts in the world.

Dr. Enright’s team, composed of 16 experienced researchers who collected data from 595 study participants in three different geographic and cultural settings of the world, developed and confirmed the veracity of a totally new measure of intergroup forgiveness—The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory (EGFI). Additionally, the team created and piloted a unique group administration process that operationalized the EGFI in a structured way.

“Our concept of intergroup forgiveness for this study was rooted in what groups, as opposed to the individuals who compose them, have the capacity to do,” says Dr. Enright, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. “The study supported the conclusion that this new measure had strong internal consistency, as well as convergent and discriminant validity.”

In other words, to paraphrase Dr. Enright’s synopsis of the EGFI, it works. That is the conclusion reached by Dr. Enright’s 16-member research team in their study report,  Measuring Intergroup Forgiveness: The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory. The study was published earlier this year in Peace and Conflict Studies Journal (Vol. 27, No. 1), as the lead article for that issue of the journal.

To realistically test the measure, the team selected  groups of people within countries that have historical conflicts that remain salient today. One group of participants was recruited from Asia with subsamples from Mainland China and from Taiwan. Another group of participants was recruited from Slovenia that contained subsamples from two different political parties with a history of violence toward each other. A third group of participants was recruited from the United States with subsamples that included a group of White Caucasian participants and a group of African American participants.

The new Inventory has 56 items across seven subscales and each subscale has eight items. Those subscales measure a group’s motivation and values regarding forgiveness, peace, and friendliness toward the other group. Similar to the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI)—developed in 1995 and now the worldwide measurement tool of choice for assessing one person’s forgiveness of another—the EGFI has five questions at the end of the scale that are intended to assess pseudo-group-forgiveness or false forgiveness.

For this study, the inventory was translated into Mandarin Chinese and Slovene by native speakers of each language. The Inventory was then administered and assessed with individual participants as well as with the designated groups of participants. That strategy allowed the project team to compare a group-based assessment of forgiveness with traditional self-report assessment of forgiveness.

That assessment was a crucial element of this latest study because the bulk of past research has simply extended measures of forgiveness between individuals to groups. In fact, Dr. Enright et al. produced a study in January 2015 (Journal of Peace Psychology) entitled “Examining Group Forgiveness: Conceptual and Empirical Issues” that  was one of the first to propose: 1) a benchmark definition of group forgiveness; and, 2) specific concepts for developing a group forgiveness measuring tool.

Incorporating that earlier work, the newly-developed EGFI scale of intergroup forgiveness is based on a definition of forgiveness between groups and is operationalized using group behaviors rather than individual cognition and emotion.

“Our findings suggest the EGFI is a reliable and valid measure of intergroup forgiveness,” the study group concludes in its final report. “This new measure can facilitate the work of peace advocates and researchers.” The study also indicates the Inventory could be used to:

  • Assess where and when to intervene with conflicting groups;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts;
  • Assess where groups have been unjust to one another and, therefore, where they could benefit from conflict reduction efforts;
  • Assess group forgiveness interventions;
  • Evaluate progress when groups go through interventions such as peace and reconciliation commissions;
  • Assess change in forgiveness from pre to post intervention; and,
  • Advance our understanding of effective interventions. 

Meet the Group Forgiveness Study Team:

  • Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin-Madison and International Forgiveness Institute
  • Julie Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Matthew Hirshberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John Klatt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Benjamin Boateng, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Preston Boggs, University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • Chelsea Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Peiying Wu, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Baoyu Zhang, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Fu Na, Beijing Normal University – Beijing, China
  • Mei Ling Shu, Beijing Normal University – Beijing China
  • Tomaz Erzar, University of Ljubljana – Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Tina Huang, National Chung-Cheng University – Taiwan (officially the Republic of China)
  • Tung-En Hsiao, National Chung-Cheng University – Taiwan
  • Chansoon (Danielle) Lee, National Council of State Boards of Nursing – Chicago, IL
  • Jacqueline Song, International Forgiveness Institute, Madison, WI (native of the Philippines)

 

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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR RESEARCH PROJECT

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