From the pen of Patrick Wells, producer, director, video journalist:
“Formal Forgiveness Education, invented by Robert Enright, is the best idea the Human Race has had since Jesus preached Forgiveness.”
Many people on the planet continue to exist within a tribe, sect, gang, race or mentality, unable to overcome hatred or prejudice against another group. This frequently manifests itself as violence. Learning how to forgive may be the best and fastest way to end systemic negativity against “other peoples.”
The best opportunity we have is to treat forgiveness as a skill and teach it at an early age in our elementary schools. If we can convince our children of the power and importance of forgiveness, when they become adults they will certainly be able to make effective use of this vital skill.
“Forgiveness has the potential to transform our communities that have not known peace for decades and reshape our world.”
FIRST PUBLISHED IN WASHINGTONPOST.COM, 2010. READ THE FULL ARTICLE: “EMBRACING FORGIVENESS EDUCATION TO RESHAPE OUR WORLD.”
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.
In March of 2014, we posted a reflection here in which we encouraged you to grow in love as your legacy of 2014.
The challenge was this: Give love away as your legacy of 2014.
Our challenge to you now is this: Give love away as your legacy of 2015.
One way to start is by looking backward at one incident of 2015 so far. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague.
Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?
Can you list some specific, concrete ways in which you have chosen love over indifference? Love over annoyance? If so, what are those specifics and how are they loving? We ask because 2015 will be 50% over as we move through June. Have you engaged in 50% of all the loving responses that you will leave in this world this year?
Tempus fugit. If you have not yet deliberately left love in the world this year, there is time…..and the clock is ticking.
First, when you forgive yourself, you are both the offended one and the offender. And we rarely offend ourselves in isolation. Thus, you should go and make amends with those who also were offended by your actions. This includes asking for forgiveness, changing your behavior and making recompense where this is reasonable.
After that, as you turn your attention to forgiving yourself please keep this in mind—What you have been offering to others in forgiving them (gentleness, kindness, patience, respect, and moral love), you can and should offer to yourself.
Has the struggle with the injustice made you tired? Let us say that you have 10 points of energy to get through each day. How many of those points of energy do you use fighting (even subconsciously) the injustice as an internal struggle? Even if you are giving 1 or 2 points of your energy each day to this, it is too much and could be considered another wound for you.
When you consider the person and the situation now under consideration, do you see any changes in your life that were either a direct or indirect consequence of the person’s injustice? In what way did your life change that led to greater struggle for you? On our 0-to-10 scale, how great a change was there in your life as a result of the injustice? Let a 0 stand for no change whatsoever, a 5 stand for moderate change in your life, and a 10 stand for dramatic change in your life. Your answer will help you determine whether this is another wound for you. As you can see, the wounds from the original injustice have a way of accumulating and adding to your suffering.