The Wisconsin State Journal newspaper has a regular column entitled, Know Your Madisonian. On Saturday, October 21,2023 Dr. Robert Enright was the featured guest in that column, which was a “top story, editor’s pick” that day. The reporter, David Wahlberg, stated that Dr. Enright’s basic approach to forgiveness in world conflict zones is that “forgiveness begins at home.” In other words, when groups have been in conflict for a long time, it is best not to start peace dialogues with forgiveness, but instead to first grow in this moral virtue by practicing forgiveness in the everyday annoyances of one’s own home and community. Because forgiveness is difficult and takes time, he recommends practice and then more practice first with loved ones in the give and take of family and local community life. This helps people to grow in the moral virtue of forgiveness. Once they become more “forgivingly fit,” then people may be more receptive to the idea of group-to-group forgiving. If both sides can bring a mature perspective of forgiveness to the peace table, then the dialogue is less likely to include wounded hearts that are filled with resentment or even hatred.
Zefat Academic College in Israel will be hosting the 2nd International Conference on Forgiveness next summer, July 9-11, 2024. The conference website describes the conference as an event where ‘scholars, experts, and practitioners in relevant fields’ will present and discuss the following themes:
- Forgiveness as a human experience
- Forgiving within an intra/intercultural context
- The forgiver and the forgiven relationship
- Being forgiven
- Forgiveness, justice, and the law
- Forgiveness – values, virtues, and ethics
- Forgiveness in religious, social, and political conflicts
- Religious and spiritual perspectives on forgiveness
One of the keynote speakers is Dr. Suzanne Freedman, longtime member of the International Forgiveness Institute team! She will be giving a presentation entitled ‘Guidelines for Forgiveness Therapy: What Therapists Need to Know to Help Their Clients Forgive.’
If you are interested in contributing to the 2nd International Conference on Forgiveness yourself, you are invited to submit your application to present a lecture at the upcoming conference. You may choose to submit one or more types of presentation:
- Individual presentations
- Pre-arranged panels
The Conference Organizing Committee is unable to process email submissions so please ensure that all applications are submitted between September 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024 via this Google Form link.
All submissions will undergo peer review. Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be sent by February 1, 2024.
For more information about the conference and the types of submissions, please visit the conference website.
For further information, you may also contact the conference organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Enright and the International Forgiveness Institute are one of the ‘Six Things Psychologists are Talking About’….
The American Psychological Association (APA) features a monthly column on their website entitled ‘Six Things Psychologists Are Talking About’ and in August of this year they featured a podcast interview with Dr. Enright on the healing power of forgiveness as one of the ‘six things’! The episode is entitled ‘The Power of Forgiving Those Who’ve Hurt You’ and features a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Enright as he shares what forgiveness is, how it can help people grow and heal in a variety of ways, and how the forgiveness education initiatives sponsored by the International Forgiveness Institute have impacted thousands of children and communities around the world. The podcast is roughly 30 minutes and is great to listen to while driving, taking a walk, or even folding laundry. 🙂
Enright shared the following in the podcast regarding what inspires him to keep doing the work of forgiveness education after 38 years:
What keeps me going is the passion for what we find. It has actually surprised me, the strength of the findings when people are gravely hurting psychologically, and are healed from, let’s say, major depressive disorder. And that gives me a hope, and the hope keeps me going, that we can indeed create a better world, one heart at a time. And so, I would say on the table as my wishlist, more insight that forgiveness education is worthwhile for children and adolescents. And, here’s a big one, community forgiveness. And we’re actually starting to work on that in different war-torn communities, especially in Africa.
We’ve been approached by four different communities in different geographic areas of Africa. Coming to us, saying, “Can you help us? We have had civil wars.” I just had a meeting this past week with someone from an African community who told me one million people, Kim, one million people have died in this century from the civil wars. And he said, “We need to bring forgiveness into communities, into individual hearts, families and communities, and then community to community.” But see, both communities have to be astute enough and motivated enough to become well-versed in forgiveness. And then, what will happen? I want to find out.
Be sure to check out the podcast to hear more about the power of forgiveness to bring healing to you, your loved ones, and the world!
Mary Lou Coons, who was recognized with a Partnership Achievement Award in December 2022 by the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), is a ventriloquist and the founder of Puppets for Peace. She has recently produced, together with her red-haired puppet Lily, video recordings of all the children’s books referenced and used in Dr. Enright’s Pre-K and Kindergarten IFI curriculum guides including:
- You Are My I Love You
- No Matter What
- Fill a Bucket
- I Love My New Toy
- A Birthday for Frances
- Papa, Do You Love Me?
- I Love You Stinky Face
- Little Fur Family
- It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny
- Will You Forgive Me?
- The Runaway Bunny
The videos, which range between roughly three to six minutes, include an introduction by Lily with Mary Lou reading the entire book, word for word. She also produced a 10-minute video recording of Dr. Enright’s Rising Above the Storm Clouds (part of the 4th-grade curriculum program), the only video version of the book available anywhere.
The IFI offers teachers and others who obtain curriculum guides a directory of online video recordings that can supplement the guides and be shown to students who are learning about forgiveness. We are extremely grateful to Mary Lou that we can now include her ‘Puppets for Peace’ videos as supplements for the Pre-K, K, and 4th-grade curriculum!
The Summer 2023 edition of On Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin’s magazine for communicating with alumni and the general public, features a full-length interview with Dr. Robert Enright, highlighting how he developed the study of forgiveness over his years in academia to contribute something of real value to people who are suffering.
Dr. Enright, International Forgiveness Institute co-founder, shares how an academic crisis led to his studying of forgiveness. As he is quoted in the article, he began to wrestle with the question, “What happens to people when they’re thrown to the mat of life by others being unfair? How do they get out of that?”
The article, entitled ‘Peace in the Wake of Pain’, goes on to share how Dr. Enright and his team have helped abused youth, prison inmates, and others who have experienced deep pain and anger discover healing and peace through entering into the process of forgiveness.
The On Wisconsin feature is a wonderful opportunity for many people to hear the good news about forgiveness and its potential for healing, peace, and restoration for individuals, families, and communities. Please share generously!
“Over the past 35 years, Enright and his colleagues have worked almost exclusively with people who have been deeply traumatized and are looking for a way out of their pain,” according to the article. “Enright says people who have suffered deeply for a long time — victims of domestic abuse, incest, and political violence, for example — are often the most likely to commit to the difficult process of forgiving the injustices done to them.”