Tagged: “Enright Forgiveness Process Model”

I hope I am not pressing my point too hard, but you have a book entitled, FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE.  If I choose to forgive the COVID virus because it lowers my anger, then it is my choice, right?

Choosing through your own thinking and will to forgive a virus does not mean that you actually are engaging in what forgiveness is in its essence.  As an analogy, if a person thinks that eating snow is a good choice for excellent nutrition because it is organic and so has an exclusive diet of snow for 6 months, would this be an example of good nutrition even if the snow-eater insists that it is?  There is a very large difference between what forgiveness is and what some people think it is.  From your ideas, I do think you are misunderstanding what forgiveness is even though you are using that word.

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So, are you saying that forgiveness is something “fixed” that does not change?  What about cultural variations of many kinds that center on different beliefs and customs.  You seem to be too inflexible in how you view forgiveness.

Forgiveness does have a fixed essence.  It is one thing and not whatever people’s subjective impressions are regarding it.  To forgive is to try as best one can to be good to those who are not good to the forgiver.  There are cultural variations in how this goodness is expressed, but the essence of forgiveness is not changed by these different customs or norms.

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So, in your view, one’s subjective views of forgiveness are unimportant.  You seem to discount personal opinion.

Subjective views need to be scrutinized relative to what is true about the concept of forgiveness or about many issues in the world.  For example, if a person insists that 1 + 1 = 5, should we take that as this person’s truth?  I think this would be an act of disrespect for the person as we are not aiding this person to properly know mathematics.

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To be sure that I understand you, are you saying that all subjective experiences of forgiveness are irrelevant. Do I understand you correctly?

Actually, no.  Subjective views of forgiveness are very important.  How a person is feeling needs to be honored, especially when that person is in much pain over what happened.  Each person’s subjective experience may be somewhat different in terms of intensity, duration, and kind of emotion experienced when treated badly by others.  Yet, if this person now wants to go on a forgiveness path, it is very important that this person understands what forgiveness is and is not so that a wrong path is not chosen.  As an example, if someone equates forgiving with summarily dismissing another person as less than human, and nurtures hatred within, this person’s subjective experience will need correction to get on the right forgiveness path.

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Agape Love: “A Sense of Joy in the Giving”

The first phase of a multi-million-dollar, multi-year forgiveness research project in three culturally distinct regions of the world is providing clarity to an ancient concept that researchers say could bring psychological health to individuals as well as peace and unity to families, communities, and countries.

“Agape love is an under-researched concept that has significant implications for harmonious relationships and good mental health,” according to forgiveness pioneer Dr. Robert Enright, an educational psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI). “The goal of this project is to define what agape love is and is not, and to develop accurate measures of agape so we can assess the degree to which a person understands and practices it.”

 

That 3-year research project is focused on incorporating agape love fundamentals with Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Education Curriculum materials for grade school students. Working with 60 teachers and up to 1,200 elementary students in Northern Ireland, Israel (both Arabic- and Hebrew-speaking schools), and Taiwan, the research is being funded by the John Templeton Foundation which has been supporting research on forgiveness for more than 20 years.

Agape love is a concept found in at least eight world religions and dates back to the work of three Greek philosophers:

  • Socrates (470 BC – 399 BC), who was among the first moral philosophers to espouse the theory of virtue ethics;
  • Plato (428 BC – 347 BC), a student of Socrates who is the namesake of Platonic love; and,
  • Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), a student of Plato, who is called “the father of psychology.”

The influence of those three philosophers continued well into the 19th century, helped shape much of Western moral philosophy, and gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics in the late 1950s. This “Aristotelian philosophical view of virtue ethics” was used by Dr. Enright’s initial research team (composed of UW-Madison and IFI researchers) to develop its definition of agape love:

“Agape love is a moral virtue in which a person willingly and unconditionally offers goodness, at a cost to the giver, to another or others in need.”

To further explain, the team added:

“There is a giving of the self to the other(s) that is: a) understood, b) motivated c) willed, and d) acted upon toward other people in such a way that the actions cost the one expressing that love. Because so much is given in agape, it follows that something is taken away from the one who engages in this form of love and such taking away might be needed energy, needed material possessions, needed comfort, and/or even needed safety. Yet, there is a paradox to agape: In the giving, there is psychological gain for the giver, including a sense of joy in the giving.”

That definition was the key element in the research team’s initial report called “The Philosophy and Social Science of Agape Love.” It was published this month in the latest issue of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, a quarterly publication of the American Psychological Association (APA).

In addition to examining the true meaning of agape love, the research report explores the characteristics of a moral virtue and delineates both the commonalities and significant differences between agape and other forms of love. It also provides an in-depth critique of existing social scientific love scales in preparation for a phase-two activity that will result in the development of a specific psychological agape love scale that is statistically reliable and valid and that has cross-cultural validity.

“Agape love is worth studying because, as a moral virtue, it challenges people to strive for betterment in their humanity,” the report concludes. “Agape requires heroic commitment to the betterment of others. As such, agape may aid humanity in reaching its highest level when people begin to deliberately, consciously, and willingly cultivate this moral virtue.”

The content of the agape and forgiveness curriculum across the three world zones will be described by the teachers themselves during the International Educational Conference on Agape Love and Forgiveness being held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on July 19-20, 2022. Additional information about agape love and the conference is available at the                Agape Love and Forgiveness website.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle

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