Tagged: “forgiveness is a choice”
In Memoriam: Anne Gallagher, Seeds of Hope
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of a true patriot for peace, Anne Gallagher of Dublin, Ireland (August 7, 2013).
Anne started the peace organization, Seeds of Hope, in Ireland as a way to counter the after-effects of The Troubles. Even though the peace accord was signed in 1998, hearts were still embittered by the struggles that began to erupt in early 1972 with Bloody Sunday. Some of Anne’s friends and relations took up combat and were part of paramilitary organizations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Anne, in contrast, sought dialogue as a way to peace.
Anne was instrumental in the International Forgiveness Institute’s transition to forgiveness education in Belfast. She tirelessly set up meetings with us at various schools such as Ligoniel, St. Vincent de Paul, and Mercy Primary School. Because of Anne’s endorsement of us, doors flew open and within about one month of trying, we were accepted into schools within the inter-face areas of the city (where contentious groups live segregated lives but in close proximity to one another)..
I recall vividly in 2003 sitting with three ex-combatants who wanted to know more about forgiveness education. They were unsure if it was a good idea. Anne set up the meeting. You see, we needed their permission to go into a particular school because some of the ex-combatants informally controlled their neighborhoods. One of them, battle-tested, said to me, “My son is in that school. Forgiveness will make him weak.” I swallowed hard and asked, “Do you want your son to grow up and live as you have?” He bowed his head and with love in his heart for his son said, “No.” It was then that he gave us permission to enter the school.
Anne was always close to danger like this. She did not care, even though some of her brothers were scared for her. Yet, she had a spark in her eyes and a conviction deep within that peace must be sought even if it meant putting oneself on the line at times.
Anne Gallagher represents peace in Ireland. We at the IFI will do our best to keep alive her vision for Seeds of Hope in each human heart. Peace be with you now, Anne.
Author’s Note: Read about the Northern Ireland Troubles, about Bloody Sunday, and about learning to forgive in the “Seeds of Hope Ex-Prisoners Think Tank Report” co-authored by Anne Gallagher (whose four brothers became involved in the Northern Ireland conflict and served long prison sentences, one being shot dead upon his release.)
— Anne Gallagher photo by Brian Moody
I am a mental health professional. Some people want a quicker fix than what your Process Model offers. Can you recommend a brief therapy instead?
Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, it is not possible to artificially push it into a traditional psychological set of techniques that might lead to quick forgiveness. If the injustice is serious against your client and the hurt deep within that client, then time and practice definitely are recommended. It will be worth the effort because we find that traditional psychological techniques are not a substitute for a true struggle to grow in this heroic moral virtue. A meta-analysis by Aktar and Barlow show statistically that longer periods of time in forgiving (12 and even more sessions) are more effective than short-term therapy of 4-6 sessions. Here is a reference to that meta-analysis:
Akhtar, S., & Barlow, J. (2018). Forgiveness therapy for the promotion of mental well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(1), 107-122.
Yes, there is a specific difference between the two. Magnanimity of heart first is centered within the person as an insight and a motivation to be good to the other. Giving the gift is a part of magnanimity of heart but is not the entire package. The giving of the gift is the concrete expression of the magnanimity.
Is indifference toward the person who hurt me considered something negative in the forgiveness process? I am feeling indifferent. In the past, the feeling was much more negative than this.
Indifference is not a moral virtue and so it is not what forgiveness is. Yet, feeling indifference may be a transition out of hatred. If you had deep anger or hatred and now you are indifferent toward the one who hurt you, then you are making progress in forgiving. There is more to your forgiveness journey than this. Why? It is because the one who hurt you is a person and all persons can be treated with kindness, respect, generosity, and even love. So, I urge you to stay on your important forgiveness journey. Please be encouraged because it seems that you are making progress.
Acknowledgement is insight only: I realize that I am in pain. Bearing the pain, in contrast, is an active approach of not only understanding that you are in pain but also taking an active role in standing up with the pain and deliberately committing to not passing it back to the one who hurt you or to not passing it onto unsuspecting others. So, one is passive in terms of not doing something about the pain (acknowledgement) and the other is active (bearing the pain).