Are children as young as 6 years old really able to understand the concept of inherent worth? I notice that you introduce this idea as early as first grade (in the grading system of the USA).
When you teach children about inherent worth, a key is for you not to expect perfection in the children’s understanding. The point is to introduce the idea that all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable even if they differ in intelligence, athletic ability, or any other trait that is less important than personhood itself. Children are capable of grasping that we are all human and therefore are all special.
What We Recommend on Forgiveness Education for Bullying
Being bullied can be torturous. We need to be more aware of this silent torture that students undergo in being bullied. It is possible that if those who are bullied could forgive, then their well-being may be protected.
The International Forgiveness Institute, Inc. recommends two kinds of forgiveness interventions in schools:
1) For those who have been bullied in schools so that their anger will not turn to rage, depression, or even self-hatred. We were talking with a student from Korea and she related to us that there are many suicides in Korea by those who have been bullied in school.
2) For those who bully in school. These students usually have been treated cruelly by others (outside of school or in school) and this is one reason why they bully. If they can forgive those who have been deeply unjust to them, then their motivation to bully will reduce or be eliminated.
On Reversing Pessimism
When we are treated unjustly by others, we slowly can become more apathetic about everything. Consider this quotation from G.K. Chesterton on the matter:
“It matters very little whether a man is discontented in the name of pessimism or progress, if his discontent does in fact paralyse his power of appreciating what he has got.”
Forgiveness can reverse the apathy and the pessimism and increase our appreciation of situations and other people.
On page 174 of your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you write, “When people are angry, bitter, and self-absorbed, they cannot be creative and open to new experiences. They are bound by their limited paradigms.” This seems like an unhappy state in which to dwell. If I now see this and see the beauty of forgiveness, am I now obligated to help others whom I see as being in this state?
I think the answer will depend on your growth in understanding and appreciating the virtue of forgiveness. Have you so lived with forgiveness that you see it as vital within yourself? Is forgiveness now part of who you are as a person? Do you now think that you have a certain obligation to forgive others, not a grim obligation, but a joyous one?
If you answer yes to these questions, then I think you likely have within yourself an obligation to share what you know with others—-without force or condemnation toward those who are not ready for your message. As you started with forgiveness being a choice for you, it is a choice for others. Please see that and let people have their own free will as you make known what you see as the beauty of forgiving.
I am reading your book, “Forgiveness is a Choice,” and I am wondering… Does forgiveness apply in the case of a husband who is constantly mean and untrustworthy? The examples in the book seem to all be regarding a single past hurt, or an offense that occurred in the past. What about offenses that are ongoing but unrepented of and unresolved? I am Catholic, so I very much agree with forgiveness and starting over, etc. But I don’t know how to respond to unchanging behaviors that are sinful against me. Continual forgiveness?? Is it possible to not be resentful and bitter?
First, we have to realize that to forgive does not mean that you abandon the quest for justice. Forgive and from this place of diminished anger, let your husband know of your wounded heart and exactly why it is so wounded. He may reject your feelings at first, but this does not mean he will continually reject the truth.
You need to practice continual forgiveness, every day if you have the strong will for this. And pray about when it is the best time to once again ask for justice and even compassion from your husband. Was he deeply hurt as a child? If so, he may be displacing his anger onto you. Perhaps you both need to read Forgiveness Is a Choice…..together.