Tagged: “forgiving communities”
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Fred McFeely Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers, was an American icon to generations of children–television host, producer, children’s television presenter, actor, puppeteer, singer, composer, author, educator, environmentalist, and Presbyterian minister. Most famously, he was the creator and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired nationally for more than 30 years (1968 – 2001) on public television.
The series was aimed primarily at preschool children ages 2 to 5 but was loved by television viewers of all ages because of the messages of love and wisdom liberally administered by its host. Fred Rogers believed and conveyed his conviction that every child has importance, every child has potential, and every child is deserving of love.
Without question, Fred Rogers (almost always clad in the signature zip-front red cardigan sweater knitted for him by his mother) was a champion of forgiveness. Here is some of what he said and believed:
“Forgive while you can. Forgiveness is so powerful but do it while you can because life is extremely short to just stay angry at someone.”
“Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”
“The only thing evil can’t stand is forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness is mandatory; reconciliation is optional.”
Fred Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) pioneered the use of television to nurture and educate young children. His 30-year-long collaboration with child psychologist Margaret McFarland reinforced the strong universal values he delivered to untold millions of children who now make up much of the American public. His programs were critically acclaimed for focusing on children’s emotional and physical concerns, such as death, sibling rivalry, school enrollment, divorce, and compassion.
The values he integrated into all his activities included all of the five moral qualities most important to forgiving another person– inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity.
“Love seems to be something that keeps filling up within us.
The more we give away, the more we have to give.”
“There’s no person in the whole world just like you,
and I like you just the way you are.”
“You are special. It’s you I like.”
“Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”
A shy, somewhat awkward, overweight, and sometimes bullied child growing up in the 1930s, Fred Rogers wasn’t comfortable at all with anger. Although he shied away from conflict, he also knew anger’s enormous power for good. Because of that, he wanted to help children to feel anger, to be willing to name it, to do something with it. Anger, he knew, when used well, can build entire neighborhoods of care. Interestingly, that’s the same sentiment that Dr. Robert Enright, forgiveness researcher and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, incorporates into his Forgiveness Therapy interventions.
Fred Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1962 with a Bachelor of Divinity and was ordained a minister of the United Presbyterian Church in 1963. He often commented that his mission as an ordained minister, instead of being the pastor of a church, was to minister to children and their families through television. In carrying out that ministry, he left a legacy of love that reached millions of children and adults alike.
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time.”
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood emphasized young children’s social and emotional needs, and unlike another very popular public television program, Sesame Street, did not focus on cognitive learning. Writer Kathy Merlock Jackson, author of two books about Fred Rogers, wrote, “While both shows target the same preschool audience and prepare children for kindergarten, Sesame Street concentrates on school-readiness skills while Mister Rogers Neighborhood focuses on the child’s developing psyche and feelings and sense of moral and ethical reasoning.”
Mister Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003 at age 74 leaving behind his wife of 50-years, Joanne, and two sons, James and John. For his body of work, he received virtually every major award in television and education including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian award in 2002. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999. The Smithsonian Institute has a permanent Fred Rogers exhibit that includes one of the red cardigan sweaters he wore on his TV show.
An amazingly productive educator and entertainer, Fred Rogers also:
- Recorded more than 300 videos that are available on the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood YouTube Channel including 13 videos on anger and forgiveness;
- Authored some 150 books and publications including “It’s You I Like,” and
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timeless treasure full of his own instructions for living your best, kindest life;
- Wrote more than 300 songs including one of his favorites “You Are Special” that he regularly performed; and,
- Created a non-profit production company, now called Fred Rogers Productions that carries on his legacy in memoriam.
Fred Rogers was known for his creativity, kindness, spirituality, and commitment to the well-being of children. He used his many diverse talents to inspire, nurture, and educate. As TIME magazine lamented, “It’s sad that we no longer have Rogers, who died in 2003—but how lucky we were to have him at all.”
- Visit Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, the official site of the company he founded.
- Read reviews of The World According to Mister Rogers, a New York Times Bestseller.
- Watch the official trailer of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the top-grossing biographical documentary ever produced and named one of “The 10 Best Movies of 2018” by Time magazine.
- Review Thirteen Films That Highlight the Best in Humanity, a 2019 Greater Good movie list that names “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” as film of the year.
- Visit the The Neighborhood Archive, the most comprehensive website on everything Mr. Rogers including more than 18,000 memorabilia items like trading cards, hats, buttons and pins, mugs, posters, shirts, socks, stickers, toys and games, and more.
- Find out what Mister Rogers and Prince (pop/funk/R&B/rock music idol) have in common. Hint: They are both nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award in the Best Historical Album category.
- Order an iconic Mister Rogers Red Cardigan Sweater (“designed in the USA and handcrafted in Peru from warm, soft, and durable 100% pure alpaca wool yarn”) for only $194.99.
A NEW STRATEGY FOR PEACE IN THE WORLD. . . THE ENRIGHT GROUP FORGIVENESS INVENTORY
A team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Enright has taken forgiveness from its traditional focus on individuals to a higher magnitude by concentrating on group forgiveness—an area of intervention that has dramatic implications for its ability to enhance peace efforts in the world.
Dr. Enright’s team, composed of 16 experienced researchers who collected data from 595 study participants in three different geographic and cultural settings of the world, developed and confirmed the veracity of a totally new measure of intergroup forgiveness—The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory (EGFI). Additionally, the team created and piloted a unique group administration process that operationalized the EGFI in a structured way.
“Our concept of intergroup forgiveness for this study was rooted in what groups, as opposed to the individuals who compose them, have the capacity to do,” says Dr. Enright, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. “The study supported the conclusion that this new measure had strong internal consistency, as well as convergent and discriminant validity.”
In other words, to paraphrase Dr. Enright’s synopsis of the EGFI, it works. That is the conclusion reached by Dr. Enright’s 16-member research team in their study report, Measuring Intergroup Forgiveness: The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory. The study was published earlier this year in Peace and Conflict Studies Journal (Vol. 27, No. 1), as the lead article for that issue of the journal.
To realistically test the measure, the team selected groups of people within countries that have historical conflicts that remain salient today. One group of participants was recruited from Asia with subsamples from Mainland China and from Taiwan. Another group of participants was recruited from Slovenia that contained subsamples from two different political parties with a history of violence toward each other. A third group of participants was recruited from the United States with subsamples that included a group of White Caucasian participants and a group of African American participants.
The new Inventory has 56 items across seven subscales and each subscale has eight items. Those subscales measure a group’s motivation and values regarding forgiveness, peace, and friendliness toward the other group. Similar to the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI)—developed in 1995 and now the worldwide measurement tool of choice for assessing one person’s forgiveness of another—the EGFI has five questions at the end of the scale that are intended to assess pseudo-group-forgiveness or false forgiveness.
For this study, the inventory was translated into Mandarin Chinese and Slovene by native speakers of each language. The Inventory was then administered and assessed with individual participants as well as with the designated groups of participants. That strategy allowed the project team to compare a group-based assessment of forgiveness with traditional self-report assessment of forgiveness.
That assessment was a crucial element of this latest study because the bulk of past research has simply extended measures of forgiveness between individuals to groups. In fact, Dr. Enright et al. produced a study in January 2015 (Journal of Peace Psychology) entitled “Examining Group Forgiveness: Conceptual and Empirical Issues” that was one of the first to propose: 1) a benchmark definition of group forgiveness; and, 2) specific concepts for developing a group forgiveness measuring tool.
Incorporating that earlier work, the newly-developed EGFI scale of intergroup forgiveness is based on a definition of forgiveness between groups and is operationalized using group behaviors rather than individual cognition and emotion.
“Our findings suggest the EGFI is a reliable and valid measure of intergroup forgiveness,” the study group concludes in its final report. “This new measure can facilitate the work of peace advocates and researchers.” The study also indicates the Inventory could be used to:
- Assess where and when to intervene with conflicting groups;
- Evaluate the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts;
- Assess where groups have been unjust to one another and, therefore, where they could benefit from conflict reduction efforts;
- Assess group forgiveness interventions;
- Evaluate progress when groups go through interventions such as peace and reconciliation commissions;
- Assess change in forgiveness from pre to post intervention; and,
- Advance our understanding of effective interventions.
Meet the Group Forgiveness Study Team:
- Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin-Madison and International Forgiveness Institute
- Julie Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Matthew Hirshberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- John Klatt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Benjamin Boateng, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Preston Boggs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Chelsea Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Peiying Wu, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Baoyu Zhang, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Fu Na, Beijing Normal University – Beijing, China
- Mei Ling Shu, Beijing Normal University – Beijing China
- Tomaz Erzar, University of Ljubljana – Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Tina Huang, National Chung-Cheng University – Taiwan (officially the Republic of China)
- Tung-En Hsiao, National Chung-Cheng University – Taiwan
- Chansoon (Danielle) Lee, National Council of State Boards of Nursing – Chicago, IL
- Jacqueline Song, International Forgiveness Institute, Madison, WI (native of the Philippines)
My boyfriend, who is straining our relationship, keeps borrowing money from me, not paying it back, and then he proclaims that he is forgiving himself. He then continues in the same pattern. Is this really self-forgiveness? If so, I want none of it.
Your boyfriend actually is engaging in what we call false self-forgiveness or pseudo self-forgiveness. Genuine self-forgiveness includes remorse or sorrow for what was done, repentance toward those who are hurt, and a genuine change of behavior, as well as a welcoming the self back into the human community. You might want to point this out to him so that he can stop the denial of the hurtful behavior and possibly be open to change
New Manual for Mental Health Professionals Recommends Use of Enright Forgiveness Therapy
A hot-off-the-press instructional manual recommends that mental health professionals adopt and employ the Enright Process Model of Forgiveness when counseling individuals who profess Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian beliefs. Those two movements together make up about 27% of all Christians and more than 584 million people worldwide, according to the Pew Research Center.
The new book, Counseling and Psychotherapy with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians, was written by Geoffrey Sutton, a licensed psychologist and prolific author who has experience providing services to Christians from many traditions. Born in London, England, Sutton is a Professor of Psychology (Emeritus) at Evangel University in Springfield, MO, who has 14 books available on amazon.com.
“Clinicians would be advised to learn a specific approach such as the Enright Model. . .” Sutton recommends in his book. “Both of the major forgiveness intervention programs (Enright and REACH) are supported by scientific evidence of effectiveness.”
Sutton’s endorsement of the Enright Model of Forgiveness is actually a complete turnaround from his earlier positions on Christian counseling. For example, Sutton wrote a paper for the Christian Association for Psychological Studies that said a “well -articulated, comprehensive, and integrated approach to Christian counseling does not exist today.” That was at the organization’s 2015 annual meeting.
In his latest book, Sutton begins by providing an overview of religion, spirituality, and Christianity before focusing on the Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian movement that he traces back to the early 1900s. He then provides six chapters on patient assessment, counseling techniques, and interventions with special emphasis on the forgiveness interventions he now embraces because he believes they are adequately supported by empirical evidence.
“For committed Christians, spiritual identity is a substantial component of the self,” Sutton writes. “The purpose of this book is to help mental health professionals increase their cultural competence to better serve Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians who are congregants in the world’s fastest-growing religious movement.”
- Christian Movements and Denominations Defined
- Read selected portions of Sutton’s new book
- Pentecostal Cultures: Classic, Evangelical, Progressive, Renewal – Geoffrey Sutton Slide Presentation
The Common Good of Communities and the Need for Forgiveness: A View from Classical Greek Philosophy
A community is a single, whole entity, with a common purpose, made up of persons, each of whom is a single, whole entity (Maritain, 1994). A community is not simply the sum total of the individuals in the community (a nominalist view). Think of a symphonic community of musicians. There is a harmony of persons performing different activities and with different talents in the orchestra. The group transcends any given part of the group (Wild, 1948). A symphony orchestra is more than the violin section only. Communities differ in their norms, beliefs, and actions (what Aristotle calls accidents).
Aristotelian realist philosophy states that communities have a common good (Aristotle, 1999/340 B.C.). A common good is defined by Plato (2015/330 B.C.) in The Republic as persons growing in the Cardinal Virtues of justice, courage, wisdom, and temperance with these emphasized within the group. These four virtues, in Plato’s view, are not generated by opinion or feelings, but they naturally apply to all persons and all communities. These are understood by reason and chosen by the free will of each person. In other words, the Cardinal Virtues are not forced upon us.
Let us, then, define these Cardinal Virtues: 1) Justice is offering one’s best to others and the community. Kreeft (1992, p. 60) describes Platonic justice through the poetic image of music: one strives to be in harmony with others as all cooperate and play a beautiful societal tune. This is the central virtue according to Plato in The Republic.
is going ahead despite fear so that one can do one’s best even when it is difficult to do so. 3) Wisdom is knowing the right response at the right time without having a rule-book nearby. 4) Temperance is balance, avoiding too much or too little in all we do, including practicing the virtues, in pleasure seeking, and work. In Book IV of his Republic, Plato (2015/330 B.C.) defends the view that all four of these Cardinal Virtues, together, help to mature individuals and to have a well-functioning community in which the greater good then benefits all.
As Wild (1948, p. 185) clarifies, the goal of the common good is human perfection for all in the community. The common good of the community, which includes the good of each person, is considered higher than the individual good. In other words, individuals can be in service to one another for the good of the other person and the good of the group.
Now, and importantly for how forgiveness fits into the common good of the community, when people are treated unjustly by others, anger can ensue, which can develop into irritability (Stringaris, Vidal-Ribas, Brotman, & Leibenluft, 2017) and even to hatred. Forgiving those who are unjust, then, can first reduce the anger, which in turn can reduce the desire for excessive recompense (in the case of justice), and the desire for reckless bravado (in the case of courage). Without hatred, temperance can be restored, and the clear, rational thinking of wisdom can once again be present. If the common good is to be just, to work in harmony with others, then forgiveness can keep justice in balance, by first reducing toxic anger, and thus preserving the central Cardinal Virtue (justice) in communities. If this is true, then forgiveness needs to play a central part in the common good of communities.
If this is true, then forgiveness needs to be fostered in individuals, families, schools, workplaces, and places of worship……now.
- Aristotle. (1999/340 B.C.). Nicomachean ethics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Kreeft, P. (1992). Back to virtue. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
- Maritan, J. (1994). The person and the common good. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
- Plato, translated by B. Jowett (2015/approximately 330 BC). The complete works of Plato/ the republic. Hastings, East Sussex, United Kingdom: Delphi Classics.
- Stringaris, A., Vidal-Ribas, P., Brotman, M.A., & Leibenluft, E. (2017). Practitioner review: Definition, recognition, and treatment challenges of irritability in young people. Journal of Child Psychology, 59, 721-739.
- Wild, J. (1948). Introduction to realistic philosophy. New York: Harper & Row.