Generalizing from the Particular to the Universal
You know how it goes. You go into a department store and have an unpleasant encounter with the person at checkout…..and you never go back there again. The particular incident has given you a bad feeling for the entire organization.
You break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and, at least for a while, you think that no one really can be trusted. This one relationship makes you mistrustful of such relationships in general.
Generalization. It can help us when the generalization is true and can distort reality for us when false. For example, when we touch poison ivy in one woods, it is wise to avoid it in the next….and the next. The effects of poison ivy generalize regardless of which plant we touch. On the other hand, one boyfriend’s bad behavior does not predict another person’s behavior. In this case, generalization closes down our mind and heart when there is no need for this.
When you are hurt by someone, you have to be careful not to generalize this to many, most, or all others. Not everyone is out to hurt you. Such generalization can form the unhealthy foundation for a world view that is pessimistic and inaccurate. Has this happened to you?
If so, it is time to fight back against this. Try saying the following to yourself as a way to break the habit of a false view of others:
I have been wounded by another person. For today, I will not let his/her wounds make me a bitter person who thinks negatively about people in general. I will overcome any tendency toward this by seeing others as having special worth, not because of what they have done, but in spite of this. We are all on this planet together; we are all wounded. Not all are out to wound me.
From your own experience, what is the most difficult part of the forgiveness process?
Our research tells us that the decision to forgive is the most difficult. I think it is because, for those who have rarely practiced forgiving, this is a large transition in their lives. They are walking through a door, the forgiveness door, that offers something new. Change can be difficult for many people and this change, in beginning to see an offending person in entirely new ways, can lead to doubt and even to a reworking of one’s own identity (Who am I now that I am starting to practice forgiveness?).
Why Our Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program Matters
“Bullying will not be tolerated in this school.”
“You are entering a no bullying zone.”
Consciousness raising is good precisely because it challenges each of us to be our best self, to do good for others.
Yet, sometimes some students are so emotionally wounded that their anger overwhelms the attempt at consciousness raising. The students are so very wounded that they cannot listen well. Some are so wounded that they refuse to listen. Even others are so mortally wounded that they find a certain pleasure in inflicting pain on others. It is when it gets to that point—others’ pain equals pleasure for the one inflicting it—that we have a stubborn problem on our hands. No signs, no consciousness raising, no rally in the gym, no pressure to be good is going to work…..because the gravely wounded student is now beyond listening.
Yet, we have found a hidden way to reverse the trend in those who are so hurting that they derive pain from hurting others. It is this: Ask the hurting students, those labeled so often as bullies, to tell their story of pain, their story of how others have abused them.
You will see this as the rule rather than the exception:
Those who inflict pain over and over have stories of abuse toward them that would make you weep. In fact, we have seen the weeping come from the one who has bullied others, the one who has inflicted serious pain onto others. He wept because, as he put it, “No one ever asked me for my story before.” His story was one of cruel child abuse from an alcoholic father who bruised him until he bled. And no one ever asked him about this. And so he struck out at others. Once he told his story, he began to forgive his father and his pain lessened and thus his need to inflict pain on others slowly melted away.This is what our Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program does. It aids counselors and teachers in bringing out the stories in the pain-inflictors so that their own pain dramatically decreases. As this happens, through forgiveness, bullying behavior is rendered powerless……because in examining their own hurt they finally realize how much hurt they have inflicted…..and with their own emotional pain gone, they have no desire to live life like this any more.
Come, take our anti-bullying curriculum and save the life of at least one child and help prevent inflicted pain on countless others.
Admired by Millions of People Around the World, Billy Graham was Ardent Forgiveness Advocate
The Washington Post, Montreat, NC – Just months away from his 100th birthday, William Franklin Graham Jr. (Billy Graham) died on Feb. 21 at his home in Montreat, NC. An American evangelist known to millions around the world, Graham was buried beside his wife Ruth who died in 2007. His casket was made by inmates of the Louisiana State Penitentiary where Graham often ministered to death-row inmates.
As a preacher, Graham consistently espoused a message of patience, love, respect, and forgiveness of others. He hosted large indoor and outdoor rallies for more than 60 years that he called “crusades.” Because of those crusades, Graham preached his message to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity. According to his website, Graham preached to live audiences of 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories.
“In these days of guilt complexes, perhaps the most glorious word in the English language is FORGIVENESS.”
Including radio and television broadcasts, Graham’s estimated lifetime audience tops 2.2 billion people world-wide. Graham was on Gallup’s list of most admired men 61 times, more than any man or woman in history. According to the book Billy Graham: American Pilgrim, “Billy
Graham stands among the most influential Christian leaders of the twentieth century. He belongs on the Mount Rushmore of greatness in American religion.”
For Graham, an important and often repeated part of his message was that “we need to have patience with others and their shortcomings. Don’t hold on to your bitterness and anger any longer — for they’ll become a poison to your soul.”
Here are some other forgiveness quotes made famous by Graham:
- “Forgiveness does not come easily to us, especially when someone we have trusted betrays our trust. And yet if we do not learn to forgive, we will discover that we can never really rebuild trust.”
- “Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.”
- “Every human being is under construction from conception to death.”
- “Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.”
The New York Times – Billy Graham, 99, Dies; Pastor Filled Stadiums and Counseled Presidents; Feb. 21, 2018
The Washington Post – How an aging Billy Graham approached his own death; Feb. 21, 2018
The Washington Post – Here are details for Billy Graham’s funeral: A viewing at the U.S. Capitol and a private service in N.C.; Feb. 22, 2018
NBC News – Billy Graham, evangelist pastor and counselor to presidents, dead at age 99; Feb. 21, 2018
Four Eye-Opening Reasons Why You Should Watch the Rome Forgiveness Conference Videos
Reason #1: To learn the importance of forgiveness education.
Dr. Robert Enright, IFI founder, first discusses what forgiveness education is and its importance for children and adolescents. Click here to watch Dr. Enright’s presentation on “The Science of Forgiveness.”.
Reason #2: To hear the surprising declarations made by a high-ranking Iraqi official about forgiveness in Islam.
The Iraqi Ambassador to the Vatican, Hon. Omer Ahmed Kerim Berzinji, said forgiveness plays a prominent role in his Muslim faith and that it is cited roughly 100 times in the Quran. (Click here to watch the opening part of his presentation, which includes a consecutive translation of his Arabic words. After this brief consecutive translation, the rest of the ambassador’s talk is in Arabic without the translation). The Hon. Berzinji expressed an interest in considering the implementation of forgiveness education in Iraq.
Reason #3: To hear for yourself the Orthodox Jewish speaker’s views on forgiveness.
Peta Pellach of the Elijah Interfaith Institute in Jerusalem gave an inspiring presentation of forgiveness in Judaism that is not to be missed. Click here to watch Ms. Pellach’s presentation.
Reason #4: To hear for yourself the Christian speaker’s views on forgiveness..
Monsignor Mariano Fazio, Vicar General of Opus Dei and a long-time personal friend of Pope Francis, discusses his views on forgiveness. Click here to watch Msgr. Fazio’s presentation. Author of more than 20 books, Msgr. Fazio’s newest book is titled Pope Francis: Keys to His Thought.