Tagged: “good will”
My motivation to forgive is to be free of anger. Is this a legitimate motive for forgiveness? I ask because, if forgiveness is a moral virtue, shouldn’t my motivation be for the good of the other person who hurt me?
You are correct that as a virtue, forgiveness needs to be for the other. Yet, it takes time to develop a motivation of goodwill toward someone who was cruel. There is nothing dishonorable about having, as one’s initial motivation, a desire for self-preservation. To use a physical analogy, if your knee is hurting, is it selfish to seek medical help? If our heart is broken, is it selfish to try to mend that broken heart? An initial focus on self that changes to a concern for the other is a typical pathway for growing in the virtue of forgiveness.
How can we keep forgiveness initiatives going in schools and social groups, such as correctional institutions?
Starting forgiveness is not so bad, but continuing with it is rough. I kind of want to move on to other things in my life. So, how do I persevere to the end and complete forgiveness without giving up?
In the book, The Forgiving Life, I talk about the good will, the free will, and the strong will. The good will allows you to see those who hurt you in all of their woundedness and to respond to them with kindness. The free will allows you to say “yes” to the forgiveness process itself. The strong will allows you to keep going even though it is difficult.
Try to be aware of the strong will. Cultivate it in other areas even apart from forgiveness. For example, stay with the challenge of an exercise program; finish the book you started; complete a home-project that you started a while back. These efforts can strengthen the strong will which can advance you toward the finish line of forgiveness. Please keep in mind that even when you reach that finish line of forgiveness, anger can resurface later. Apply the good will, the free will, and the strong will again as you revisit the forgiveness process.
For additional information, see On the Importance of Perseverance when Forgiving.