Tagged: “Justice”

If I forgive my own child for misbehavior I am concerned that this is giving the wrong message. I might be creating a sense of entitlement for that child who now comes to expect forgiveness and so continues to misbehave.

As you forgive, be sure to included justice as well.  Yes, forgive when you are feeling resentful, but then ask something of the child so that correction occurs.  When you ask for fairness when you are less angry, then what you ask may be even more fair than if you ask when fuming with anger.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

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What if there is no justice in place to protect you?  Perhaps, it is a problem with justice not forgiveness, but do you still recommend forgiveness even if justice is not available to protect you?  Why or why not? 

Are you asking this?—What if the boss is obnoxious and you want to leave?  The old job with this boss is bad for you and there is no better job on the horizon.  Might forgiving the boss keep you in an unhealthy job?  I do not think that forgiveness is a weakness here.  You can forgive and then perhaps, with reduced anger, ask for a more just situation with the boss.  In this case, forgiveness may help you to seek fairness where, right now, justice does not exist.  Your trying to **create** a just situation, after you forgive, may be your protection.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

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As a follow-up question, let us suppose that children as young as 10-years-old have learned about forgiveness and want to practice it.  How can they go about forgiving a parent if that parent keeps offending?

This will depend on the severity of the injustice.  If there is abuse, it would be my hope that this will be discovered by professionals in the child’s school.  Such abuse often leads to observable effects in children such as inattention during schoolwork, aggressive acting out in school, poor grades, and anger or depressive mood.  The child needs justice along with forgiving.  The forgiving in this case likely would begin only after the child is in a safe place.  If the injustice is not so severe as to require a solution from outside the home, the child could start forgiving by: a) acknowledging anger.  This can be difficult because of loyalty to the parent; and b) seeing the inherent worth in people in general and then applying it to the parent.

Many children are very good at exclaiming: “That’s not fair” and if a child is schooled in the moral virtue of forgiveness, which includes schooling in fair treatment, this kind of proclamation, spoken from a forgiving heart, may aid parents in thinking through their own behavior.  This kind of pattern is not easy to solve and so, again, I recommend forgiveness education in schools to equip children with the tools for overcoming disappointments and anger caused by truly unfair treatment against them.

For additional information: Teaching Kids About Forgiveness.

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Would implementing IFI’s forgiveness therapy in Police Departments help with racism, police brutality, domestic violence and suicide in the police community? If so, how would IFI recommend police get forgiveness therapy into their departments?

All organizations are made up of imperfect people.  Therefore, any organization will have its share of unjust treatment by others outside the organization and toward people both outside that organization and within it.  Those organizations that have much more stress than others, such as the police and the military, probably could benefit from forgiveness workshops.  Why?  If people in these organizations are abused by others, learning to forgive can quell the anger so that the anger is not displaced onto others.  If people in the organizations abuse others, then the first step is to exercise the moral virtue of justice and make right that which was wrong.  Asking for forgiveness is delicate because those hurt by the injustice may need a time of anger or sadness and therefore are not necessarily ready to forgive.  Another step, once justice is restored, is learning to engage in self-forgiveness, which is important to avoid self-hatred.  We have given workshops to military organizations and to those in the criminal justice system, but not yet to any police organizations, only because we have not been asked yet.

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Humility as the Set-Aside Complement to Forgiving

On our Facebook page for the International Forgiveness Institute, I have posted in the past this idea: “Humility and forgiveness seem to be a team. It takes time to develop both.”

The point is to show that if we are to forgive well, we have to set aside our pride, our sense of self-righteousness, and realize that the one(s) who hurt us share a common humanity with us.  We all have inherent or built-in worth.  When we are humble, following Aristotle’s analysis of all moral virtues, we do not move toward the extremes of seeing ourselves as moral worms or as better than others because we are engaging in the practice of such an exalted virtue as humility.

Recently, I made a new friend, Kari Konkola, who holds a doctoral degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He specializes in the history of religion.  As I discussed my interest in forgiveness, he responded that it would be hard to forgive if excessive pride is getting in the way.  With a dominance of pride, self-righteous anger can push away the motivation to forgive.

Dr. Konkola further instructed me that humility, as a complement to forgiveness, was a central moral virtue in the Medieval period.  The point during these Middle Ages was to realize that each of us is no better than others precisely because we all fall short of moral perfection.  He went on to say that there has been a trend since the Medieval period in which humility as a valued moral virtue is in decline.  He sees humility as the ignored moral virtue in the modern West.

So, with this challenge in mind, that humility is in decline, I decided to do a little psychological experiment. I wrote an essay centered on humility on the Psychology Today website, where I have been blogging since September, 2017.  I posted the essay entitled, “Humility: What Can It Do for You” on April 27, 2020.  That was over three weeks ago and the number of views for this essay as of this writing on May 20 is 477.  In contrast, I posted an essay on the nine purposes of forgiveness less than a week ago and already the number of views is 2,027.  It is typical to see between 5,000 and 10,000 views for some of these essays focused on forgiveness, and yet the one on humility is languishing, as Dr. Konkola may have predicted.

Humility seems to be the set-aside moral virtue.  If so, then how can people forgive deeply if humility does not accompany the forgiving?  How will people even gravitate toward forgiving if pride blocks all consideration of forgiving?

What has happened in the West that has led to either a disinterest in humility or even an aversion to it?  Who had it right, those in the Medieval period or the modern West?  I’m not sure of the precise answers here, but I am convinced that we somehow have managed to de-value an important moral virtue, one that might need to team with forgiveness if forgiving others is to be achieved well.

Robert

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