Tagged: “Love”

Speed and Forgiveness

I will try to be brief.

Speed.  You can see it in the driving as the very rare few people actually adhere to the posted speed limit these days.

Speed.  You can see it as you watch people walking on the street, phone in hand, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.  I wonder how long the average person stays on one topic within that phone.

Speed.  Have you noticed the new trend on Facebook?: reels.  These are, what?, maybe 10 seconds each?  10 seconds to view a video…….

Speed.  Have you seen those commercials on the Internet, promising you weight loss at night as you sleep if you take a certain kind of pill?  At night?  With no exercise?  And immediate results?

Speed.  I have seen such statements as, “Forgive in 6 easy steps.”

Speed.  It is in contradiction to what it means to grow as a person.  To grow as a person is to slowly improve in the virtues, first identified by Plato as justice, or giving your best with your gifted qualities so that the community is better off and in harmony with others.  This takes time to develop your gifted qualities.  Forgiveness, as a moral virtue, is crafted with three things: practice, practice, practice.  It takes effort and time and struggle to be good to those who are not good to you.  It even takes time to deeply understand what forgiveness is and what it is not so that you do not confuse it with excusing wrongdoing or automatically reconciling or throwing justice under the bus.  There is no such thing as the forgiveness pill that will reduce resentment as you sleep.

Speed and forgiveness.  I have come to realize that they are not compatible and so I am concerned about the new norms of speed, shifting focus quickly, and a lack of required attention.  The new norms may be getting in the way of our forgiving well and therefore of living well with others.

I say in my classes at the university: Whenever you try to improve something, you always create a new problem.  Do not see only the improvement but also scrutinize the new problem to see if the new improvement is worth embracing.  We have quickened our world as we get to destinations faster by car,  as we see what presents our friend in a distant land got in the birthday party today, as we are entertained with a 10-second video……..but what is the problem created?  We are in danger of becoming way too superficial, way too unfocused, way too unchallenged, and miss perseverance, miss growing in the moral virtue of forgiveness, and miss the golden opportunity of growing in our humanity and in assisting others in such growth.

Speed has its place.  It just should not have primacy of place.

 

 

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A Reflection on the International Educational Conference on Agape Love and Forgiveness, Madison, Wisconsin, July 19-20, 2022

Main Point 1: Despite cross-cultural differences, forgiveness has a common meaning across historical time and across cultures.

Main Point 2: To my knowledge, there never has been a conference on agape and forgiveness before this one.

Main Point 3: It is time for modern culture to reawaken the ancient moral virtues of agape and forgiveness for the good of individuals, families, and communities.

After over a year of detailed preparation by Jacqueline Song and the dedicated team, the agape love and forgiveness conference is now history.  That history is preserved in the videos which have captured each talk presented at the conference (the videos are available here: Agape Love and Forgiveness Conference Videos).

I have at least three take-away points as I reflect on this conference:

  1. The cultural diversity was strong, with presentations by people from Israel, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United States. Despite the wide cultural differences, one thing was clear: The meaning of both agape and forgiveness do not change as we get on an airplane and visit cultures that are far away from one another. Instead, the core meaning of agape remains in that as a person loves in this way, it is for the other person(s) and the expression of this love can be challenging for the one who willingly offers it.  The core meaning of forgiveness remains as a person, unjustly treated by others, a) makes the free will decision to be good to those who acted unfairly, b) sees the inherent worth in those others, c) feels some compassion for them, d) willingly bears the pain on those others’ behalf, and e) offers goodness of some kind toward them.  Yes, those who forgive may not reach all five of these characteristics, but they remain the goal, that to which we want to strive if excellence in forgiveness is our end point.  Yes, there are important cultural nuances as one Islamic educator introduced forgiveness to the students with quotations from the Qu’ran and as an educator from a Christian school opened the New Testament to the students.  The rich diversity had a glue that bound all together—-the objective reality of what these two moral virtues mean across historical time and across cultures.  Objective meaning met cultural nuance at the conference.
  1. Unless I missed something in my travels with forgiveness over the past 37 years, I do not think there ever was an international conference that focused specifically on the moral virtues of agape and forgiveness. If this is true, why is it the case? What has happened within humanity so that these two key moral virtues, so prominent for example in Medieval times, would be characteristically ignored in educational contexts with children and academic contexts in university settings?  I think the transition from accepting objective truth about moral virtues (for example, justice is what it is no matter where we are in the world even when there are cultural nuances) has given way to an assumption that relativism is the new truth and so we all can choose the virtues we like and define them as we wish.  Do you see the contradiction in such a statement?  In the abandonment of objective reality that there is a truth, the new thinking is that relativism (in which there is no truth) is the new objective truth.  It is time to reintroduce communities to the moral virtues, which we all share as part of our humanity.  We need to know what these virtues are by definition and how we can give them away to others for their good, for our good, and for the good of communities.
  1. When I look across the globe at communities that have experienced conflict, that now carry the weight of the effects of decades and even centuries of conflict, I have come to the conclusion that a reawakening of the moral virtues of agape and forgiveness is vital if we are to heal from the effects of war and continued conflict with all of its mistrust and stereotyping of the human condition. Agape and forgiveness challenge us to see the personhood in everyone with whom we interact, even those who are cruel to us.  This does not mean that we cave in to injustices because the moral virtue of justice requires fairness from all.  The healing of hearts, families, communities, and nations will be better accomplished if people now can shake off the dust from agape and forgiveness, that have been so ignored in modernism, and find a new way with the old virtues.  It seems to me that agape and forgiveness, as a team, is a powerful combination for the healing of trauma for individuals and relationships.  I fear a continuation of the same old conflicts in hearts and in interactions if we do not go back and rediscover the life-giving virtues of agape love and forgiveness and bring them forward now in schools, families, houses of worship, and workplaces.

Robert

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A Reflection on the International Educational Conference on Agape Love and Forgiveness, Madison, Wisconsin, July 19-20, 2022

After over a year of detailed preparation by Jacqueline Song and the dedicated team, the agape love and forgiveness conference is now history.  That history is preserved in the videos which have captured each talk presented at the conference (the videos are available here: Agape Love and Forgiveness Conference Videos).

I have at least three take-away points as I reflect on this conference:

  1. The cultural diversity was strong, with presentations by people from Israel, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United States. Despite the wide cultural differences, one thing was clear: The meaning of both agape and forgiveness do not change as we get on an airplane and visit cultures that are far away from one another. Instead, the core meaning of agape remains in that as a person loves in this way, it is for the other person(s) and the expression of this love can be challenging for the one who willingly offers it.  The core meaning of forgiveness remains as a person, unjustly treated by others, a) makes the free will decision to be good to those who acted unfairly, b) sees the inherent worth in those others, c) feels some compassion for them, d) willingly bears the pain on those others’ behalf, and e) offers goodness of some kind toward them.  Yes, those who forgive may not reach all five of these characteristics, but they remain the goal, that to which we want to strive if excellence in forgiveness is our end point.  Yes, there are important cultural nuances as one Islamic educator introduced forgiveness to the students with quotations from the Qu’ran and as an educator from a Christian school opened the New Testament to the students.  The rich diversity had a glue that bound all together—-the objective reality of what these two moral virtues mean across historical time and across cultures.  Objective meaning met cultural nuance at the conference.
  1. Unless I missed something in my travels with forgiveness over the past 37 years, I do not think there ever was an international conference that focused specifically on the moral virtues of agape and forgiveness. If this is true, why is it the case? What has happened within humanity so that these two key moral virtues, so prominent for example in Medieval times, would be characteristically ignored in educational contexts with children and academic contexts in university settings?  I think the transition from accepting objective truth about moral virtues (for example, justice is what it is no matter where we are in the world even when there are cultural nuances) has given way to an assumption that relativism is the new truth and so we all can choose the virtues we like and define them as we wish.  Do you see the contradiction in such a statement?  In the abandonment of objective reality that there is a truth, the new thinking is that relativism (in which there is no truth) is the new objective truth.  It is time to reintroduce communities to the moral virtues, which we all share as part of our humanity.  We need to know what these virtues are by definition and how we can give them away to others for their good, for our good, and for the good of communities.
  1. When I look across the globe at communities that have experienced conflict, that now carry the weight of the effects of decades and even centuries of conflict, I have come to the conclusion that a reawakening of the moral virtues of agape and forgiveness is vital if we are to heal from the effects of war and continued conflict with all of its mistrust and stereotyping of the human condition. Agape and forgiveness challenge us to see the personhood in everyone with whom we interact, even those who are cruel to us.  This does not mean that we cave in to injustices because the moral virtue of justice requires fairness from all.  The healing of hearts, families, communities, and nations will be better accomplished if people now can shake off the dust from agape and forgiveness, that have been so ignored in modernism, and find a new way with the old virtues.  It seems to me that agape and forgiveness, as a team, is a powerful combination for the healing of trauma for individuals and relationships.  I fear a continuation of the same old conflicts in hearts and in interactions if we do not go back and rediscover the life-giving virtues of agape love and forgiveness and bring them forward now in schools, families, houses of worship, and workplaces.

Robert

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I seem to be lost on the forgiveness path.  I try and try, but I do not think I have made much progress in forgiving my partner and this has been going on for about a year.  Should I just get off the forgiveness path regarding my forgiving him?

Before you give up, I have some questions for you:

1) Have you committed to doing no harm to your partner, even in the context of your having the opportunity to somehow hurt him?  If you answered, “Yes, I have committed to doing no harm,” then you are not lost on the forgiveness journey.  This is a big step in the process;

2) Have you tried to see his weaknesses, his confusions, his wounds that may have wounded you?  If not, perhaps you need to do some of this cognitive work, to see him in a wider perspective than only his injuries toward you;

3)  Do you think that your will is strong enough to do the work outlined in #1 and 2 above?  If so, that work could lead to your forgiving if you give this time.

So, what do you think?  Have you found your way back onto the path of forgiveness?

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When I examine the effects of the injustice that happened to me, I get angry at myself for not realizing the connection all these years between what happened to me back then and my built-up anger and fatigue now.  Should I forgive myself for missing all of this?

We forgive ourselves when we do moral wrong, when we break our own standards.  It seems to me that you were not acting unjustly at all.  You simply did not know the connection between the past hurts against you and your challenges at present.  This is the case for very many people because forgiveness, current effects, and past trauma rarely are discussed in contemporary society.  I recommend that you practice gentleness toward yourself rather than forgive yourself.

After all, would you forgive yourself for not knowing other issues that are hidden from most people in society?  In the 1940’s for example, people did not have the precise knowledge of the connection between cigarette smoking and certain health problems.  Those people who were smoking back then were not saying to themselves, “The science shows that I am harming myself in very specific ways.  I will continue to smoke anyway.”  This would not have been the case for a very large part of the population.

It is similar now with the links among past trauma, current effects such as anger and fatigue, and forgiveness.  Not knowing is not necessarily an injustice and so I think you can go in peace……and start the forgiveness process now if you are ready.  In some cases, we deny reality and choose to not know what is good.  This issue is different from yours and this example would suggest that self-forgiveness would be appropriate as a person keeps pushing away what should be known as morally good.

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