Tagged: “moral virtue”

Is the essence of forgiveness to reduce anger?

While reducing anger is an important part of forgiveness (the deliberate choice to get rid of resentment), there is more to forgiveness than this, particularly the growing in the moral virtue of agape love, or that kind of love that is in service to others even though such service can be difficult and even painful for the one who forgives.

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Can and Should Anyone Ever Forgive Those Who Perpetrate Genocide?

I have been studying forgiveness for the past 36 years and this questions keeps coming up. To me, this means that it is a vital question as well as one filled with emotion for those who ask. Given that we have worked in contentious world zones now for two decades, I have learned that the answer is important and can be contentious.

So, here are my views:

Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, as are justice, patience, kindness, and love, it should be seen as similar to all other moral virtues. Is there ever a case that a person would say to another, “You must not ever be fair or just in situation X for this reason…….”? This likely would never seem correct to anyone because we all have the freedom of our will to be fair whenever we want to enact justice. To prevent a person who is intent on fairness would seem unfair.

I think it is the same with regard to forgiveness under any circumstance. If the potential-forgiver has thought about the situation, determines it was unfair, and willingly chooses to forgive, then it is that person’s free will choice to do so.

Yes, others may look on with disgust or confusion because of another person’s decision to forgive, especially in the grave issue of genocide, but again, we have to fall back onto the quality of forgiveness, what it is in its essence: Forgiveness is the free will decision to be good to those who have not been good to the forgiver. In doing so, the forgiver never distorts the injustice by saying, “It’s ok what happened.” No. What happened was wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong. Forgiveness now is a response to the other person or persons who perpetrated this wrongdoing. The potential-forgiver can and should fight for justice even when forgiving. Forgiveness should not cancel this quest for fairness and safety. In fact, forgiving may help a person to reduce hatred which can consume one’s energy and well-being. The forgiving, there, might free the unjustly-treated person to strive with more vigor for fairness. 

In the final analysis, some people do decide to forgive those who perpetrated genocide. This is the free-will decision of the person and if this is done rationally then it is good because the appropriation of true moral virtues in a rational way is good by definition. When there is a philosophical distortion of forgiveness, such as engaging in the vice of cowardliness in which the false-forgiveness allows the unjust and powerful others to dominate people, then this is not forgiveness at all. It is a masquerade of forgiveness. Yet, true forgiveness, that does not back down, is a moral virtue whether or not others looking on judge it to be this or not.

At the same time, some people will decide not to forgive others who perpetrated genocide. This, too, is the person’s free will decision and those looking on, as in the case above, might best handle this situation by realizing that people have a difference of opinion at present on this moral dilemma of forgiving under the most trying of circumstances.

Can and should a person forgive those who perpetrate genocide? Yes, some can and should if they have good reasons to do so. Should all then forgive? No, because this suggests control over a person’s own private decision, which should be left to the one who experienced the trauma.

Robert



 

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Free on YouTube – Watch Dr. Robert Enright’s Greek Forgiveness Education Presentation

In case you missed it, you can now watch Dr. Robert Enright’s presentation during yesterday’s (Feb. 4) Greek Forgiveness Education webinar, on YouTube–for free. Details about the webinar can be found in the article posted immediately below this one.

The unique webinar was broadcast live via Zoom video conferencing from Greece. More than 4,500 individuals participated in the webinar or have watched the YouTube video since it was posted.

Dr. Enright, Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) was the featured presenter for the webinar. His topic, “The Healing Value of Forgiveness from the Aristotelian Philosophical Perspective,” has special significance in Greece because Greek philosophers like Aristotle not only helped shape the world some twenty centuries ago, but they are still very much alive in the principles underlying what is being taught in the country today.

“I have been relying on Aristotle for 35 years,” Dr. Enright said in his opening remarks during the webinar–the same length of time he has been studying the “moral virtue” (Aristotle’s term) of forgiveness. “The English translation of what Aristotle described as a moral virtue is ‘magnanimity’ or ‘largeness of heart,’” Dr. Enright added–what he calls the very essence of forgiveness.

Following Dr. Enright’s presentation, Dr. Peli Galiti, Director of the IFI’s Greek Forgiveness Education Program spoke on “The Way to Forgiveness: From Theory to Practice.” For the past eight years, Dr. Galiti has been conducting Forgiveness Education training workshops for Greek teachers. During that time, she has trained more than 600 teachers to use the Forgiveness Education Program developed by Dr. Enright which is now being taught to more than 6,000 Greek students.

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I am somewhat convinced that if a particular person leaves my life, then he will not be hurting my family or me any more.  Am I correct in thinking this way, or should I forgive anyway?

Forgiveness need not be reserved only for the times in which you feel deep resentment which might be making you miserable.  At times, you might want to forgive simply because forgiveness is centered in goodness because it is a moral virtue.  In this latter case, you are forgiving because forgiveness is an end in and of itself.  Regarding this issue of deep resentment, it can stay with us even when people physically move away from us.  They still remain in the heart and the heart can be restless until the offended person forgives.  So, even if the one who hurt you leaves, you can forgive because: a) forgiveness is good in and of itself and b) you might still be resentful and want to be free of that.

For additional information, see Do I Have to Reconcile with the Other When I Forgive?

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I am able to do relaxation training and this reduces my stress and anger. Is forgiveness, then, unnecessary for me?

Forgiveness is a moral virtue and need not occur only to aid a person in reducing anger. As a moral virtue, you can forgive as an end in and of itself, because it is good. Also, try to be aware of what happens inside you once you are no longer relaxed. Does the anger well up inside you again? If so, then the practice of forgiveness might be a more permanent solution to your anger than relaxation training by itself.

Learn more at Forgiving is not. . .

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