What is one concrete step I can take to begin forgiving another who has hurt me?
Try to commit, as you read this, to do no harm to the other. This includes talking with bitterness about the other, deliberately ignoring, or thinking about taking revenge.
It seems to me that anger is not always a bad thing. Can’t people be energized by their anger, focus, and attain fairness?
Yes, anger can be part of the motivation for achieving good. Yet, we have to make a distinction between anger within reasonable bounds (the emotion does not disable us, is not extreme) and anger that turns to resentment (a long-lasting and intensive anger that can lead to fatigue, distraction, and even physical complications). If we do not make this distinction, we could slip into resentment and conclude that it is good rather than dangerous in the long-term.
How can we get parents interested in teaching their children about forgiveness?
Parents first need to understand that deep-seated resentment can build up in children’s hearts when they are treated unfairly. They need a way of curing that resentment and forgiveness is one vital way to do that. We need to get the word out to parents that forgiveness is a protection of the child’s heart that can be appropriated for the rest of that child’s life, even into adulthood when the storms of life can get more severe.
I am somewhat confused. I thought that forgiveness is getting rid of resentment toward an offending person. That is what I read the most. So, what’s wrong with this as a definition of forgiving?
While reducing resentment is part of the definition of forgiveness, it cannot be the complete definition because one can reduce resentment, for example, by dismissing the offending person. In other words, a person might reduce resentment and then says to oneself, “That other person is worthless. I am moving on.” Failing to acknowledge the personhood of the other and dismissing that other person is not a moral virtue. Therefore, it cannot be all that encompasses forgiveness, given that forgiveness is a moral virtue.
I am ambivalent about “giving a gift” to the one who offended me. I do not think he will accept it. This likely will make me angry all over again. What do you suggest?
A complete sense of forgiving, or the essence of what forgiving is, includes this giving of a gift to the one who hurt you. Yet, you do not have to reach the deepest sense of forgiving to be practicing this moral virtue. If you are not ready to give a gift and if you have reduced your resentment and commit to do no harm to the one who hurt you, then you are forgiving at this point.