Review: The forgiving life: A pathway to overcoming resentment and creating a legacy of love
Mar 08, 2012
by Jacqueline Song, University of the Philippines-Dilman
Justice can be restored in many ways, as the readers of this site are well aware. Sometimes, victims and offenders choose to bring mercy alongside justice as a way to heal from the ravages of injustice. Forgiving and seeking forgiveness together constitute one of these merciful strategies. To forgive is to struggle to rid oneself of resentment and to respond to an offender with goodness. To seek forgiveness includes internal sorrow, a conviction not to repeat the offense, and recompense where appropriate. When one forgives, he or she never condones the wrong and never tosses justice aside. Forgiveness and justice work side by side for good.
A new book, The Forgiving Life, by Robert Enright (Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), offers readers the opportunity to practice forgiveness in both of these forms, the giving and the receiving. The pathway to forgiving outlined in the book has strong scientific backing to it. Those who walk the path as described tend to reduce in anger, anxiety, and depression and to increase in self-esteem and hope.
There are 19 chapters in the book:
- A Theory of Forgiveness in Brief.
- If You Are Traumatized. The author specifically addresses the kinds of victims who could benefit from restorative justice approaches.
- How Telling and Listening to Stories Can Help. The book focuses on a dialogue between Sophia (a wise middle-aged woman) and Inez (a Hispanic younger woman). The benefits of dialogue, so prevalent in restorative justice, are presented.
- Forgiveness Is a Process.
- The Work Phase of Forgiveness.
- The Discovery Phase of Forgiveness.
- What Does It Mean to Forgive?
- The Forgiveness Plan. The chapter helps the reader figure out whom to forgive and why.
- Measuring Your Forgiveness. The reader gets a sense of how he or she is doing in forgiving by filling out scales of forgiveness.
- Your Forgiveness Pathway. This is the heart of the book. The author provides systematic exercises to forgive people, one at a time.
- How Did You Do in Forgiving? The author provides another scale to assess the person’s success or not in forgiving. This allows him or her to continue forgiving the same person or to move to the next one on the list.
- Forgiving Your Parents.
- Forgiveness Between Partners and Within Your Current Family.
- Completing the Triangle of Forgiveness. This includes forgiving, seeking forgiveness from others, and reconciling with them.
- School Days, Work Days, and Other Days. Sometimes, we need to forgive people from our past so that hidden anger does not interfere with current attempts to forgive. This chapter provides for forgiving people from the past.
- Surveying the Landscape from the Mountain Peak. The reader has a chance to reflect on his or her successes in forgiving.
- Questions as You Give Forgiveness to Others.
- Giving Forgiveness Away to Our Children and in Our Communities.
- Your Forgiveness Legacy. The author helps the reader shed anger so that this is not passed to others across the generations. The reader has the opportunity to leave love behind in this world rather than the ravages of excessive anger.