Forgiveness and Politicians

The Unforgiven – Silvia Gialinà contemplates broodingly.



Forgiveness research confirm the correlations between physical health and mental health when one is willing to extend grace and understanding. The Diagnostic Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognizes the variables of unforgiveness that leads to depression, disorders of major depression, anger and anxiety. Unforgiveness can usually be found as a root issue that leads to stress, which is directly linked to mental health issues. With forgiveness, an important characteristic that individuals should adopt into their personal lifestyle is considering where forgiveness fits in within a person’s own political views. Should forgiveness be extended to the Policy makers, Politicians, Presidents, and World leaders? Would forgiveness make a difference?
Loren Toussaint and Jon Webb explain that there are three major reasons to consider forgiveness. First, there is a connection between interpersonal offenses that decrease one’s mental health. Second, intrapersonal transgressions will increase a person’s feelings of guilt, indignity and remorse which has a direct relationship to an individual’s mental health. Thirdly, mental health is often directly linked to the physical health of an individual; this is associated with health care cost. (Worthington, 2006, p. 349)


Robert D. Enright, PhD., is the founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), 1994 in Wisconsin, United States, and has focused for the past 14 years on Forgiveness Education. His “Forgiveness Education Around the World,” program features in over 30 countries who share a vision towards bringing peace to war-torn children in impoverished and oppressed areas across the globe. Enright also developed the 20-Step Forgiveness Process Model to help any person, family, community or country experience the benefits that forgiveness has to offer. (“IFI,” 2016)


When a person is wronged or hurt by another individual, this brings anger, bitterness and emotional pain. The person could respond with vengeance, wrath, murder and hate. Alternatively, the person could go to the other spectrum and bury the hurt emotionally and keep their sentiments bottled up and private. Both extremes are personally damaging and potentially hurtful to others.


With the exchange of office of a President or World Leader, there are demonstrations of rage and bitterness. Once a new policy goes into effect looting, marching, and madness tends to take place in the streets. The antagonism, resentment, animosity, rage, and fury follow closely behind in the newspapers and media, expressing the interpersonal and intrapersonal hurt and pain of the disappointment in the Politician or Leader.

‘The woods are lovely dark and deep, but there are miles to go before I sleep’. Frost, Robert.


With deep-rooted bitterness and frustration comes a sense of justification for one’s actions towards the other person where there is an offense. Can looting and destruction of property ever be justified or does it simply become a measuring stick for quantitative studies? This public flogging of a politician is perhaps covered by media to boost their sales whilst secretly funding their hidden agenda.


Apparently, the gathering of crowds reflects hurt, pain, and bitterness, but is it possible for forgiveness to take place? The Forgiveness Process Model by Enright examines the pains that an individual is experiencing from the framework of the projected intentional hurt of another person. Asking the self-examining questions about the depth of suffering, the circumstances or even how this affects you, is the beginning stages of a painful experience of forgiveness.


Enright takes the 20-step model and divides the process into four main phases: Uncovering your anger, Deciding to forgive, Working on forgiveness, and Discovery and release from emotional prison. In revealing the rage, one of the questions he lays before a person deals with asking if the offense has changed their worldview. This focuses the individual on examining his or her cognitive processing of their world outlook.


A drawing by Oleg Serkiz

When those who lash out, retaliate or justify destruction, it reflects the fears and insecurities that lie within. Operating in a constant state of fear and stress will affect the emotional and mental health of the one offended. Those who justify their wrongdoing are grasping for salvation from their inward pain and conflict. However, does lambasting and condemning bring resolution to emotional pain or change the one who has done the offending? Neither does forgiving mean that it releases the offender from any wrong that has taken place or condones the evil that perpetrated.


Forgiveness programs often try and measure results based upon the reconnection and reconciliation between the offender and offended parties. This reconnection is problematic between common citizens and their political leaders. Other programs over-emphasize empathy towards their offender in anticipations of uniting or binding two individuals once again. When two opposing ideologies face off in the ring of offenses, will there be neither a winner or a loser but simply a deadlock of transgressions?


The hinge of distinctiveness with Enright’s Forgiveness Process Model centres around the conception of a decision. The “decision to forgive” pivots a person’s toxicity towards the release from emotional prison. The one who is forgiving does not begin to condone or accept the actions of the one that is perceived to be wrong rather an inward personal decision takes place. Healing starts with the recognition of the need of an alternative resolution rather than the inner turmoil reflected with outward destruction.


Could inter peace be a reflection upon world peace? Could the beginning peace treaty be found from within an individual that chooses to self-examine personal offenses by negotiating through the desire to forgive? Although policies of government and legislators will impose their belief systems upon humanity the one thing they are not able to impose and take away is the ability to decide to forgive.

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