Forgiveness Essay, Research Paper
Forgiveness, What can it do?
by Jennifer Loeffler
Nearly every person on the earth holds a grudge or emotion inside of him or her self that tears them apart. The feeling of mistrust, hurt, and anger wrapped into one ball. This may seem all too familiar, however not one human being can deny holding one of these feelings at some point in time. Of all the diseases and illnesses this plagues all the people of the world. I’m talking about the emotions we hold inside until we forgive the one who had caused pain on our life.
How much can a person forgive? This is the question that we all must ask ourselves. This is the question that Mitchell Wright had to ask himself. We all recall the event that took place on March 34 of last year (1998). That was the day that two middle school boys decided to play sniper. Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden killed four of their classmates and one teacher, Mrs. Wright. Four families lost a child and one son lost his mother. Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden pulled the fire alarm to lure the students and teachers outside, they planned to shoot above the heads of their classmates and teachers, however that is far from what it seemed.
Though the two boys cried that they only planned to only give students and teachers a scare, they fired 22 shots. Five shots, fired by Johnson, directly hit one student in the head, two girls in the knee area, and Mrs. Wright in the chest and knee area. This did not and to this day does not feel or look like a joke.
So how can those families go on? How is Mitchell Wright going to explain to his son how why is mother is gone? Most importantly, how will those two boys be forgiven for taking the lives of five loved and loving people? The answer to all of these is in one word, forgiveness. This word hold much more than the words, “I forgive you”, ” I’m sorry”, rather they involve reaching in to the bottom of your heart and soul, and confrontation. These two may not seem to go together but more than we realize, they do.
Research and facilities have been created and built to study the effects that forgiving and not forgiving have on people. Everett Worthington is the director of the Templeton Foundation Campaign for Forgiveness Research. Worthington is a psychologist in Virginia who studies the physiological effects of forgiveness among chimpanzees and on the pulse and sweat glands of humans.
Imagine sitting in a chair with electrodes stuck to your head, a tone plays in the back round and a memory comes to mind, one that you hold a grudge for, and you begin to act it out. Another tone plays and a pleasant memory of empathizing comes to mind. For 16 seconds you rehearse each memory that is brought on by a different tone, while your heart rate and blood pressure are constantly measured. This is what would happen if you were to volunteer at the research facilities at Templeton. Those who did volunteer were subject to this testing, and for many it was a lesson to learn that they need to forgive. The results of the heart ate and blood pressure showed “robust” differences between those memories that were tied to a grudge versus those that were tied with forgiveness. This was not surprising to some but for others it was a slap in the face.
Robert Enright, a few years ago, trashed the idea that forgiveness had any effect on health. He was quoted as saying, ‘Only wimps forgive’. Enright is a psychology at the University of Wisconsin, now says that they ‘are really on a roll’. With the results showing that the stress level was “significantly higher” when a person considered revenge. Although the person may laugh and joke about such and event internally the signs show that it is harmful if enough is endured.
So what does this have to do with Mitchell Wright? Mitchell Wright is faced with a very hard issue. With his wife murdered by two young boys, and a son asking when she is going to come home, he has to deal with the matter in a way to benefit not only his son but also himself. With the new knowledge that forgiveness is a way to not only better his heart and body but also his soul. He has taken the horrifying situation and turned it into a grand opportunity. For both Mitchell and his son forgiving the two boys is their ultimate goal. However forgiveness does not come overnight. Forgiving a person is a thought through process that takes time and effort, but in the end the one that will benefit the most is the forgiver.
For Mitchell Wright the memories of his wife will never fade but his anger and hostility towards the boys will. As he looked further in his heart for the strength to let the grudge go. Forgiveness does not mean you have to forget, it just frees your heart for more pleasurable thoughts and feelings. Even if you haven’t talked to a person in years please, either call or write them. Tell them what they did to you and that you have forgiven them, then your heart will be a little lighter you will be able to laugh a little louder.
FORGIVE myself and others for all shortcomings
and let go of all resentment;
LIVE joyfully in the present moment
without being concerned about the past or future
LOVE myself and others freely
and without qualifications;
Actualize my unique potential and live by
my highest ideals;
Express the magnificence of my inner nature
and appreciate the magnificence of others.