Many victims of violent crimes would not be able to feel compassion for the person who hurt them, but Robert D. Enright, the founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, believes that empathy and acceptance have immense power to heal and repair.
Enright is a professor with the number-one ranked Department of Educational Psychology. His forgiveness model is based on the premise that letting go of feelings of anger and resentment can be liberating. His work is especially tailored toward developing forgiveness education programs for children in impoverished and war-torn nations, such as Northern Ireland, where classroom research shows that learning about forgiveness helps promote anger reduction. Enright hopes that students will be able to focus on building healthy interpersonal relationships as they mature, and work toward creating more just and tolerant societies.
This vision for peace will require communities to rethink how they approach issues of justice, and think in terms of restoration rather than reparation and punishment. But Enright is convinced that helping people gain freedom from pain and sorrow can help restore peace and balance. Forgiveness education may hold the key to responding to tragedy and injustice in an emotionally healthy way, and rebuild positive relationships between individuals, families, and communities around the world.