The Paradox of Forgiveness: Letting Go of the Outcome to Produce a Greater Good  (2016)

Researcher(s):

Project Sponsor(s)

  • Fetzer Institute

Project Categories

The purpose of this case project is to identify exemplars of individuals representing the paradoxical nature of forgiveness or “indirect forgiveness,” and then conduct an analysis using the theory developed by Drs. Marilyn Armour and Mark Umbreit in their chapter on the paradox of forgiveness (in the Handbook on Forgiveness, ed. by Everett Worthington, 2005) augmented by theory on the dyadic process of indirect forgiveness.

This study will offer a literature review on implicit forgiveness, the paradoxical nature of forgiveness, and indirect forgiveness. The investigator will review and analysis of archival data in Texas and Minnesota, consisting of video tapes, case files and transcribed interviews of actual restorative justice encounters to identify exemplars of the paradox of forgiveness and what can be learned to broaden our understanding of the power of forgiveness in multiple settings beyond the restorative justice context.

The outcome of this project is a book of personal stories from restorative justice participants that serve as exemplars of a process that produces non-proscribed/implicit forgiveness or a greater good. Each story will be followed by an analysis of the process, as informed by the yet to be analyzed research results from the Victim Offender Mediated Dialogue study in Texas, interviews with restorative justice participants, and review of the retrospective materials.

This project has the potential to significantly broaden our understanding of forgiveness, moving beyond the current constructs and examining the paradox of forgiveness–the “less talk of it, often times, the more experience of it.”