Saturday, June 2, 2018

Heart Symptoms Never to Ignore

man holding chest

Chest Pain

This is the most common sign of a heart attack, but it's not always a crushing, sudden pain. It could be more of an uncomfortable feeling -- like squeezing or heaviness. You might mistake it for heartburn. It may last for more than a few minutes or go away and come back
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woman with back pain
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Arm or Back Pain

Men typically feel it in the left arm, but women may hurt in both. Your arms could feel heavy or "useless." It could be a sign of angina or a heart attack.
Pain may start in your chest, then move to your upper or lower back. Be suspicious if the pain comes out of nowhere or wakes you up at night and doesn't seem linked to a particular joint or muscle.
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woman with neck pain
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Neck or Jaw Pain

You can feel pain above the shoulders when you're having a heart attack. Your lower jaw on one or both sides may hurt or feel tight. Your neck may ache, or you could have a choking or burning feeling in your throat.
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exhausted construction worker
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Unusual Fatigue

Everybody's busy, so it's normal to feel tired once in a while. But it's a red flag for heart attack if you suddenly get wiped out at times you usually wouldn't. Maybe you're extra worn out after your typical exercise routine or you're exhausted just walking to the bathroom. You also might feel drained but still find it hard to sleep.
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woman sick in bathroom
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Fainting and Nausea

You may feel like you're going to pass out. Fainting happens when your blood pressure is low and your heart isn't pumping the right amount of oxygen to your brain. It might be because you're overheating, but heart conditions could also be the culprit.
Nausea and lack of appetite can also be signs of trouble with your ticker.
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sweaty man
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Sweating and Trouble Breathing

If you're having a heart attack, you may break out in a sweat even if you're not pushing yourself hard. You could feel cold and clammy. You may be short of breath, like you've run a marathon, even if you haven't moved off your couch. When you lie down, it may be even harder to breathe.
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woman coughing into arm
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Coughing and Wheezing

Shortness of breath with a regular cough and wheeze can be signs of heart failure. That's when your heart doesn't pump well enough to supply your body with all the blood and oxygen it needs. When you have heart failure, blood and fluids can back up into your lungs. You may have a hard time breathing or hear a rattling sound when you inhale. You might cough up pinkish mucus.
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swollen feet in shoes
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You could have it in your feet, ankles, legs, or stomach if you have heart failure. You may notice that your shoes feel tight. As blood flow out of your heart slows down, blood going back to it through the veins can back up. That causes fluid to collect in spots that it shouldn't. Your kidneys can't get rid of water and salt, which leads to more swelling.
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woman tired on stairs
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Trouble Getting Around

When you have heart failure, your body moves blood and the oxygen it carries away from areas that aren't as important, like your limbs, and sends it to the brain and heart. That makes moving around harder. Regular activities, like walking the dog or going up and down stairs, may be hard to do. As your heart gets weaker, simply getting dressed or walking across the room can tire you out.
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woman checking neck pulse
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Rapid Heart Rate

With heart failure, your ticker may beat fast to make up for its lack of pumping power. You may feel like your heart is racing.
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heart rate reading
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Irregular Heartbeat

A heart rhythm disorder like atrial fibrillation (AFib) can cause your ticker to beat fast and out of sync. Some people describe the feeling as a flutter or like a fish is flopping around inside their chest.
AFib can lead to blood clots and stroke if you don't treat it. It's possible you might not notice anything unusual about the way your heart beats but you might feel short of breath, tired, or lightheaded.
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man wearing cpap mask
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Loud Snoring

If it's happening every night, you could have sleep apnea. That's a condition which causes pauses in your breathing while you sleep. It's linked to atrial fibrillation and may raise your risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. If you don't get treatment for your sleep apnea, you may have a higher chance of life-threatening heart trouble.
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man disappointed in bed
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Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

If you have this problem often, it could be a sign that you have heart disease. Blood vessels in your penis may be clogged with plaque, just like vessels around your heart can get blocked. Without good blood flow, it's hard to get and keep an erection. Talk to your doctor if you have ED to figure out what's going on.
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When to Get Emergency Help

Get medical help right away if you think that you or someone you're with has any of the symptoms of a heart attack. Quick treatment can cut down the chances of damage to your heart. Call 911 if you have:
  • Pain, pressure, or squeezing in your chest
  • Pain or discomfort that spreads to your shoulders, back, neck, or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Sweating and nausea
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Does Self-Compassion Make You Compassionate Toward Others?

Despite what we might assume, research suggests that self-compassionate people aren't always compassionate.

Many people assume that self-compassion and compassion are related. After all, they both involve kindness—only the object of the kindness differs (ourselves versus another person). They both seem to involve mindful attention—being able to notice suffering—and the awareness that everyone else suffers, too.
Some people go so far as to say that you can’t truly be kind to others without first being kind to yourself. But is that necessarily true?
newly published study suggests that compassion and self-compassion don’t always go hand in hand—and may have different purposes in our lives.
In this study, researchers surveyed over 300 Dutch people on their compassion (how aware of people in need and motivated to care for others they were) and self-compassion (how kind, mindful, and connected to others they felt in their suffering, rather than feeling overwhelmed, alone, and judgmental). Participants also reported how much they experienced positive and negative emotions and symptoms of depression. The researchers then analyzed the surveys to see whether people who reported being self-compassionate tended to be compassionate, too, and how that related to their emotional well-being.
The results were somewhat surprising.
“If a person is compassionate towards others, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is self-compassionate or vice versa,” says lead researcher Angélica López. “Compassion and self-compassion appear to differ in nature and purpose.”
López found that most people tended to feel more compassion for others than compassion for themselves. Self-compassion and compassion had different relations to a person’s well-being, too. On average, more self-compassionate people had fewer depressive symptoms, less negative emotion, and more positive emotion, aligning with past research on the mental healthwell-being, and resilience benefits of self-compassion.
On the other hand, more compassionate people did not report greater well-being—despite what past research has shown. Perhaps that’s because compassion toward others may involve coming into contact with their suffering and, in some cases, that is painful.
López speculates that, even though there seems to be a connection between compassion and positive emotions, compassion may have evolved more for social well-being, while self-compassion (which targets self-judgment) has a greater direct impact on personal well-being. Self-compassion could help us feel better as individuals, while compassion could help sustain healthy relationships.
This interpretation is supported by the differences in compassion that López found when she compared people across demographics. Women rated themselves higher in compassion toward others than men, for example.
“It’s been suggested that gender roles encourage women to be nurturing and caring,” says López. “Our findings seem to be in line with this.”
López points to a 2011 brain imaging study that found different brain activation patterns in women and men when exposed to pictures that might elicit compassion. Together, these studies suggest that compassion may have a different evolutionary purpose than self-compassion.
“Compassion seems to have evolved as a desired trait for mate selection, and, as such, serves important social purposes,” she says. In other words, women and men tend to look for compassionate partners to raise their offspring with, as that gives their children a better chance at survival.
“In contrast, self-compassion may be more of an individual experience,” she adds.
López also found that those who had less education were generally more compassionate toward others and less self-compassionate than people with more education.
“[These] individuals often live in more threatening environments, so they often initiate cooperative relationships with social groups as a strategy to deal with external threats,” she says. Past research has indeed suggested that lower-income people are more cooperative and seem to look out for others more readily, too.
This study wasn’t experimental—López and her colleagues didn’t try to induce people to feel self-compassion or compassion and compare the results, so it can’t show that cultivating one won’t strengthen the other. But it does provide some evidence that self-compassion and compassion aren’t a package deal. This contrasts with some prior studies showing similarities between the two constructs; but it’s in line with findings that self-compassionate people are no more generous in evaluating others’ performance than people low in self-compassion.
According to López, this research implies that different people may benefit more from practices fostering one or the other—although both are beneficial, she says. Even though it’s clear that compassion strengthens social bonds and helps society, self-compassion can also benefit society indirectly, by creating happier and healthier citizens.
“Both compassion and self-compassion have great value,” López says.

Inspirational Quote – June 02, 2018

“The positive thinker Sees the invisible, Feels the Intangible, and Achieves the impossible.”

Each and every one of us has the freedom to choose to think positively. How great is that? A free gift to ourselves from ourselves. This free gift enables us to see the positive in the people around us, the situations we find ourselves in and the problems that we all face every day. How much better to arm ourselves with positivity rather than negativity in order to continue on our path through life.

Inspirational Quote – June 01, 2018

“Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

This is so true isn’t it and makes perfect sense when you think about it. To actually be defeated by someone, an event or situation in our life, we would have to believe, without a doubt, that we had indeed been defeated. We would have accepted defeat and allowed our mind set to absorb this as the truth. However, if we were to see defeat as something that happened to other people, not us, then our mind set would continue to be positive and uplifted so defeat would definitely have no place in our lives or minds.

When Rivers Hold Legal Rights

In the beautiful land of New Zealand flows a river that now has a voice to protect it. The voice is not like ours, but in every other way the Whanganui River has been given the same legal protections accorded to any person living in New Zealand. The river now "owns itself" and has the law to speak up for it when the river's rights are being violated. This growing global movement for Rights of Nature-- or the Rights of Mother Earth as some cultures prefer to call it -- seeks to pass laws that give legal standing to ecosystems. In a world that heedlessly exploits nature for profit, here is a story that shows how a longing for respectful relationship with Mother Earth can be restored for the good of all. As the River People say, "I am the river and the river is me."

The Rejuvenating Power of Rest

Rest, especially sleep, is a powerful and necessary process of our lives. It is also one of the least honored activities of our days, lives and societies. Matthew Edlund explains both the why and the musical how of resting in this piece. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

You Might be Getting Your Politics from Your Group

New research explains how America's political divide is fueled by group dynamics (not just differences of opinion).

It’s a puzzle: Average Americans aren’t especially ideological, but our political polarization is intense and growing. If we’re not driven by fierce convictions, why the disdain for the other side?
New research provides an unsettling answer. While most people aren’t all that invested in public policy, we are all driven by a deep impulse to divide the world between “them” and “us.” We instinctively identify with one side of the political divide, and view the other as the enemy.
“Americans are dividing themselves socially on the basis of whether they call themselves liberal or conservative, independent of their actual policy differences,” argues political psychologist Lilliana Mason of the University of Maryland. The roots of today’s political polarization, she writes, “are largely based in our social attachments to ideological labels, not only to thoughtful collections of opinions.”
This realization helps explain the long-running frustration of liberals that the public’s preferred policy prescriptions, which tend to lean leftward, are not reflected in the politicians we elect to represent us. That can be attributed to the fact one can hold generally liberal views and still identify as a conservative—and vote accordingly.
Mason, author of the new book Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, discusses this disconnect in the journal Public Opinion Quarterly. She notes that social identity “fills two basic psychological needs—one of inclusion (being part of a group) and one of exclusion (distinguishing oneself from others).”
This “us vs. them” mentality develops in early childhood; Stanford University biologist Robert Sapolsky calls it “a fundamental fault line in our brains.” It can play out in relatively benign ways, such as the sense of belonging created when you identify as a Yankees fan (and therefore an opponent of those notorious Red Sox).
But the terms “liberal” and “conservative” can similarly confer a sense of group identity, along with the assumption that your group is inherently more virtuous. That makes politics very personal, and compromise very difficult.
Mason analyzed data on 2,500 Americans that was collected in August of 2016 using a national sample. Participants were asked about their attitudes toward six issues, including immigration, gun control, and abortion, as well as questions designed to measure the extent to which their ideology served as a pillar of their personal identity.
These included “How important is being a liberal/conservative to you?” and “When talking about liberals/conservatives, how often do you use ‘we’ instead of ‘they’?” Respondents also noted how willing they would be to befriend, marry, or hang out with a member of the opposing ideological group.
Confirming previous research, Mason discovered that both liberals and conservatives “hold issues positions that are generally on the left-leaning end of the spectrum.” Liberals, not surprisingly, tended to support leftist policies, but conservatives failed to provide a mirror image. Instead, on hot-button policies, they were very close to the center of the scale—which means they held positions very different from those of today’s Congressional Republicans.
In other words, Hillary Clinton supporters were “consistently left-leaning,” while Donald Trump supporters were far less consistently right-leaning. “However,” Mason adds, “both groups of voters were equally attached to their ideological identity.” Being a liberal or a conservative helped define who they were—even if they were fuzzy on what those labels actually stood for.
The effects of this are felt far beyond the voting booth. Mason reports that—actual issue positions aside—the stronger you identify with an ideology, the more you prefer marrying, or being friends with, a fellow partisan.
“It is the ‘otherness’ of ideological opponents, more than issue-based disagreement, that drives liberal-vs.-conservative rancor,” Mason concludes.
“This is likely to lead to a less compromise-oriented electorate,” she adds. “After all, if policy outcomes are less important than team victory, a policy compromise is a useless concession to the enemy.”
Unless we somehow forge a unifying national identity, America will be vulnerable to demagogues like Trump who instinctively know how to exploit this destructive divide.

Inspirational Quote – May 31, 2018

“A tree that is unbending is easily broken.”

Now this is quite straightforward isn’t it? We all know that trees are usually firmly planted and sturdy don’t we? However, when a gale force wind blows and the tree doesn’t “give” in order to cope there is every chance that the wind will persevere until the tree is just ripped from the earth and blown whichever way the wind chooses. Just like the beautiful trees we are buffeted occasionally by situations, people, or stress, and if we don’t bend and adapt in order to deal with these, we too may be broken in spirit.

The Sunray Peace Village

The Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo is Chief of the Green Mountain, Ani Yun Wiwa, the 27th generation holder of the ancestral Ywahoo lineage of the Tsalagi/Eastern Cherokee tradition and a well-respected teacher of Vajrayana in the Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. She founded the Vajra Dakini Nunnery and is Director of the Sunray Meditation Society, an international spiritual organization dedicated to world peace and reconciliation. It is here that she shares the wisdom of the Ywahoo lineage with non-native people and has created a healing sanctuary, spiritual training ground, and community center. In this interview with Elissa Melaragno, she speaks about her heritage, her spiritual journey, the memory of water and creating a peace village.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How to Build a More Forgiving Community

As groups, organizations, and nations, we can find love and healing after being wronged.

There are many ways to hurt another person. There are also many ways to forgive that hurt.
On an individual level, we can forgive ourselves or we can forgive others. Self-forgiveness is the experience of getting successfully past self-condemnation by responsibly dealing with our shortcomings and restoring a healthy sense of self. For some, it is important to feel forgiven by God or a higher power. Forgiving another person can be seen as a victim’s altruistic and loving response to an offender’s injurious act.
Research suggests that these acts of individual-level forgiveness carry enormous mental and physical health benefits. Numerous studies have documented that forgiveness can reduce stress hormones, and it may improve both immune-system and cardiovascular functioning. In addition, forgiveness reduces rumination and associated depression, anxiety, anger, obsessive and compulsive cognition, and even psychosomatic illness. Forgiveness also improves relationships—and many studies show that the quality of our relationships is the single best predictor of happiness.
Is it possible for these benefits to be felt by groups, organizations, communities, and entire nations, regions, or cultures?
Community forgiveness—and on a larger scale, societal forgiveness—is a collectively embraced decision to change negative behavior, thoughts, feelings, and motivations toward an offending group or groups of people. Community injustices vary greatly in their nature. Some affect a small portion of the community; others touch the lives of virtually all members. Some community offenses are minor and others are quite severe, even life-threatening. As such, community forgiveness is a process that unfolds within a particular place and time.
Can we make forgiveness more possible and likely within a specific community—within individuals, between them, and in relation to another community? Two separate studies show that it is possible to foster forgiveness in communities. Both employed two-week forgiveness awareness-raising campaigns that used methods such as public lectures, student newspaper articles, debates, panels, group discussions, and small-group education. The studies show that these campaigns helped community members replace negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with positive, generous, and loving ones.
In a recent study, we found that even a short forgiveness campaign can help community members (as individuals) feel more forgiveness, more love, and less conflict. Our previous community interventions focused on mere awareness-raising through workshops and other kinds of education. However, by doing those studies we recognized that raising awareness did have a positive effect on changing people’s dispositions to forgive.
In this new study, we decided to strongly engage community members and offer multiple options for experiencing forgiveness within the community. Our results exceeded expectations—and offer some useful lessons for those who would promote forgiveness within their community.

A campaign for forgiveness

For our new study, we ran a two-week community campaign to promote forgiveness at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
We began by offering representatives of the community—including faculty, staff, leadership, and students—a list of activities that other schools, churches, or community groups had employed to raise awareness and create opportunities for members to forgive. These included activities needing much administrative coordination, such as chapel talks, guest speakers, debates, public forums, meetings to discuss forgiveness and social action, college social media posts, blogs, and student newspaper articles.
But they also included things students, faculty, and staff could do on their own, such as email blasts, class assignments, creating websites, watching TED talks, and praying for one’s “enemies,” as well as group activities (such as movie nights and dorm discussion groups) and student competitions (such as essay contests). A task force of student leaders, volunteers, faculty, and staff selected some of these activities and created their own original forgiveness campaign materials.
We offered two types of student-led therapeutic group interventions for those who wanted to do a deeper dive into forgiving a specific wrong in their own lives and become more forgiving people in general. These groups met during two consecutive weekends for a total of six hours. During their meetings, groups were led by pairs of students trained in delivering two different types of forgiveness education. The first approach was Everett Worthington’s REACH Forgiveness method, where participants were taught to:
  • Recall the hurt,
  • Empathize with the offender,
  • make an Altruistic gift of forgiveness, and then
  • Commit and
  • Hold on to forgiveness.
The second approach was Frederic Luskin’s Forgive for Good method, where participants try to reframe the experience of victimhood and transform it into a story of resilience. Participants also learned stress relaxation techniques to help modulate the stress and anxiety that accompanies thinking and working on hurtful events from one’s past.
Students completed surveys on their general levels of forgiveness, conflict, and love before and during the semester of the forgiveness campaign. In addition, they answered questions about their forgiveness, conflict, and love in specific relationships with friends, roommates, teachers, and parents (e.g., To what extent would you describe your relationship with your roommate as forgiving?).
The results? Twelve percent more students reported a stronger disposition toward forgiving others after completing the campaign, as compared to the baseline comparison period. Specifically, students reported more forgiveness toward teachers (11 percent) and parents (8 percent). They also reported less conflict with teachers (9 percent) and parents (13 percent), and more love toward friends (10 percent) and teachers (14 percent).
Whether the campaign promoted forgiveness within any specific relationship depended upon the initial state of that relationship, like how forgiving the relationship was before the campaign. Students tended to forgive more, feel less conflict with, and feel more love toward their teachers than in their other relationships.
Because the interventions were distributed across the entire student body of Luther College, the entire community—as a collection of individuals—became more forgiving. If the research on the benefits of forgiving holds true, that should result, down the road, in those students being more physically and psychologically healthy, relationally well-adjusted, and perhaps spiritually more settled.
The public health implications of this kind of campaign, if it were to be scaled up beyond one college campus, could be profound. Research shows that forgiveness interventions lead people to become more forgiving for every hour they spend attempting to forgive. Amazingly, without mentioning psychological or physical health, these programs also lead people to become less depressed, less anxious, and more hopeful!
In the Luther College Community Forgiveness Campaign, public offers to think about or attend forgiveness groups, movie discussion groups, debates, and discussions engaged some people for 10 or more hours and other people not at all. The average time participants spent engaging with the campaign was about 2.5 hours of accumulated exposure over the two weeks, yet people still saw real changes in their tendency to forgive and likely realized benefits to their health.
True, this is a self-contained, moderate-sized liberal arts college. Yet just imagine what might happen in communities as large as New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, or Los Angeles if even a small proportion of their millions of citizens became engaged in groups, churches, public meetings at libraries or community centers, friendships, and families that helped each other consider becoming more forgiving.
How much impact might this have on physical health, psychological health, relationship conflict, workplace discord, and changed attitudes towards other groups?

Promoting forgiveness in your community

Perhaps you live in a community that might need to embrace forgiving. Religious communities are fertile ground for forgiveness campaigns simply because most religious people already value and try to practice forgiveness. But virtually all communities who value forgiveness can benefit.
How hard is it? Not as hard as you might think. With shared vision and community motivation, you can use some of the following strategies in community forgiveness efforts.
1. Raise awareness. A common first step is to begin awareness-raising on the issue of forgiveness. For example, at Virginia Commonwealth University, The Stall Seat Journal—a wellness flier posted in bathrooms—has been used to educate students about forgiveness and practical ways of forgiving.
But the goal is not necessarily to blanket a community with promotional advertising. Rather, awareness-raising might be aimed at educating and motivating members to learn about forgiveness, its benefits, and how to experience it—or to merely discuss it with others.
2. Get help. Though it might be tempting to create your own forgiveness campaign, your community might be best served by using evidence-based interventions aimed at experiencing forgiveness, like REACH Forgiveness groups, do-it-yourself workbooks, online interventions, and book or movie discussion groups.
Regardless of how respected the local leaders are, community work is often done best when it invites participation and contribution from all corners of the community. Keep in mind that your community may not have all the answers and looking to other communities as examples, inviting forgiveness experts, and developing the breadth and depth of expert organizers, counselors, and other professionals makes for a more effective and sustainable approach.
3. Tailored interventions. It might seem that community forgiveness interventions should apply widely across many different communities, but in truth no one-size-fits-all learning experience exists. In younger communities and developed nations, the use of social media outlets—YouTube, blogs, Facebook, Twitter—could be effective tools to engage people to spend time learning about forgiveness or just trying to forgive. In other communities, such as tribal communities in Africa or collectivistic cultures, shared storytelling may be highly valued and an effective tool.
For instance, Fambul Tok is a community forgiveness initiative that was used in Sierra Leone to promote forgiveness in the wake of the trauma and atrocities resulting from their civil war. Regularly occurring forgiveness-themed stories were also used in Rwanda in recovering from that country’s genocide. Some members of a community may wish to participate passively, for instance, by attending a community presentation or movie discussion group. Others may wish to participate in formal training on forgiveness. Still others might want to organize a debate or invite community leaders from two opposing groups for shared discussions.
In some cases, like with the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s nationally televised hearings, a public event can focus an entire nation’s attention. Allow options for community members to match their level of interest with involvement.
4. Evaluate. Good intentions do not necessarily result in good outcomes. That is why it is critical to find appropriate methods of evaluating community forgiveness programs.
So again, consider bringing in experts to work with community leaders in a way that can establish baseline measurements, evaluate change, and determine whether real and meaningful progress has been made—in a way that the community leaders can understand. Be prepared to find that not all community members respond uniformly positively to forgiveness interventions.
Forgiveness is hard work for everyone and considerable differences exist in people’s readiness for positive change in their lives. Keep in mind that effective forgiveness interventions will likely produce improvements in health and well-being, and these outcomes are important to measure, as well. Don’t forget to share results with the community, request feedback, and seek to identify strengths as well as areas of improvement.
A significant part of human history has been written about communities, groups, and nations in conflict. Unfortunately, the case remains the same today. As the world becomes increasing nationalistic and one-time allies and friends become competitors and threats, the need for forgiving communities and nations has never been greater.