The First International Conference on Forgiving and Being Forgiven
within an Inter/Intra Cultural Perspective
1st and 2nd of February, 2023
Bar-Ilan University, Israel
The First International Conference on Forgiving and Being Forgiven, within an Inter/intra Cultural Perspective, hosted scholars, experts and practitioners in relevant fields with the following themes: Forgiveness as a process and an experience, the forgiving and or the forgiven person within an intra/intercultural context.
Forgiving and being forgiven have countless cultural manifestations. They are relevant to the progress of criminology, victimology, positive criminology, restorative justice and conflict transformation. The concept of forgiveness has been elaborated in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, moral philosophy, religion studies and spirituality practice, ethics, legal studies, economy and more. However, this broad concept has not been explored enough. The topic entangles a variety of developments of what the experience of forgiveness may imply. For this reason, we held this conference.
The macro, mezzo, and micro levels are apparent. There are different levels of forgiveness and various agencies that forgive or are forgiven. Different cultures/religions assign a distinct sense of agency to what, who, and how forgiveness is granted and under what circumstances.
The theological concept of being forgiven by the divinity for one's sins has, of course, evolved into the philosophical ideas that formed the criminal justice systems. As part of an ongoing democratisation process, the question of who is the one to forgive has been raised. Is it the victims? Is it the community? Is it the state's agencies? Or maybe the offenders who often come from deep deprivation and are invisible to systems that have maintained injustices and disparities?
Forgiveness is embedded in a cultural and normative context. It affects the discourse used within interpersonal interaction. For example, in "punishing cultures", people who fail, are exempted from punishment only by being excused. However, it is not evident that being excused and being forgiven overlap. The fear and threat of rejection and exclusion may affect the need and meaning of forgiveness.
In democratic "learning" cultures, failing is part of a developmental journey and requires others' empathy, grace and understanding of the individual's process. But does it mean neccesserally being more forgiving? And how much forgiving? Is there an overlap between forgiveness and tolerance, and if so, how?
On the micro level, forgiveness may be a psychological, interpersonal pro-adaptive coping mechanism of the self to a sometimes disappointing reality and a search for meaning.
Thus there are many aspects to forgiveness. The term is ambiguous and under-explored.
It is an interesting question to ask whether leniency overlaps with forgiveness? Or is it negligence of individual needs? Is the conflict solved if the victims are expected to forgive? What can achieve the actual merits and results known to follow the act of genuine forgiveness?
Thefore the aim of the conference was to explore from a multi-cultural perspective of people's varied experience with 'Forgiveness': the benefits, obstacles, or risks that can come from the process, for everyone involved.
The conference hosted some of the leading lights in the field of forgiveness.
The program included as keynote speakers:
Prof. Robert Enright, PhD,
from Wisconsin University, USA, the Founder of Forgiveness Therapy and Forgiveness Education, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute
Prof. Suzanne Freedman, PhD,
from University of Northern Iowa, USA, Contributing Writer and Researcher, the International Forgiveness Institute, Member of the Discover Forgiveness Advisory Council
Ms. Marina Cantacuzino, MBE,
an author, broadcaster and founder of The Forgiveness Project, a UK-based charity that works with both victims/survivors and former perpetrators
Other speakers attending included academics , practitionaires, social enterprizers and lived experiences, with whom we strived to deepen our understandings of the concept.
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The organising committee:
Mr. Peter Woolf, Dr. Esthi Shachaf-Friedman, Prof. Tomer Einat, Dr. Yitzhak Ben Yair,
Mr. Sarel Ohayon, Ms. Yarden Agmon, Mr. Allen Barkat, Prof. Natti Ronel