Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 1: Story - A Path to Forgiveness

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you can present it effectively.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.

Description of Activity

The group hears and discusses a true story about forgiveness.

Introduce the story by saying:

We can say important things about forgiveness by being clear what it is not. Forgiving another person does not necessarily mean you will reconcile a relationship, nor that a person has apologized or even asked to be forgiven. Forgiving another certainly does not mean that what that person did was okay, or that they are "getting away with it" (whatever "it" may be). And for most of us, advice "to forgive and forget" is often unrealistic.

So what is "forgiveness" and how do we choose to embrace forgiveness as part of our spiritual journey? Here is a story of how one man found a path to forgiveness.

Tell or read the story.

Process with these questions:

  • Is it helpful to think about forgiveness as a path or a journey, instead of a finite act?
  • What do you think of Azim's job offer to Tony? If Tony accepts while Azim is still working with the Foundation, Azim might have to look every day at the person who murdered his son. Where does Azim say he receives the strength to face this kind of commitment?
  • What might make it hard for Tony to accept the offer?
  • What can you take from this story to apply to your own life?

Say, in these words or your own:

From Azim, we can learn that forgiveness is indeed an opportunity to deepen our lives, spiritually and emotionally. We can choose acceptance over anger, gratitude for what we have over regret for what we have lost. It may be too much to expect we will actually love those who hurt us, but we can still decide not to hate, and not to hurt as we have been hurt.

None of this is easy and we will not always succeed. However, by making these choices, we truly can live our Principles, accepting and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of others, justice, equity and compassion, acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth. Forgiveness is a gift we can give-to ourselves and to the world.