Our Founder William Fergus Martin
When You Forgive You Win!
People often ask our Founder, William Fergus Martin, how he came to write about Forgiveness and how The Global Forgiveness Intiative got started. This is his story…
I was much surprised (and a bit horrified) to discover that the series of “articles” I was writing about Forgiveness, had somehow grown into being enough material to be a book. I was married at the time and I said to my wife, “Oh no! It is a book that I have been writing! What am I going to do with it!” In her usual, practical, sensible way, she replied, “Get it published!”
(Actually, she said, “Stop whinging and get it published!”…. “Whinging”, is a fair and accurate description of what I was actually doing at the time.)
That book got published by Findhorn Press as: Forgiveness is Power. I was very resistant to acknowledging that I had written a book (that is why I was “whinging”) and I was especially resistant to the idea of writing a book about Forgiveness. It just sort of snuck up on me…. It all happened through inspiration…
I was sitting down at my computer one day intending to write an article as part of project I was working on… When suddenly, out of the blue… Ding!…. An idea came into my head about “Forgiveness” and how to look at it in a very different way – so that it becomes much easier to forgive. I hesitated for a moment, as I had work to do, but it seemed to me such an interesting and compelling idea that I just had to write it down…. I typed up the idea, and as I was saving it on my computer I thought, “Well that was very interesting, but I don’t know what it has to do with me.”
The next day. I sat down on front of my computer ready to really get to work, when…. Ding!… Another idea came into my head about forgiveness, which was a follow-on from the first idea…. So I wrote that one down too….
This kept happening… Most days an idea would come into my head and I would write it down. I was not sure what it was I was writing, so started I saving the “articles” in a folder called “Forgiveness Course”. Eventually, there was so much material that it was obviously a book. I did not like the idea of being a writer of a book about Forgiveness. What did I know about Forgiveness? I’m no expert! In fact, as I was writing the book I was very aware that most of what I was writing were things that I very much needed to learn. “If anybody needs to read this book it’s me”, was a recurring thought I had while writing it.
Besides, isn’t it for religious leaders and people like that to write about forgiveness? Surely, a book “teaching people how to forgive” needs to be written by someone wise – an ‘other-worldly’ person – who has some sort of Spiritual Authority (whatever that is)? Besides who wants to have the type of life where they get to write a book on forgiveness? Doesn’t that mean that terrible things have to happen to them so that they have to learn to forgive? However, the book was showing me that it was simple and easy to learn to forgive and that it did not have to be for big, dramatic things – in fact the its also importatnt to use it for small things too (and that anything we needed to forgive was not actually “small”). The more I practised what I learned from the material in the book the more gracefully I was able to move through the challenges of life. “This stuff works”, I realised, “It deserves to be more widely known.” So I treid it out with a few friends and got very good feedback.
I also sent an early version of the material to some people for feedback on, “how well does this work as a book?”. The gist of the feedback was that people liked it (even loved it) but the style was too impersonal. They said, “you need to put your own story in it to make it more accessible”. That made sense, so I re-wrote the book by adding stories from my own life to illustrate the different points made in the chapters and then submitted it for publication.
Eventually the book, Forgiveness is Power, got published, by Findhorn Press (now part of Inner Traditions, USA). And then shortly after that an Indian Publisher published in India, then a publisher in Taiwan published it in Traditional Chinese, then a Beijing company published it in Simplified Chinese (the version of Chinese used in Mainland china).
I was delighted that this was happening. I had a feeling when writing the book that it needed to be useful to anyone from any culture whether the person was religious or not. I deliberately avoided quoting any of the usual authoritative sources about Forgiveness (such as The Bible, or Course in Miracles, etc) as that could be off-putting to many of the people who could benefit from Forgiveness is Power. The spread of the book to different publishers in very different cultures proved that the material did indeed work internationally.
The book, Forgiveness is Power, is really about helping people realise that Forgiveness is – among other things – a self-empowerment tool. This is a very different apporach to what most people experience. Usually we get told that we “should” forgive, but not how to actually do it. This causes many people to develop Forgiveness Aversion Trauma (FAT) where they can’t even look at the topic of Forgiveness, because they feel bad about themselves in relation to it. It’s their “dark secret”. It is the thing they “should” do, but don’t do. But, this is simply because they nobody had shown them how to do forgive. They don’t forgive because they just don’t know how. Somebody shows them how and they are delighted. They are also empowered, because they are freeing themselves from unhappy effects of their past.
However, I felt that i wanted to fast-track this process. It would take a very long time – if ever – for Forgiveness is Power to get published in all the major languages of the world. People need it, so I wondered how to get it too them more quickly…
Then I decided to write a much smaller book, one which I could afford to get translated into other languages, and one that I could give away for free. That book, in English, is called The Four Steps to Forgiveness. It is now in over 20 languages.
I have a background in computer systems, so I knew it would not be difficult for me to set up a website, but how would people find the website? I then discovered that Google offered advertising grants to non-profits to let them promote their work on the Google search engine (for more info search on: “Google for Non-profits”). I learned how to set up a charity in Scotland, where I live, and with the help of a few Trustees started: The Global Forgiveness Initiative. We set up the website, got the Google grant and then began advertising and giving away the English version of The Four Steps to Forgiveness.
Soon after, the first translation of The Four Steps to Forgiveness arrived and a very interesting thing happened. The first translation was in Arabic, because it seemed to me that if I can get a website to be able to include Arabic text (being that it is written right-to-left, has non-roman characters, and so on) I could probably make it work in any language.
The Arabic translation arrived I was looking at the text. I was feeling excited, and a bit flippant, and I thought to myself, “Wow! Look at all that funny, squiggly writing…” Suddenly, it was like something deeper and wiser arose from inside me and said:
“These are my people!…”
“What!”, says I…
“These are my people!…” It said again…
“Oh, I said”… “These are my people… These are… My People…” And I felt this lovely sense of connection with all the Arabic speaking people of the world.
The same thing happened eventually with all the translations – from Arabic to Vietnamese…. When I looked at the translations, as they came in over the next few years, they all came with a feeling of “These are My People!…” and I would feel a beautiful inner connection with the speakers of that language.
Also later, and still nowadays, when working on figuring out how on earth to advertise in a language I don’t know, I get the feeling that I am doing it for My People and that helps me overcome the challenges involved. That feeling is also helping me as I transition from being a backroom, behind-the-scenes, ‘nerdy’ type of guy to being bolder and more “out-there” as a presenter of forgiveness material. If I don’t stop being shy and get the information out there – then the people who need it will not get to know the material. So, I am learning to be ‘bigger and bolder’ for the sake of My People.
Oh, and by the way, you dear reader are also one of My People….
So why not download your free copy of The Four Steps to Forgiveness and see if it works for you?…
You can also find the book using the isbn number in your favorite search engine: 9781844096282 or search on: Forgiveness is Power, William Fergus Martin
International Editions of Forgiveness is Power: Published by Inner Traditions, USA (ISBN: 9781844096282), in India (Vikas Publishing, ISBN: 9789325975170), in Traditional Chinese (Trojan Culture, ISBN: 9789863591184) and in Simplified Chinese (Beijing United Publishing co., LTD ISBN: 9787559606006).
I wish you good speed on your forgiveness journey….
William Fergus Martin
(Somewhere along the way I discovered that my full name “William Fergus Martin” is unique on Google, so I realised that if I use my full name nobody else will get blamed for anything I do – so that is the name I use.)