Archive for April, 2013
A movie review by Dr. Giles Fraser
The Guardian and The Church Times Review, London, England – Patrick Magee killed Jo Berry’s father on October 12, 1984. He was the notorious IRA Brighton bomber; she is the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, former Tory MP for Enfield, Southgate, England. They were an unlikely pair to be mingling over the canapés in an upscale London hotel.
The occasion was the first London screening of a new documentary film, Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness, which examines extraordinary stories of forgiveness in Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the Middle East.
Some of it was almost unbearable to watch: the Rwandan woman whose five children were massacred in church is approached by their killer, who asks for forgiveness; the now-grown-up Irish schoolboy who was blinded by a rubber bullet meets the British soldier who fired the round; the Israeli and Palestinian families who meet, despite having all lost children in the conflict.
One of the stories in Beyond Right and Wrong tells how Magee traveled across England in 1978, planting 16 bombs in various cities and, then again, in 1984, when he blew up Brighton’s Grand Hotel during the Conservative party conference, killing five people. Magee eventually served 14 years in prison, released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. Jo Berry’s forgiveness of Magee is quite extraordinary, taking huge courage and emotional poise. And she admitted to me that she sometimes goes for a walk on the beach in north Wales and smashes rocks against each other in frustration. This is a safe detonation of the anger she feels inside. She says that for all to move on and reclaim a more peaceful future, these feelings have to be left on the beach.
Too often, forgiveness is construed as miraculously having positive feelings towards the person who had harmed you. This understanding is, I suspect, an impossible fiction. But what is not impossible is the refusal of revenge, the refusal to answer back in kind. Beyond Right and Wrong examines powerful stories of ordinary people in Rwanda and Israel/Palestine who have let go of perfectly natural punitive instincts in the name of a brighter tomorrow, one not trapped by the hatreds of the past.
…….if when you look inside, you are tired;
…….if when you look inside you do not like yourself anymore;
…….if when you look inside you find rust where you used to see sparkle;
…….if when you look inside you no longer find hope…….
Please know this…….
Forgiveness is your energizer;
Forgiveness is your self-esteem bolster;
Forgiveness is your emotional rust-inhibitor;
Forgiveness gives you hope.
Come, together, let us do some spring cleaning of your heart.
The first step is this: Commit to forgiving, to reducing resentment and offering goodness toward those who have cluttered the rooms of your heart.
The second step is this: Commit to doing no harm to those who have soiled your inner world and did not stay around long enough to clean up after themselves.
Forgiveness will be your servant. Forgiveness will make tidy the rooms of your heart.
Suppose, instead, that you had an ongoing bacterial infection on your arm. Would it be a good idea to treat that? Why should emotional pains be any different? Yes, it probably is the case that it is more difficult to forgive in this context, but it may be all the more necessary….to prevent infection of the heart, in an emotional sense.
When we are treated deeply unjustly by others, we have a tendency to be wounded in at least eight ways. First is the injustice itself. Second is the emotional reaction, such as considerable anger or frustration or sadness. Third, we sometimes feel shame because others are looking and wondering. Fourth, all of the above can make us tired. Fifth, we sometimes can’t stop thinking about what happened. Sixth, as we compare ourselves to the one who hurt us, we see ourselves as coming up short. Seventh, we sometimes have to make unwanted changes in our lives. And eighth, we drift into pessimism.
One injustice, eight wounds. Now, suppose one person hurt you deeply 20 times. That is 20 X 8 = 160 wounds you are carrying around inside of you.
Suppose further that 5 other people have hurt you 10 times each……just wait a minute., please….doing the math here……That is 400 more wounds. Adding the first person who hurt you to the other five who hurt you and look. You are carrying around at least 560 wounds inside of you.
Injustice has a way of making us round-shouldered if you think about it. But be of good cheer. Forgiveness properly practiced can eliminate most of these wounds, allowing you to stand up straight perhaps for the first time in years.
Do the math…..then please consider forgiving.
Religion News Service, Columbia, MO – Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his battle against apartheid, has won the 2013 Templeton Prize for his work in advancing the cause of peace and the spiritual principles of forgiveness.
“Desmond Tutu calls upon all of us to recognize that each and every human being is unique in all of history and, in doing so, to embrace our own vast potential to be agents for spiritual progress and positive change” Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr., president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, said in announcing the $1.7 million award. “Not only does he teach this idea, he lives it.”
In his remarks, Templeton, Jr. said the judges believed that “Tutu’s steadfastness to core Christian principles such as love and forgiveness has broken chains of hurt, pain and all too common instincts for revenge, and instead, has advanced the spiritual liberation of people around the world.”
Tutu, 81, said he was “totally bowled over” by winning the prize which will be presented at a May 21 ceremony at the Guildhall in London.
“We inhabit a universe where kindness matters, compassion matters, caring matters,” Tutu added. “This is a moral universe and right and wrong matter. And mercifully, gloriously, right will prevail.”
Archbishop Tutu is an Honorary Board Member of the International Forgiveness Institute.
Read the full story: Desmond Tutu wins 2013 Templeton Prize for work on forgiveness.