Bomb Victim Practices Forgiveness to Heal from Tragedy

Democracy Now, New York, NY – Father Michael Lapsley, a former South African anti-apartheid activist, has turned his personal tragedy into a clarion call for peace and forgiveness.

In 1990, three months after the release of Nelson Mandela (who served 27 years in jail), the ruling de Klerk government sent Father Lapsley a parcel containing two religious magazines. Inside one of them was a highly sophisticated bomb. When Lapsley opened the magazine, the explosion blew off both of his hands, destroyed one eye and burned him severely.

Father Lapsley was not silenced by his injuries. He went on to work at the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, South Africa, which assisted the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is now director of the Institute for Healing of Memories.

“The journey of healing is to move from being a victim to a survivor to a victor, to take back agency,” Father Lapsley says. “I realized that if I was filled with hatred and bitterness and desire for revenge, they would have failed to kill the body, but they would have killed the soul.”

Father Lapsley is currently in the United States and was recently interviewed by Democracy Now about his new book, Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer. The book recently received the 2013 Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu prize for the best Christian and theological book by a South African writer. Watch the video interview or read the full transcript: “Apartheid Regime Bomb Victim Father Michael Lapsley on Using Forgiveness to Heal From Tragedy.”

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