A blog post from Marina Cantacuzino brought The Forgiveness Project to my attention today for the first time, and permitted me to hear the thoughts of people like Desmond Tutu and others who have both been touched by unimaginable hatred and freed from a destructive cycle of bitterness through forgiveness and grace.
The following paragraph from Marina struck a strong chord with me:
The year 2003 saw the invasion of Iraq; the bellicose language of retribution voiced by our politicians and reflected in the media disturbed me. I needed to do something different, to give a voice to people who weren’t being heard — victims of terrorism who had made friends with the terrorists, mothers who had forgiven their child’s killer, survivors of violence who had not tried to get even. These were stories that weren’t being told. We also interviewed and photographed those who had harmed others but who now sought more peaceful ways to effect change. In a world of tit-for-tat killings, attacks and unbreakable cycles of violence, we sought to draw a line under the dogma of vengeance.
These thoughts from Desmond Tutu were also personally powerful:
To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.
However, when I talk of forgiveness I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person too.
I’ve been contemplating a post for several months now that addresses the troubling ethnnocentrism and intolerance for others who are different which is reflected in some songs popular on the radio now, and in bumper stickers we see from time to time here in Oklahoma. I believe in education as well as other contexts of our lives, we need to be championing the values of mutual respect, love, forgiveness and grace. Recently seeing the movie “Amazing Grace” at the theater reminded me of how important it is that we take stands in our own lives against things that are immoral and wrong. I put the entire concept of “hatred” and everything that goes with it in that category of things we need to stand against. This is a theme I’ve blogged about before, in “Value of life, forgiveness, the Holocaust,” “Surviving Dachau, Liberating Mauthausen” and “Hotel Rwanda.”
In many contexts, including cyberbullying as well as international politics, we need to listen to more voices speaking of forgiveness and grace instead of those advocating escalating cycles of violence and revenge. There are times for self-defense and justified responses to acts of aggression, but often the voices clamoring for more violence seem to overtake those calling for other alternatives.
Genocide and slavery are sadly not purely concepts of history, and the destructive, long-lasting influences of murderers, abusers, and many others is depressing to witness and consider. The Forgiveness Project is a laudible effort making tangible the ideals of grace and forgiveness, and permitting anyone with a connection to the Internet to personally encounter the stories of those who have been transformed by the power of a better “f-word” – forgiveness.
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On this day..
- Arab Spring and the 2018 Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - 2018
- Lessons Learned on our Family's College Journey (April 2016) - 2016
- Oklahoma SDE Providing Funds for 1 Year Common Core Coach Positions - 2012
- Technology Trends in Higher Education (April 2010) - 2010
- WiFi Connectivity Options at Starbucks, AT&T hotspots, and Rural Broadband over Power Lines - 2009
- VLE versus MLE - 2008
- links for 2008-04-09 - 2008
- Promoting blogosphere civility - 2007
- The landscape of commercial eLearning curriculum options - 2007
- Flash format screencasts - 2007