Promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship

promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship

10McCullough and Worthington, Encouraging Clients to Forgive People, pp. F. A. DiBlasio, Promoting Mutual Forgiveness Within the Fractured Relationship, . In R.D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (pp. ) E. L., Jr. & DiBlasio, F. A., 'Promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship'. giveness in relationships, as well as the long-term implications of us- . forgiveness may encourage forgiving others in the future” (p. ). . their partners betraying their trust by telling a mutual friend .. within the fractured relationship.

It can induce a shift in mindsets and transform harmful attitudes. It can build bridges between opposing parties, and help repair fractured relationships. It can help break the cycle of violence, aid post-traumatic reconciliation, build a more peaceful common future, and ultimately sustain peace. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.

And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? Bosnia When Kemal Pervanic, a survivor of the notorious Omarska concentration camp in Bosniareturned to Bosnia some years after the end of the war, he recognized the cruellest of his former Serb camp guards standing by the road hitch-hiking. The image caused Pervanic to react in way that might seem surprising — he started to laugh. I laughed because I remembered the monster this man had been. But now, hitch-hiking alone on a dusty road, he looked almost pitiful.

I believe every human being is capable of killing.

promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship

The answer was that I had — my people had, for ruling, dominating and oppressing three-and-a-half million Palestinians for 35 years.

Forgiving past wrongs may be a key to reconciliation between friends, family members, spouses, neighbors, races, cultures, and nations. More complete reconciliation means that we engage co-participants honestly and respectfully in the construction of a newer world through meaningful and faithful relationships. The process results in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite his or her actions.

Senegal Salimata Badji-Knight was brought up in a Muslim community in Senegal, where she was circumcised at the age of five. Hearing this made me happy, as it created a closer relationship between the two of us and I no longer blame her for what happened to me. In addition, before he died, I was able to have a good talk with my father.

I opened my heart to him and explained how female circumcision could affect you physically and mentally. He cried and said that no woman had ever explained the suffering to him. Then he apologized and asked for forgiveness. The next day he called my relatives in Senegal and told them to stop the practice. As a result, a meeting was cancelled and 50 girls were saved. She has spoken about the horror of seeing her good Christian friends destroying everything she had worked for with their Muslim neighbors.

In both of the above examples, as well as in the case of the Israeli Rami Elhanan, citizens who may not be directly responsible for a conflict nevertheless take responsibility for repairing the harm. This recognition of the interconnection of all human life seems a key component of forgiveness. As the psychologist Erik Eriksonfamous for his work on the conceptualization of identity, put it: There are three in particular: In post-conflict situations i. However, in the midst of violent conflict it may not be safe or expedient to talk about forgiveness.

It is a concept that irks some people, and to suggest forgiveness when past grievances are currently being played out — when people are hell-bent on survival on the one hand, whilst destroying the enemy on the other — may be insensitive and counter-productive.

In Peace-building Forgiveness can be a critical ingredient in rebuilding broken relationships and repairing damaged communities. It can be an important part of any peace-building process, and sometimes the only thing that can help divided communities move toward reconciliation. Festering trauma so easily has the capacity to become festering dehumanization; since both sides may believe there is risk in equality, they therefore adopt fear-based thinking such as: They realize I want to listen and learn.

And they too have learned from me.

Justice is dependent on the existence of an authority perceived as just; so when that is absent, who then can bring justice? But if you try to move forward without attending to the pain and the hurt of the injustice and the trauma of the past, your move forward will probably be illusory, and you will carry some of that difficulty into the future and into your relationships as an individual or as a community. In South Africa, leaders sought to attend to the hurt of injustice and the trauma of the past through formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as noted below.

South Africa Image by Brian Moody.

promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship

InAmy Biehl, an American student working in South Africa against apartheid, was stabbed to death in a black township near Cape Town.

The first time I saw them on TV I hated them. I thought this was the strategy of the whites, to come to South Africa to call for capital punishment. I was very confused. They seemed to understand that the youth of the townships had carried this crisis, this fight for liberation, on their shoulders. How can One develop and promote forgiveness and reconciliation in community building?

It is fundamentally a moral relation between self and other. But much of what has been said about forgiving others also applies to forgiving yourself. While there is no set order of actions to take, one may start with putting an end to self-punishment. This involves letting go of your self-hatred and self-pity. As with forgiving others, self-forgiveness is not about forgetting about the past or excusing bad behavior.

It is about taking responsibility, healing, and changing. It is also worth noting that self-forgiveness is different from forgiving someone else in one important way, in that it must be about reconciliation. When you forgive another, reconciliation is a choice; but an important part of forgiving yourself is to integrate your previously unacceptable characteristics so that you can accept all of who you are without self-sabotaging, which can lead to self-abuse or any type of addiction.

Luskin makes a helpful distinction by breaking self-forgiveness into four main categories: Not taking action to help yourself or someone else Hurting others Self-destructive acts These categories can overlap; for instance, you could be upset with yourself for your alcohol abuse and the impact it has on your spouse.

Self-forgiveness can also be an aspect of interpersonal forgiveness. While you can be angry and upset with someone else for hurting you, you can also be angry and upset with yourself for the part you may have played.

Learning to forgive yourself gives you the freedom to heal, let go, and move on. It is a tool that allows you to become more self-aware. Moreover, some believe that you cannot forgive another until you have learned self-compassion and self-forgiveness. In this sense, forgiveness is a movement of compassion; and learning to forgive yourself is an important step in learning to become a forgiving person.

Common Stages in the Engagement Process When aggression leads to injury, pain, and shock, people may go through different phases to deal with their hurt. The following stages may apply to the experience, thought processes, and actions of individual victims or perpetrators as well as whole groups: Fear, anger, and revenge may maintain the cycle of violence, through Realization of loss Denial, and suppression of grief and fear Anger: Highlights and lessons from many of these stories are presented below.

However, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone experiences all of these components, nor necessarily in the same order. Forgiveness is not a fixed process and it may have no completion. Triggers throughout life might throw one off course again; therefore it is probably more helpful to think of forgiveness as a direction, rather than a destination.

Some key components to a forgiveness journey These may include: The anger and rage elements of loss must be expressed. Anger naturally arises after being hurt and often needs to be integrated, not rooted out like some bacterial illness. Denial or suppressing anger is a survival strategy that helps some people cope for a while.

However, being in denial for too long is unhealthy, as the underlying emotions evoked by a past event may become self-consuming as well as hinder one from moving beyond the initial pain. Brenda's father pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served two and half years in prison.

I still felt a deep level of anger at myself for ever trusting my father, demonstrated by my over-eating. It was while taking a course in spiritual psychology that I recognized how with each negative thought directed at my father I was re-wounding myself.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Through the process of accepting loss and feeling the full force of grief and pain, survivors in time may learn to 1 separate themselves from the events that have happened to them, and 2 integrate these events into their lives, so that the pain of the past becomes a part of who they are without consuming them.

England Camilla Carr, who was taken hostage in Chechnya inheld captive for 14 months, and repeatedly raped, says: It can be a lonely and isolating journey to forgive, especially when family or close friends show reluctance towards the idea of embracing forgiveness, e. Forgiveness takes courage, the willingness to explore the unknown, and resilience that enables one to follow what feels personally right.

In Julyhe was violently attacked when he came to the rescue of two Pakistani women who were being racially abused by a passing pedestrian. In spite of this, forgiving has really helped me move forward after the attack.

It has been about me, and has nothing to do with the man who attacked me. Understanding yourself opens up a space for understanding others. This involves giving up the expectation that life owes you something, and instead adopting a broader perspective the realizations that life is morally complicated, that good people do bad things, and that bad things happen to good people.

Such a perspective is crucial, because it allows people to have fewer black-and-white expectations of how life and others will treat them. This way of thinking says: Both were working at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles when they realized they had met 26 years earlier, when a group of teen-aged Nazi punks attacked and beat a gay homeless year-old boy.

Matthew Boger was that young boy and Tim Zaal, at age 17, was a member of the group who left Matthew for dead in a West Hollywood alley.

Her story seems to be about the impoverishment of a soul that knew no other way to live than through terrible cruelty Samantha, at just 18, lost both parents in one fatal blow.

Thirteen years later, for the first time since the murder, Samantha visited her dying father in prison. This seems to be the crux of forgiveness: In Letlapa Mphahlele, the man who master-minded the attack, invited Ginn to his homecoming ceremony and asked her to make a speech.

Vulnerable feelings, when expressed to other people, have the potential to establish lasting bonds. For some people, remorse is an essential ingredient to forgiving. For others, it chains the victim to the perpetrator, waiting for something the victim may never receive; therefore it may maintain the power imbalance between perpetrator and victim. Rwanda Former enemies can more easily live as neighbors and help to rebuild communities if remorse is shown, as in the case of Ngirente Philippe a Tutsi whose father was slaughtered by Uzabakiriho Teresphore a Hutu.

Both men now live as neighbors in Rwanda. Philippe says of Teresphore, whom he first encountered at a gacaca community court: He brought food and banana wine.

Again he started crying and repeatedly saying how sorry he was. Eventually I escorted him home. Then my wife and I embarked on the path of true reconciliation.

We wanted to do more than just forgive, but to actually live as neighbors and friends, side by side. We wanted to improve society, to respond to evil with goodness. So now his mother also comes to my home, and we share meals. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, author of the award-winning A Human Being Died that Night and a senior research professor in trauma, memory, and forgiveness at the University of the Free State in South Africahas come to believe that apology and acknowledgment are of the utmost importance when dealing with historical memory.

This is because, as she said at a conference in South Africa in The recognition of the pain of the other is an evocation of empathy. Acknowledging guilt is hard, because people are uncomfortable with their own shame, and afraid to recognize that they are to blame. Forgiving people, however, also recognize that some wrong-doers are simply unable to face their own shame and therefore cannot take responsibility.

In other words, if you wait for remorse and apology to happen, you may wait forever. England Anne, a victim of sexual abuse, has forgiven the man who repeatedly abused her during her childhood. This is what Rami Elhanan, whose daughter was killed by a suicide bomber in a Jerusalem market inmeans when he says: Frequently Rami gives public talks alongside his Palestinian friends, such as Bassam Aramin, whose year-old daughter, Abir, was killed by an Israeli soldier in Where does forgiveness fit into this difficult dialogue between two bereaved fathers, or two communities at war?

How can you forgive when the power imbalance is so vast and when justice is so far from being achieved? The only real way of affecting change is through heart-to-heart discussion, one person at a time.

For Rami, forgiveness is not the solution, but part of a quest to understand what makes a young man so angry that he chooses to blow himself up alongside a group of year-old girls.

Crucial to forgiving is not being attached to an outcome and not making assumptions. People tend to expect others to react like them; they compare their responses to how they would respond; they blame people for not doing what they think they should. The feeling was mutual. It was powerful and passionate and we described each other as soul mates.

This was going to be the defining relationship of my life. However, just six months later Jack started to behave differently. Sensing something was wrong, I confronted him and he confessed he had strong feelings for someone else. Our relationship quickly and painfully unravelled. I was stunned, angry, and very upset.

I thought of all the special things that Jack had said to me and wondered how his feelings could just have evaporated into thin air. I felt humiliated, betrayed, and profoundly hurt. I changed my lens and gained a new perspective. It might simply mean that my needs are greater than theirs.

promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship

The by-product of this intense pursuit of meaning is that people are able to adapt to circumstances and start to develop new coping skills and new ways of belonging to society. I found comfort there. If there was a place I could find grace, it was in the streets.

Conditions under which forgiveness is most likely to occur People must have an opportunity to express their grief and rage in small group work, restorative circles, community courts, etc. People must be prepared to give something up — e. This is something that can only be encouraged and can only come about through exposure to those with whom you were formerly in conflict. People must be prepared to see the others as human, like themselves.

People must develop the ability to put meaning back into their lives and therefore bring about identity reconstruction. Engagement in such meaning-making activities rebuilds a self-identity. To conclude our discussion of forgiveness at an individual level, the following story of the over collected and shared by The Forgiveness Project sums up the complex, untidy, and often intangible journey of forgiveness: Forgiveness is a fresh, on-going, ever-present position of the mind, which takes on many different forms.

This will be discussed under the Engaging in the Reconciliation Process heading, just below. Engaging in the Reconciliation Process Developing Forgiveness on a Community Level Forgiveness is often portrayed as a deeply individual process with personal healing as its prime goal.

But individual traumas are often part of a larger societal trauma, and therefore larger change can often come about from healing and forgiveness at both individual and societal levels.

Mark Umbreit, founding director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota, explains his work in restorative justice. The film represents one of the most useful and comprehensive insights available into the practical application of forgiveness and reconciliation at a community level.

This initiative grew out of conflict arising when thousands of Somali refugees settled in the Twin Cities in the early nineties. The result was the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue intended to promote peaceful community building. Peacemaking in this context was a process based on traditional methods of dispute resolution, which is a cornerstone of Native American culture and addresses the need to rebuild relationships between people.

The first meeting between the two communities took place on Martin Luther King Day in At first, only negative feelings were aired as people were able to safely express their pain and fear; but in time and through sharing stories, food and other cultural activities, the two communities discovered they had more similarities than differences. This peacebuilding initiative worked because both communities were able to look at each other in the eye, find respect, and build a relationship with greater understanding.

Moving beyond small, local communities, forgiveness in large-scale peace-building processes that involve two or more opposing social, ethnic, or religious groups can affect the future of a country. It did so in South Africa, where politicians and civic leaders urged large groups of people to forgive other groups with whom they had previously been locked in conflict.

In addition, several public figures spoke out in favor of forgiveness, thus modeling a way forward for the communities they represented.

Nelson Mandela, by publicly forgiving those who had wronged him, became a global symbol for forgiveness, compassion, and peace-building. South Africa Albie Sachs — the anti-apartheid campaigner who lost an arm and was partially blinded in a car bomb in — has spoken about ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation that allowed a nation not to resort to bloody recriminations post-apartheid.

It became possible because millions and millions of African people, despite their hardship, or perhaps because of their hardship, had never lost the deep traditional spirit of ubuntu, a shared sense of humanity: It was a moving encounter, from which we both emerged better human beings.

The key to the encounter was that our country had changed. Ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation, requires dealing with the causes of the conflict. But it can help overcome those causes, and be liberating to the individuals involved in a very personal way. In order to build or rebuild relationships, there must be platforms on which to develop understanding between groups and communities.

Enabling people to embrace tensions in the process of reconciliation and dialogue is the starting point. Dialogue can take place in many settings, such as a national dialogue or within communities across divisions of race, religion, or gender. Dialogue can be practiced in community halls, schools, prisons, and corporate institutions. In this sense, forgiveness is a movement of compassion; and learning to forgive yourself is an important step in learning to become a forgiving person.

Common Stages in the Engagement Process When aggression leads to injury, pain, and shock, people may go through different phases to deal with their hurt. The following stages may apply to the experience, thought processes, and actions of individual victims or perpetrators as well as whole groups: Fear, anger, and revenge may maintain the cycle of violence, through Realization of loss Denial, and suppression of grief and fear Anger: Highlights and lessons from many of these stories are presented below.

However, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone experiences all of these components, nor necessarily in the same order. Forgiveness is not a fixed process and it may have no completion. Triggers throughout life might throw one off course again; therefore it is probably more helpful to think of forgiveness as a direction, rather than a destination.

Some key components to a forgiveness journey These may include: The anger and rage elements of loss must be expressed. Anger naturally arises after being hurt and often needs to be integrated, not rooted out like some bacterial illness. Denial or suppressing anger is a survival strategy that helps some people cope for a while. However, being in denial for too long is unhealthy, as the underlying emotions evoked by a past event may become self-consuming as well as hinder one from moving beyond the initial pain.

Brenda's father pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served two and half years in prison. I still felt a deep level of anger at myself for ever trusting my father, demonstrated by my over-eating. It was while taking a course in spiritual psychology that I recognized how with each negative thought directed at my father I was re-wounding myself.

Through the process of accepting loss and feeling the full force of grief and pain, survivors in time may learn to 1 separate themselves from the events that have happened to them, and 2 integrate these events into their lives, so that the pain of the past becomes a part of who they are without consuming them. England Camilla Carr, who was taken hostage in Chechnya inheld captive for 14 months, and repeatedly raped, says: It can be a lonely and isolating journey to forgive, especially when family or close friends show reluctance towards the idea of embracing forgiveness, e.

Forgiveness takes courage, the willingness to explore the unknown, and resilience that enables one to follow what feels personally right. In Julyhe was violently attacked when he came to the rescue of two Pakistani women who were being racially abused by a passing pedestrian. In spite of this, forgiving has really helped me move forward after the attack. It has been about me, and has nothing to do with the man who attacked me.

Understanding yourself opens up a space for understanding others. This involves giving up the expectation that life owes you something, and instead adopting a broader perspective the realizations that life is morally complicated, that good people do bad things, and that bad things happen to good people. Such a perspective is crucial, because it allows people to have fewer black-and-white expectations of how life and others will treat them.

This way of thinking says: Both were working at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles when they realized they had met 26 years earlier, when a group of teen-aged Nazi punks attacked and beat a gay homeless year-old boy. Matthew Boger was that young boy and Tim Zaal, at age 17, was a member of the group who left Matthew for dead in a West Hollywood alley.

Samantha, at just 18, lost both parents in one fatal blow. Thirteen years later, for the first time since the murder, Samantha visited her dying father in prison. This seems to be the crux of forgiveness: In Letlapa Mphahlele, the man who master-minded the attack, invited Ginn to his homecoming ceremony and asked her to make a speech. Vulnerable feelings, when expressed to other people, have the potential to establish lasting bonds. For some people, remorse is an essential ingredient to forgiving.

For others, it chains the victim to the perpetrator, waiting for something the victim may never receive; therefore it may maintain the power imbalance between perpetrator and victim. Both men now live as neighbors in Rwanda. Philippe says of Teresphore, whom he first encountered at a gacaca community court: He brought food and banana wine.

Again he started crying and repeatedly saying how sorry he was. Eventually I escorted him home. Then my wife and I embarked on the path of true reconciliation.

We wanted to do more than just forgive, but to actually live as neighbors and friends, side by side. We wanted to improve society, to respond to evil with goodness. So now his mother also comes to my home, and we share meals.

This is because, as she said at a conference in South Africa in Acknowledging guilt is hard, because people are uncomfortable with their own shame, and afraid to recognize that they are to blame. Forgiving people, however, also recognize that some wrong-doers are simply unable to face their own shame and therefore cannot take responsibility.

In other words, if you wait for remorse and apology to happen, you may wait forever. England Anne, a victim of sexual abuse, has forgiven the man who repeatedly abused her during her childhood. This is what Rami Elhanan, whose daughter was killed by a suicide bomber in a Jerusalem market inmeans when he says: Frequently Rami gives public talks alongside his Palestinian friends, such as Bassam Aramin, whose year-old daughter, Abir, was killed by an Israeli soldier in Where does forgiveness fit into this difficult dialogue between two bereaved fathers, or two communities at war?

How can you forgive when the power imbalance is so vast and when justice is so far from being achieved? The only real way of affecting change is through heart-to-heart discussion, one person at a time. For Rami, forgiveness is not the solution, but part of a quest to understand what makes a young man so angry that he chooses to blow himself up alongside a group of year-old girls. Crucial to forgiving is not being attached to an outcome and not making assumptions.

People tend to expect others to react like them; they compare their responses to how they would respond; they blame people for not doing what they think they should.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

The feeling was mutual. It was powerful and passionate and we described each other as soul mates. This was going to be the defining relationship of my life. However, just six months later Jack started to behave differently. Sensing something was wrong, I confronted him and he confessed he had strong feelings for someone else.

Our relationship quickly and painfully unravelled. I was stunned, angry, and very upset. I thought of all the special things that Jack had said to me and wondered how his feelings could just have evaporated into thin air. I felt humiliated, betrayed, and profoundly hurt.

Forgiveness - Forgiveness For A Better Relationship

I changed my lens and gained a new perspective. It might simply mean that my needs are greater than theirs. The by-product of this intense pursuit of meaning is that people are able to adapt to circumstances and start to develop new coping skills and new ways of belonging to society. I found comfort there. If there was a place I could find grace, it was in the streets. Conditions under which forgiveness is most likely to occur People must have an opportunity to express their grief and rage in small group work, restorative circles, community courts, etc.

People must be prepared to give something up — e. This is something that can only be encouraged and can only come about through exposure to those with whom you were formerly in conflict.

People must be prepared to see the others as human, like themselves. People must develop the ability to put meaning back into their lives and therefore bring about identity reconstruction.

Engagement in such meaning-making activities rebuilds a self-identity. To conclude our discussion of forgiveness at an individual level, the following story of the over collected and shared by The Forgiveness Project sums up the complex, untidy, and often intangible journey of forgiveness: Forgiveness is a fresh, on-going, ever-present position of the mind, which takes on many different forms.

This will be discussed under the Engaging in the Reconciliation Process heading, just below. Engaging in the Reconciliation Process Developing Forgiveness on a Community Level Forgiveness is often portrayed as a deeply individual process with personal healing as its prime goal. But individual traumas are often part of a larger societal trauma, and therefore larger change can often come about from healing and forgiveness at both individual and societal levels.

Mark Umbreit, founding director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota, explains his work in restorative justice. The film represents one of the most useful and comprehensive insights available into the practical application of forgiveness and reconciliation at a community level.

This initiative grew out of conflict arising when thousands of Somali refugees settled in the Twin Cities in the early nineties.

The result was the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue intended to promote peaceful community building. Peacemaking in this context was a process based on traditional methods of dispute resolution, which is a cornerstone of Native American culture and addresses the need to rebuild relationships between people. The first meeting between the two communities took place on Martin Luther King Day in At first, only negative feelings were aired as people were able to safely express their pain and fear; but in time and through sharing stories, food and other cultural activities, the two communities discovered they had more similarities than differences.

This peacebuilding initiative worked because both communities were able to look at each other in the eye, find respect, and build a relationship with greater understanding. Moving beyond small, local communities, forgiveness in large-scale peace-building processes that involve two or more opposing social, ethnic, or religious groups can affect the future of a country. It did so in South Africa, where politicians and civic leaders urged large groups of people to forgive other groups with whom they had previously been locked in conflict.

In addition, several public figures spoke out in favor of forgiveness, thus modeling a way forward for the communities they represented.

promoting mutual forgiveness within the fractured relationship

Nelson Mandela, by publicly forgiving those who had wronged him, became a global symbol for forgiveness, compassion, and peace-building. South Africa Albie Sachs — the anti-apartheid campaigner who lost an arm and was partially blinded in a car bomb in — has spoken about ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation that allowed a nation not to resort to bloody recriminations post-apartheid. It became possible because millions and millions of African people, despite their hardship, or perhaps because of their hardship, had never lost the deep traditional spirit of ubuntu, a shared sense of humanity: It was a moving encounter, from which we both emerged better human beings.

The key to the encounter was that our country had changed. Ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation, requires dealing with the causes of the conflict. But it can help overcome those causes, and be liberating to the individuals involved in a very personal way. In order to build or rebuild relationships, there must be platforms on which to develop understanding between groups and communities. Enabling people to embrace tensions in the process of reconciliation and dialogue is the starting point. Dialogue can take place in many settings, such as a national dialogue or within communities across divisions of race, religion, or gender.

Dialogue can be practiced in community halls, schools, prisons, and corporate institutions. However, dialogue by itself can be a fairly shallow gesture. To be effective, it has to include: Reconciliation often builds on grassroots initiatives, such as theatre, music, and sport, so that barriers between people can be addressed and broken down.

Other examples might include initiatives such as workshops that promote psychological healing, perhaps offering safe spaces for narrative sharing and storytelling; or social projects that bring together individuals from diverse groups and communities. By so working to effect social change, people also learn to respect each other and to coexist peacefully. An important element of the reconciliation process is the restoration of broken relationships, which may be addressed in various ways.

Utilizing the healing power of sharing stories: Stories of hope in hopeless times can change lives. The Forgiveness Project collects and shares real stories of forgiveness in order to create opportunities for people to consider, examine, and choose forgiveness in the face of atrocity. Its work in restorative storytelling demonstrates that personal narratives can broaden perspectives and bring healing to those impacted — whether victim or perpetrator — as well as motivate others regarding future life choices.

Research has shown that storytelling is a powerful tool for which humans are hard-wired. Storytelling enables individuals and groups to form connections and collaboration at the same time as they overcome differences and defenses. The spiritual teacher Anthony Mello has said: Some other examples follow.

Some Story-Sharing Examples In the 11 years since it was founded, The Forgiveness Project has gained a reputation for using narrative and storytelling techniques as a way to reach across the rifts not only of race, faith, and geography, but also the rifts of enemies. The stories have also appeared in a book, The Forgiveness Project: This organization provides first-hand experiences in forgiveness within the context of violence.

It focuses on organizing public events, featuring speakers who have evolved from victim to survivor in the face of their own internal adversities. This is a good example of the community working together to erase negativity and inspire healing. Compelling examples also come from Rwanda. In that country, alongside the stories of murder and carnage, when neighbors killed neighbors, teachers killed students, and armed gangs across the country at one point reached a killing rate of seven people per minute, it is important to hear stories of people who acted with kindness, empathy, and self-sacrifice.

Rwanda At the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda there is the story of Nsengiyuumra, a Muslim who during the genocide is said to have saved over 30 people by protecting or hiding them in his outhouse. I was going to die any second.

I banged on the door of the yard. It opened almost immediately. He Nsengiyumra took me by the hand and stood in his doorway and told the killer to leave. He said that the Koran says: Developing victim —offender programs: Restorative justice views crime as injury rather than law-breaking, and justice as healing rather than punishment. This restorative justice process demonstrates how individual transformation can lead to societal change.

As participants learn about different aspects of forgiveness and reconciliation, and practice them in their own lives, there is a ripple effect into communities. Creating a safe space for reflection, and creating conditions conducive to questioning and changing attitudes e. Empathy-building is developed through shared dramatic experience of traumatic and authentic stories, in an atmosphere of non-judgmental sharing and humanityusing positive psychological principles and values modelled by facilitators.

That is, one is required to move away from being emotionally and mentally detached and to become mindful and critically reflective. The overall impact of this restorative program can lead to reduced offending behavior both in prison and beyond release; it has been shown to result in fewer victims and offenders amongst participants, their families, and the communities they live in. In these communities, naming and shaming is considered justice, and while forgiveness is imperative, it is not granted without remorse.

This community-healing process of reconciliation and forgiveness addresses the roots of conflict at the local level, and restores dignity to the lives of those who suffered most directly from violence. The work helps war-affected individuals reflect on the past and move forward in ways that avert the renewal of aggressions. By grounding reconciliation in traditional practices, it also helps create healthy communities capable of building new foundations of peace.