Archive for the ‘General Information’ Category

h1

MPT Loses a Bright Light of Peace

March 28, 2013

We are sad to announce the sudden passing of MPT former staff member, Joyce Jackson. Joyce joined us as a part of the Experience Works program, was an integral part of a number of our Domestic peace teams, joined our Core Community (MPT’s version of a Board of Directors), and was in the process of becoming one of our nonviolence skills trainers.Image

Joyce Jackson was born August 12, 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee to Bernice Berry and S. T. Jackson. She was educated in the Memphis City school system and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Wayne State University. Joyce moved to Lansing in 2007 and was a pillar of the community. Joyce was employed by the City of Detroit at the Northwest Activities Center as the Assistant Personnel Manager. Joyce was on the Core Community (Board of Directors) of the Michigan Peace Team. She gave her heart to Meals-On-Wheels through the Department of Human Services, where she was an Assistant Administrator. Joyce loved to travel, read, shop, and attend dance concerts and spend special moments with family and friends. She also loved attending church. She personally believed in education and educating others. She was preceded in death by her father, S.T. Jackson and brother, Robert Jackson. Joyce went home to be with the Lord on March 16, 2013. She leaves to cherish her memory: her children, Marcia Renee Myers, John L. (Tammie) Meyers, and Anthony Jackson; grandchildren, Amanda Meyers, Priscilla Williams, Tanisha, Lakita, LeTisha, and Marlosha Adams, Shakita, Shamika, Jeremy L., Johnny L., Terrica, Jermayned Myers, and Reginald Benton; 12 great-grandchildren; sisters, Carolyn J. (Alvin) Holifield, Elenora J Garden, Marilyn (Awing) Jackson; brothers, Nathanial (Sheila) Jackson, Darrell Jackson, Bernard Jackson, and Stanley (Ann)Jackson; step-father, Sam Calloway; partner, Jay Mitchell of Belleville, Michigan; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Joyce Jackson – beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, friend, wise woman and peacemaker – will indeed be greatly missed.

h1

Hell and Back Again

February 1, 2013
88 Mins. Documentary, Docuramafilms

88 Mins.
Documentary, Docuramafilms

Hell and Back Again is a touching film following Sergeant Nathan Harris and his regiment in Afghanistan, documented by photojournalist Danfung Dennis in 2009. As a sequel to the World War II documentary of Audie Murphy, this documentary depicts an important aspect of war that is often forgotten or under-articulated in the media. Danfung Dennis was working in Iraq and Afghanistan for several years prior, taking pictures for the media, he felt that society was becoming numb to the horrific events of the war due to the monotonous way they were shown. Dennis was determined to obtain a different perspective, one where people could actually understand what was occurring on the ground in Afghanistan, so as to bring renewed interest and a personal aspect. In achieving this goal, Danfung Dennis found Echo Company 2nd battalion 8th regiment. The documentary goes back and forth presenting scenes of Marines fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and the post-service life of a Marine from Echo Company who was injured in battle. Sergeant Nathan Harris, with the support of his wife Ashley, works to heal a gunshot wound to his hip that left him unable to walk normally. This rare combination of first-hand live action, coupled with the opportunity to see the candid, direct effects of war on a Marine once he has returned home is both an honor and a heart-wrenching experience. Hell and Back Again has won the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has gained praise from many critics. AMC’s filmcritic.com calls it “one of the greatest war films of this generation”, and the New York Post’s Vincent Musetto said it is “stunning… a breathlessly paced look at the realties of war”.

            The Marines of the United States are trained to be experts in the application of violence, as voiced in the documentary. Their strategy is to become the offensive player and take control of the population outside the grasp of the Taliban. In the first of the numerous battle scenes shown, shooting erupts from an unknown area and we experience the first death of the film. Lance Corporal Sharp, nicknamed “Sharpie” by his comrades, had been shot. His fellow Marines carry him out of the gunfire and tend to his wound; however, he is unable to be revived. Sergeant Nathan Harris becomes his successor, leading the platoon through the next 6 months as Dennis’s journey with them begins. The film alternately turns to the future when the Marine’s return home on a bus. Their loved ones are waiting for them while holding up signs. There is a overwhelming abundance of hugging, kissing, and tears of joy shared within the group. However, Sergeant Nathan Harris has been severely wounded just prior to his planned return home and is not able to attend the homecoming. Sergeant Harris is not brought home with his fellow men in a spectacle of celebration, but sent home from the hospital in a wheelchair with a handful of addictive prescriptions such as oxycontin and morphine.

            After his injury, Sergeant Nathan Harris is no longer able to be completely independent. He relies on his wife for many things, such as helping him change clothes or getting his medicine from the pharmacy. He has to use a machine on his leg for 8 hours each day to stretch the muscles, and the intense pain makes him physically sick. Even through this, Harris says at the Pain Management Clinic that he does not have a problem with his injury because he was prepared and knew what it would be like to come home, and later he reiterates that he is just glad it wasn’t a chest injury. From the soldiers’ perspective, the importance of defending the United States is unquestionable;  however, the methods being used to wage war are leaving a generation of men with physical and psychological hindrances. This is shown in the documentary through the course of Nathan Harris’s physical training, which makes him ill from the pain, as well as his unprovoked aggravated behavior. The physical toll is exampled after touring a potential house with a realtor; Nathan Harris finds himself in too much pain to walk and must take pain medication. In a very sobering scene, Harris goes to the funeral of thirteen fallen soldiers. There is a long line of Marines seen honoring their dead comrades. To look not only at the major physical damage, including the deaths and injuries, Mrs. Harris describes her husband’s behavior since his injury. She acknowledges that he has become a completely different person, his temper has left him as someone whom when she looks at she sees emptiness instead of her husband.

In the Bonus Feature, Invisible Wounds, a professional stresses to the soldiers the importance of seeking help instead of keeping everything inside. Stress injuries are nothing to be ashamed of. As spoken by Sergeant Harris, these men must accept the possibility of death as a real option.  No matter how well prepared, there is still the possibility that you could lose your life on a daily basis.

            Harris’s change of emotional stability is clear with his quick, aggravated mood changes. As Nathan Harris and his wife search for a parking spot at the local Walmart, a frequent action of daily life, Nathan becomes abrupt and frustrated. He says looking for a parking spot while it is crowded stresses him out and he would rather be back with his platoon in Afghanistan fighting then worrying about such stressful things. This statement is not logical to people who have not suffered such trauma. This odd behavior is brought up again when going through a drivethough and Sergeant Harris becomes unnecessarily aggravated when people talk over each other or interrupt; unable to function with his frustration he simply puts his head between his hands. Another strange habit of Sergeant Harris is his unique relationship with his gun. He constantly has it with him throughout the documentary, whether in the car or at home, and even chooses to keep it under his mattress with the handle ready for him to grab. Gun use is an extremely controversial topic in today’s society but Sergeant Harris does not shy away from displaying his weapon. This could be emulating his fear that built during his active duty and his current need to feel protected. Physical wounds are clear and there is a exact way they must be treated; however, psychological problems are equally as pressing while socially less recognized. The possibility of a stress disorder or other psychological impact is quite real when soldiers return from the war, a consequence that is brought up in the bonus features Did You Kill Anyone? Families ask how to handle their newly home soldiers; this is an excellent source for anyone who has had a loved one in the military.

            There is a significant disconnect between the goals of the United States to help Afghan villagers and how these locals perceive the militias presence that is brought up in Hell and Back Again. This can definitely be partially blamed on the cultural and language barriers that exist. The United States Marines constantly reiterate what President Obama says during a speech in the documentary. The United States does not want to occupy or rule Afghanistan, such as the Soviets or Al-Qaeda fighters did; they simply want to end the suffering and become partners. In this sense, the ultimate goal is long-term and results in peace, whereas the villagers see the short-term threat of being moved from their villages, unable to farm, and fearing the safety of their children. They see the temporary occupation as a bother that continuously brings the Taliban into their region. Each side has a valuable point. Afghanistan has long been under foreign occupation and needs encouragement to build a sustainable infrastructure; however, the use of firefights and violence is costing lives of many American soldiers as well as disrupting the lives of the innocent civilians. After his time in the Marines, Sergeant Harris explains his belief that the big picture is lost within the fighting. He supports that the Marines are rightfully dedicated to defending America but using this form of defense also has major costs, as he first-handedly experiences.

Lauren Mooradian, MPT Intern

Resources:

  • Hell and Back Again. Dir. Danfung Dennis. Perf. Sergeant Nathan Harris and Ashley Harris. Docuramafilms, 2011. DVD.
  • Willie Nelson – Hell and Back   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXAmeY0b52M  – Comments by Marine’s in Echo Company during this period
  • Bonus Feature– Blue Star Families PSA: The experience of war is unimaginable to those of us who have not experiences it first-hand. Your loved ones may not know what it’s like but there are people out there who do, contact them.
  • MSNBC Interview (Dylan Ratigan) with Danfung Dennis   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31510813/#44792225
  • Hell and Back Again Trailer   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luoc9UM-G40
h1

Statement on Israel’s Operation “Pillar of Defense”

November 19, 2012

Michigan Peace Team supports JVP’s Statement, which reads:

As Israel launches operation “Pillar of Defense” in Gaza, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) calls for an immediate cessation of the air strikes and naval bombardment into Gaza and an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza. JVP urges Israel not to exploit its asymmetric power to exacerbate the instability in the region. We urge President Obama to  take a stand against these attacks and to use the power of the United States to insist that Israel pursue all diplomatic measures possible for the sake of life, safety and security on all sides. JVP opposes all attacks on civilians, and urges the end of rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel, which only serve to derail efforts for a just resolution to the conflict.

This operation is named in reference to a  biblical passage in which a pillar of cloud protects the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after leaving bondage in Egypt.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night.    – Exodus 13:21                                                                                   

It is unseemly to invoke the protection afforded the Israelites wandering in the desert when Israel is the dominant military power in the region. JVP rejects the possibility that such a military operation and escalation of violence will be of any protection for Israelis or Palestinians. As Israel continues to control Gaza by air, land and sea, Israel holds responsibility for the well-being and safety of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who will be traumatized, injured and killed through this escalation of violence. 

JVP calls on our chapters, members, and supporters to join us in redoubling our efforts to advocate for an end to the U.S.’s unconditional military aid to Israel and to intensify our calls for divestment from all companies that profit from this escalation of violence and Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza.

You can follow live updates from Gaza here: https://twitter.com/theIMEU/watching-gaza


Image________________________________________________________________________
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law.
With offices in New York and California, over 100,000 supporters and 30 chapters, a Rabbinic Cabinet, and a youth wing, JVP’s board of advisors includes Tony Kushner, actor Ed Asner, writer Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and activists.  

http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

h1

We Have Not Heard the Last Word!

August 31, 2012

By Elizabeth Walters

MPT Staff Member & Peace Team Member for Michigan Peace Team in Gaza

Image

The verdict came on August 28, 2012, when the Israeli Court declared that the military is free of blame and absolved of any wrongdoing with regards to the death of twenty-three year old Rachel Corrie on March 16, 2003. The investigation concluded that Corrie’s death was an accident and that she had endangered herself by entering a combat zone. Simply stated the court believes that Rachel chose to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and that is why she died.

Days before the verdict, at a meeting at the US embassy in Tel Aviv the ambassador, Dan Shapiro, told Rachel Corrie’s parents and her sister that the government did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been “thorough, credible and transparent”, as had been promised by Israel. (The Guardian, Friday 24 August 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/24/israel-rachel-corrie-us-ambassador

I join with people around the planet who are shocked and dismayed by this verdict.

Beginning of MPT’s Involvement:

My concern and commitment date back to the beginning. In early June 2003, Mary Ann Ford, Jim Noble and I arrived in Rafah, Gaza two and a half months after Rachel’s death and shortly after peace team member Tom Hurndall was shot in the head and journalist Jim Miller had been killed by Israeli military personnel. Also, Mary Ann and I returned to Rafah, Gaza during Operation Rainbow in 2004. In both instances, local people in Rafah, Gaza had invited Michigan Peace Team to come. Once in Rafah we were able to monitor and document human rights violations and carry out other aspects of our peace team work.

Also we were committed personally to investigate the circumstance surrounding Rachel’s death. We interviewed eye witnesses including members of the peace team of which Rachel was a part. We went to the site of Rachel’s death. In addition, we gathered, organized, and studied documents, photos and videos regarding Rachel’s death that were in the peace team office and at key agencies that had been involved in investigating the death of Rachel.

Here are some of our findings

1.   Rachel Corrie was in the right place at the right time. She was doing what people are called to do worldwide: to nonviolently protect people, homes and neighborhoods from unjust and illegal demolitions. The Israeli military was destroying homes and neighborhoods in spite of international condemnations, and concerns about violations of human rights and international law.

 2.   The dictates of human rights, international law, and moral code enjoin military personnel to make a distinction between civilians and the military and to ensure the safety of unarmed civilians.

 3.   Eyewitness accounts and documents confirm that the Israeli military was given every opportunity to be aware of the presence of the nonviolent peace team on the ground on March 16, 2003 because:

•        Rachel Corrie wore a reflector vest and the whole team wore bright clothing;

•        These nonviolent protesters posted signs for all to see regarding their presence and protest against home demolitions that day; and,

•        The peace team was using a bull horn to announce their presence and to urge the military to stop destroying the homes of Palestinians.

4.   Rachel Corrie and the whole peace team were unarmed and nonviolent. The military was armed, moving in armored vehicles, and guarded by tanks and gun towers. Clearly there was no threat to the soldiers.

5.   The ISM peace team’s expectation that they would not be shot or crushed by the military during their nonviolent protest was in my view a reasonable expectation at that time.

In spite of these findings and hundreds more, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer on March 16, 2003 and years later, on August 28, 2012, in response to the civil suit brought to court by the parents of Rachel Corrie, the Israeli court declared the Israeli military free of blame and absolved from any wrongdoing with regard to Rachel’s death.

Today the Haaretz Digital Edition is reporting that Corrie’s mother, Cindy, put it this way at a news conference following the court ruling:

“The state has worked extremely hard to make sure that the full truth about what happened to my daughter is not exposed, and that those responsible for her killing are not held accountable.”

(Haaretz, August 31, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/double-take/what-the-rachel-corrie-case-reveals-about-israeli-justice.premium-1.461938)

As mentioned earlier, Mary Ann and I served on MPT peace teams in Rafah, Gaza during 2003 and 2004 and I went back to Gaza on another team in 2005 with Karen Donahue and Mary Miner. Our MPT peace teams lived and worked among the people of Gaza, and along with the people, we experienced firsthand the horror of the occupying military forces.

Here are some of our lived experiences: Sealed shut, by land, sea, and air, Gaza was and is the largest prison in the world. The Israeli military continued destroying Palestinian neighborhoods, seizing land, and declaring military zones in Palestinian neighborhoods. Throughout this process, when shooting from the gun towers, tanks, helicopters the military operated as if there was little or no distinction between civilians and military personnel. Many Palestinians died at the hands of the Israeli military and more than 2000 Palestinian homes were destroyed at the border to create the so-called Philadelphia Corridor. Also, we and Palestinians living in Gaza endured Operation Rainbow in 2004.

Then in 2007, after MPT was prevented from entering Gaza, the Israeli military invaded Gaza and conducted Operation Cast Lead.

In light of both Rachel’s death AND the on-going misery of the people of Gaza it is impossible for me to believe or accept that the Israeli military is blameless and absolved of any wrongdoing.

For years, the situation in Gaza and Rachel’s death has had a lasting effect on my life and the lives of many others. We continue to remember the commitment to active nonviolence so evident in Rachel and in many Palestinian people in Gaza. In that same spirit we continue to resist nonviolently on behalf of human rights, peace, and social justice.

In closing, I want to share with you my message to the parents of Rachel Corrie:

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Corrie!

I am grateful beyond words that you to seek justice regarding your daughter’s death while continuing to speak on behalf of Palestinians.

Do not lose heart. Know that the truth IS breaking through and a light shines on your work. Know too that the courage and love of your daughter Rachel continues to inspire and move us to action on behalf of justice for Palestinians. Know too that we have not heard the last word! The arc of history bends toward nonviolent resistance, peace, and social justice.

Your sister, Elizabeth Walters, MPT Peace Team Member who witnessed the horror of the Israeli military in Gaza during 2003, 2004, and 2005

h1

I AM The Documentary | Official Site

January 10, 2012

I AM The Documentary | Official Site.

Don’t miss this!  It really could be life-changing.
PeqB8JwpdE4?version=3″>

h1

MPT Stands With the Majority of Americans: Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed

August 29, 2011

Watch this brief video clip for a synopsis of what OCTOBER 2011 is all about:

WE HOPE YOU’LL JOIN US!

h1

Nonviolence Through Forgiveness

April 21, 2011

In October of 2006, a gunman angry with God entered an Amish one room school house in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania and proceeded to shoot 10 girls, fatally wounding five of them before taking his own life.  The community immediately made it a point to show their forgiveness for this man’s acts, even traveling to the gunman’s home to embrace and console his now widowed wife and fatherless children.  Twelve years earlier and oceans away, an entire ethnic population, divided and empowered by historically engrained colonial ideals, turned on their friends and neighbors engaging in the most brutal and horrific genocide in the history of the world.  In the 1994 Rwandan genocide, approximately 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically slaughtered (Human Rights Watch).  In 2004, tens of thousands of prisoners who had confessed to the brutal murders were released and began to be integrated back into society.  They confessed their crimes again and were held accountable in Gacaca, small community courts.  A major aspect of these Gacaca is the plea for forgiveness from the families (or what is left of the families) of the innocent people they murdered.  In an overwhelming amount of cases, the murderers have been forgiven, integrated back into the community and even embraced.

These incredible acts of forgiveness are almost astonishing in their seeming impossibility.  How is it that people can ever be willing to offer forgiveness after such atrocities, and what is the point of these offerings of forgiveness?  These are perhaps rhetorical questions, with answers that change from time to time and from person to person.  However, we must make no mistake; this incredible forgiveness has been granted, and hearts have been healed by it.  Tolstoy once said “Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace”.  It is evident within the peace community that forgiveness is a pivotal part of living a non-violent life, creating and maintaing peace within ourselves and worldwide.  An incredible documentary that does an outstanding job outlining the importance of forgiveness in our every day lives is “The Power of Forgiveness” produced by Martin Doblmeier.  This compelling film includes interviews with Reverend James Forbes, Thich Nhat Hanh and Alexandra Asseily among others.  It details instances across the globe where forgiveness has been especially important, such as within the Amish community, individuals surviving the loss of loved ones in the attacks of 9/11, through South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions with Desmond Tutu.  The film shows as these communities and individuals wrestle with the prospect of forgiveness, and thereby sent me on my own personal journey to discover what forgiveness means to me, and to the wider international community as well as how we can and must use it on the path to peace.

The film emphasizes that we must first however establish a forgiving relationship with ourselves in order to access the power available through the pain of forgiving others.  This, however, is much easier said than done and necessitates an extreme amount of work, both inner and outer.  Thich Nhat Hanh explains that the act of forgiveness begins within ourselves.  “Forgiveness cannot be possible until compassion is born in the heart.”  He goes on to say “if you are filled with anger, what you do and what you say will create more suffering for yourself and the other person”.  When we are put in the situation where forgiveness is even an option there is often an incredible amount of pain and suffering weighing down our minds and precluding the process of moving on as a whole person.  If not addressed within an individual, even the memory of hurt is likely to be passed onto our children, barring the chance for reconciliation in future generations.  We can only teach our children forgiveness by not allowing our hatred and grudges to be passed onto them.  This is only possible after we have addressed and dealt with the pain, anger and hurt that has been inflicted upon us.

We all feel pain within our hearts at many points throughout our life.  Life innately holds suffering and often times this suffering is created and fed by our own minds.  A perfect example is the world’s infatuation with body type and how engrained this image is in our minds.  We often see individuals in magazines and billboards with what we’ve come to accept as the “perfect” body.  We compare ourselves to this type and find differences that we label flaws (larger hips, smaller chest, wider eyes) and exploit them.  We constantly bash these flaws and refuse to allowourselves to forgive our body and thereby embrace it’s shapes.  All too often, young girls punish themselves instead of forgiving and embracing, by starving their limbs.  Subsequently, in 20 years when this disease of the mind effects their everyday lives as well as those of their children they refuse to forgive themselves for what they’ve done to their body.  This endless cycle of hatred and refusal to forgive only breeds harm.  It is important to start with forgiveness, but when this is not possible we must interrupt the cycle of hate with forgiveness.  People and their bodies are not perfect and when we are able to see that, we can see that forgiveness is the only path.  One may strive to be perfect, but they will never reach their goal, and so they must turn to forgiveness to ameliorate the pain they may inflict upon themselves in pursuance of this goal.  We must reach deep within ourselves to discover how we are hurting ourselves with fear, pain and anger, then acknowledge how these feelings are effecting our minds, embrace the feelings, forgive ourselves, and move on, changing our actions accordingly.

Once our inner hearts and minds are free from the chains we bar ourselves with, we are free to embark on the journey of freeing ourselves from the chains imposed by the pain others have inflicted upon us.  It is important to note that often the forgiving of others can and should be a selfish act.  The weight that is carried with pain, fear and anger can be immensely heavy.  When one forgives, this crushing weight can finally be lifted and we are rewarded physically as well as physiologically.

Desmond Tutu suggests that we do not think of forgiveness as forgetting.  These two concepts are not linked; forgiveness is how you remember and what it is you do with that memory.  In forgiving, we are ridding ourselves of negative feelings for people.  These negative feelings only breed more suffering and so in ridding ourselves of them we are helping ourselves to feel relieved, lighter and physically and mentally more healthy!  Our blood pressure even goes down!  Forgiving does not, however, mean we accept whatever has been done.  As far as an action is concerned, we may “condemn” that action, but it is important to be able to distinguish between action, and actor.  An actor who is condemned and treated poorly in return for the negative thing they’ve done will never change.  However, by separating the actor from the action, we can show compassion to the actor, and toward the action we can use our anger constructively to stop further negative action.  Only if a person feels compassion toward them will they discontinue hurtful action.  We can yell, scream, hate and condemn the action which has been done, but when this anger is transferred to the actor in this manner, the victim is also committing a painful action upon a person and has done nothing to preclude the action, but spread the pain and grief it carries to others.  By accepting an apology, we recognize that the action and actor are not the same and are now able to acknowledge the real cause of pain; the action.

There have been some remarkable uses of painful memories that have served to move along the process of healing and forgiveness yet condemn the painful action to national memory.  One such use is in the building of the September 11th memorial and museum on the site of the World Trade Centers.  These will serve as an area for individuals directly and indirectly impacted by the attacks to reflect on their experiences and the possibility of forgiveness.  One similar such structure was dreamed up by Alexandra Asseily (governor and founder of the Centre for Lebanese Studies, Oxford and on the Board of the Guerrand Hermes Peace Foundation, Balamand University and a former member of the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University).  After witnessing painful civil war in Lebanon from 1975 to 1991 she worked with internationally acclaimed archaeologists, architects and engineers to construct a Garden of Forgiveness in central Beirut among numerous cathedrals and mosques.  The garden encourages individuals effected by the devastating civil war to embark on the journey of forgiveness.  These efforts are wonderful expressions of compassion and help to facilitate the decline of infectious hate throughout our world, by catalyzing a journey of forgiveness for so many individuals.

The breadth of forgiveness is incredible.  It reaches through so many religions, traditions and ways of life that it is almost impossible to ignore its significance.  First, the Christian bible and teachings speak heavily of forgiveness.  A major part of Christian faith is the belief that the Christian God is a forgiving God.  After all, he gave his only son for the forgiveness of the sins of humanity.  Forgiveness is also extremely evident in Islam.  Allah is known by many names throughout the Quran, most of which have to do with forgiveness. The most common of which possibly is Al-Ghafoor; the most forgiving.  It is forgiveness that all Muslims seek, and it is forgiveness they receive and learn through to give, praying five times a day for it.  Jews around the world set aside two whole holidays each year for forgiveness.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur among others, are days of atonement and repentance, asking for and granting forgiveness.  Hinduism is the third largest world religion and also boasts a breadth of text urging forgiveness.  Hindus believe in the concept of Karma; a kind of cosmic reward for positive behavior, or punishment for deviance.  Through this thinking, adherents believe that by forgiving others they will personally be rewarded in the future or a future life through karma.  In The Mahabharata, a largely philosophical and devotional Indian text heavily laden with Hindu insights and teachings we find the following quote, just one of many referring to the positive outcomes of forgiveness in Hinduism and can be applied to religions around the world.

“Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve?  An unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities.  Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness.” (Vidura addressing Dhritarshtra)

No matter what faith we come from, what God(s) we pray to, or what books we read, forgiveness is the ultimate proprietor of peace.  We are in a time when peace seems ever more indispensable to the existence of humanity, yet seems to be slipping through our outstretched hands faster than we can clench our fists.  In the current time, the act of forgiveness is a beacon of luminous sunlight we must embrace in order to heal our souls and attempt to harmonize our world.  Peace must begin within ourselves by tackling the evils of our souls and forgiving ourselves the discrepancies we as humans are apt to commit against ourselves.  Once we are able to become whole, the forgiveness we experience within ourselves can then shine out upon others, as out stretched hands to join together with neighbors, friends and foes to spread the hope for peace around the globe.

Pivotal pieces for further learning about forgiveness and the areas written about above: 

“The Power of Forgiveness” (2007) Produced and Directed by Martin Doblmeier

“As We Forgive” (2009) Produced and Directed by Laura Waters Hinson

“Amish Grace” (TV 2010) Directed by Gregg Champion

The Fetzer Institute, accessible at:  www.fetzer.org

National Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Rwanda, accessible at:  www.nurc.gov.rw

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, accessible at:

http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/legal/index.htm

“Emotional Awareness: A Conversation Between The Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, Ph.D” written by Paul Ekman, New York: Times Books.

Kellie Brandt-MPT Intern

%d bloggers like this: