Thursday, March 09, 2006

Forgiveness links

Forgiveness quotes

Forgiveness in Islam

The Forgiveness Project

Conflict Resolution Network

Forgiveness in Christian theology

Marie Fatayi-Williams' speech

I am going to explore the subject more over the next week, and welcome any debate or thoughts or links on the subject from commenters.


Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Hi Rachel
I thought i'd look for a few links. I don't know if they will be any help, I hope they are. I hope the article goes well.

March 09, 2006 10:25 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Wow, thanks Davide!

I finished the article last night, but there was too much to say in 1400 words, so I thought, let's all continue the dialogue over here and maybe this can become a small resource for those interested in exploring the issue of forgiveness. It seems to be a topic that is gripping the media at the moment, I think also of the mother of Anthony Wiliams who was killed in a racist attack. There is much to think about...thank you once more.

March 09, 2006 10:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard Oprah Winfrey say something last week, and I stopped and wrote it down.. I'd already thought about sending her words a few days ago, before I saw what you're talking about on your blog.. I don't know if it will make any difference to anyone..
Forgiveness, is accepting there was no hope of things being any different. - Oprah Winfrey

Thru the work I've done against racism, and thru the extreme experiences of my own life, I have learned forgiveness many times. But there is one exception.. Last week I telephoned someone whom I haven't spoken to in over 3 years. I never believed I could feel so badly about another human being.. And I think that people who really know me, would be very surprised I ever felt this way about anyone.. I was mostly silent throughout the entire 30-minute phone call last week, saying only that I knew it was time for me to make this call, but adding that I did not really know the reason why I needed to make it.. I only knew that I had to do it.

I sometimes think we live in a culture of silence. A walk-away-and-leave-it-to-someone-else society. But I knew it was up to me to make the first step. So I did it. I made the call.. And, as it turns out, the person I called has not changed at all – and if anything, is sadly even more malicious towards me than 3 years ago. But I know what I had to do, and I'm glad I found the strength to go right ahead and do it.

Perhaps that's what forgiveness is. It's being able to accept that the act of forgiving might not change anyone or anything, except for our own self, the person who is doing the forgiving. Maybe we must forgive ourselves the most for what we go thru in our own lives, and find the strength to let go of the if-only’s and what-if’s, and accept there was just no hope of things being different. What time once was, is now passed and gone. And what happened in a given moment, always was and was unavoidably, meant to be.

To me, a lack of forgiveness feels like someone is questioning the accuracy and intent of reciprocity. As if to say the law of what-goes-around-comes-around never seems to reach-the-right-people-in-time. I would be lying if I said there are never times when I wonder why reciprocity strikes innocent people so harshly.. The unknown so knowingly.. The voiceless so pointlessly.. The ones who would have lived and gone and been forgotten by the masses.. yet are now remembered not for their unknown lives, but instead for their untimely deaths. Some people say the language of God is silence. Sometimes, I feel like He has a terrible way with words.

The strongest words in Letter To Terrorists were not written by me. But they sing out loud what I truly feel inside - towards anyone who believes in war or terrorism or inhumanity of any kind.

I don’t care where you’ve been or what you plan to do..
I am the resurrection and I am the life
I couldn’t ever bring myself to hate you as I’d like –
(From the chorus of I Am The Resurrection by The Stone Roses)

Hope, for me, is that I can learn to forgive everyone in my life. And that one day I am forgiven by everyone, who has not yet forgiven me. And that like me, those who forgive, can show their forgiveness in their actions. By making the first step. By making the call. Even if they don't know why. They just know they have to.

Hassan, Bradford
March 9 2006

March 09, 2006 10:27 pm  
Blogger Gamba said...

We all have things we need to forgive. Sometimes it feels impossible to do and becomes a burden - some of the things I haven't forgiven have dragged me down for years.
Hassan is right - when you accept that things are the way they are and you can't change the past - all you can do is be hopeful for the future. Acceptance brings peace of mind.

March 10, 2006 9:27 am  
Blogger Dr. Deb said...

Forgiveness is a very important thing to achieve and experience. Getting there is never easy. And some never get there.

March 10, 2006 6:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting links... not as much as hoped on personal forgiveness, as apposed to religious forgiveness (How th pin code to the gates of heaven gets handed out).

One question that doesn't get raised, is what do you do with the sinner who is proud of his/her sin. For example the individuals who tortured and murdered the peace activist chap in Iraq were certainly proud of their actions. If asked they would probably say that they would do it again.

Personally, I would feel a kind of pity for them them - broken souls from a broken culture. By that I mean the Islamonutter culture - a brotherhood of hate and fear that demands the destruction of the Other in all forms.

Mind you I would feel this while they got a sudden drop and a sharp stop. But then again I am much of a Christian, though thanks to private education I got a thorough immersion in the Anglican thing.

March 12, 2006 11:18 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

I ma going to pick up on this agin mid week, as the Clarke/Dad upset has caused a dealy in play. The piece will be in next week's Sunday Times I think, if it doesn't make it I will pop it on the blog instead and continue the debate, because there have been soen great links posted and I think there's a good debate to be held ,. for starters about what forgiveness is for non- Christians, sonce it is a very theologically-loaded word, now mostly carrying Christian connotations in the UK ( though of course it is key to many other faiths as well).

March 12, 2006 7:44 pm  
Blogger Chris Williams said...

Hi Rachel - a few years ago I wrote this article on forgiveness for the newsletter of the Leicester Secular Society:

Forgiveness, Ethics and Secular Humanism
“If there are some crimes that only God can forgive, the old bastard obviously still has a niche somewhere and it’s up to us to drive Him from it.”

by Chris Williams

In late September 2002, the Evangelical Alliance declared a day (a Sunday, of course) ‘Forgiveness Day’. Now, I’m aware that these people are our enemies, but I’m also uncomfortably convinced that we can and ought to learn something from them. They had the whole thing set up with a big poster campaign featuring slogans like ‘God knows it’s hard to forgive’, and pictures of grumpy people holding cups of coffee, cigarettes, etc. They were publicising a social innovation: that we can gain fulfilment in our everyday lives by forgiving people. This is a fine sentiment, and if they have any success with the campaign it will be because there are people who feel a need for forgiveness and reconciliation in their lives.
One thing we needn’t copy: it was clear from the way that they talked about that they thought it was important that God forgives people, and that forgiving people is good because it curries favour with God.
I’m worried that Secularism is too dominated by a tone set by people like myself - intellectual, ideological, cantankerous, old (I’m working on it) bastards with something to prove. People who suffer fools badly and idiots not at all. People who find it easy to oppose things. When I’m engaged in a polemic, or any other struggle, with reactionaries, the deluded, and other forms of idiots and scum who are running and ruining the planet, I like having cantankerous and strong-minded people alongside me, and I like being cantankerous and strong-minded.
On many other occasions, though, it’s a downright nuisance. They are all fine characteristics in moderation but they are not the only ones that we all need to display in order to live beside others as social beings. One word that describes me a lot of the time is ‘unforgiving’.
Christianity has bequeathed a lot of bad things to the world, but one aspect of it that isn’t all bad is the emphasis on forgiveness. People are imperfect, and the world that we have all inherited is thus imperfect also. Forgiveness gives us a chance to draw a line under past screw ups and concentrate on improving the future. The religious maintain that the feeling of inner peace you get from forgiving and moving on is coming direct from God - I think that they are wrong, but that’s not to knock the feeling. Maybe we need to think about what secular notions of forgiveness and apology entail, and how we can spread them. Why should the Christians have all the good tunes?

March 13, 2006 2:41 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi, thank you for the thoughtful posts. Chris that was a fantastic piece, Hassan, yours was too, I am really grateful and moved by your thoughts.

Am continuing subject upstream with more thoughts from other survivors on forgiveness and what I might do is do a meta-post linking all the other bits of this blog that touch on the subject and making it into a linky-resource.

But the complicated stuff will ahve to wait til the weekend I'm afraid...

I have such lovely thoughtful readers. I think this can turn into a really interesting project and I want to showcase yoru contributions, just let me have a think about how best to do that. Unless anyone has any suggestions?

March 14, 2006 2:42 pm  

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