Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Tragedy in Tucson

As with the rest of the nation I was heartbroken about the events which took place Saturday, January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. Senseless killings of such promising lives. A 9 year old girl who was so exceptional in many ways – gone – never to have the chance to share her many gifts with the world. There was the 30 year old staffer who gave his life in service to the democracy he loved. There was the judge who by all accounts was a very thoughtful man guided by a deep faith which he practiced beautifully. Then a husband gave his life to protect his wife. And 2 other women so loved by their family. And of course there is Gabrielle Giffords – where this nation is sending heartfelt prayers for a miraculous recovery. She is an incredible human being who believes so much in upholding democracy – a dedicated congresswoman who wanted to meet with her constituency as she always does. Saturday was truly a tragedy and yet I have also been touched by such heroism.

People are asking is there anything we can learn from the events which took place on Saturday. As a clinical psychologist who works with trauma victims I can’t help but to go over the events of that day. And what about the killer? What motivated him to act out in such vengeful ways? It is so easy to be outraged by his actions. The harder thought to swallow is that everyone that day was a victim and that as a society we have a responsibility to make sure that something like this never happens again. Yes, what the killer did was horrific and he needs to be held accountable for his actions – and he will. we also need to ask ourselves how have we failed as a society to help those so called “lone wolves” who show signs of mental distress which go unheeded. Jared Lougner was described by many as a disturbed youth but nowhere was there a report that anyone cared enough to stop and get him the help he needed long before Saturday’s tragedy. What does that say about us? We are so quick to say anything that comes to mind and call them facts when what we are really doing is making noise defending our position about something at the expense of others. After all talk is really cheap these days and few seem to care about the power of their words and the harmful effects it may have on others. What has happened to our emotional maturity? It seems to me it is going down the tubes. I even begin to wonder if we value civility any more.

This brings me to my last point about healing. So much healing is necessary because of the tragedy that took place on Saturday. We need to grieve for the senseless deaths of all those beautiful people. We also need to grieve for what happened to Gabrielle Giffords and all those who were injured. And what about the killer? He too needs to be included in the healing circle. Can we open our hearts enough to ask the question – why him – what has happened in this mans life that has created so much pain which contributed to his acting out where he was filled with so much hatred that he had to take other people’s lives. Only a twisted mind can create such carnage. Can we learn to forgive so we don’t add to the hatred in this world? Can we learn to forgive and do something positive, something healing so all those lives that were lost and all those who are dealing with agonizing pain will not have suffered in vain. If we can open our hearts to having a little willingness to forgive then perhaps we can be part of the solution and not the problem. And if we can begin to think a bit about forgiveness in our own personal lives and grow in understanding and compassion then we may have begun to take the important steps in healing our society and possibly the world.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Speaking at UN on forgiveness was great. Will be in India working with Tibetans teaching forgiveness. Be back mid June.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back from Rome. Worked on"Council for Forgiveness" go to for more info. Awesome

The Council For Dignity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

During the week of April 19, 2010 I was in Rome attending meetings as a member of the Council for Dignity, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation. Created by Maria Nicoletta Gaida the Council is part of the Ara Pacis Initiative initiated by the Glocal Forum Italy Foundation and promoted by the City of Rome with the High Patronage of the Republic of Italy and under the auspices of the Prime Minister and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ara Pacis Initiative is dedicated to the human dimension of peace before, during and after conflict. This project has attracted the active interest of the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and has been favorably received by H.M. Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco.

The project aims to launch an active reflection on forgiveness, in its various religious and cultural meanings, as a moral, spiritual and political tool for achieving reconciliation among peoples – with a particular focus on the Mediterranean and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an initiative that will bring to light and recognize the root causes of contemporary suffering and the wounds buried deep in collective memory in order to restore dignity to those who have suffered, thereby creating the premise for a reconciliation that allows for the building of a common future.

The heart of the Ara Pacis Initiative is the Council for Dignity, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation, made up primarily of men and women who have suffered personally because of armed conflict and who have chosen the path of forgiveness, and forgiveness and reconciliation experts and practitioners who work to imagine a new community, to propose the way of political forgiveness, and to develop ongoing activities aimed at raising awareness of the necessity of working on the path of forgiveness/reconciliation through education as well as intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in all fields. Through concrete projects the Council will aim to transform relations between communities in conflict to help them take the paths of reconciliation. The work of the Council will be to share their knowledge, experiences and insight concerning dignity, forgiveness and reconciliation, and initiating projects such as sending small teams of experts to promote approaches rarely used, but dramatically necessary – like forgiveness with justice, restoring dignity, and healing from trauma.

The Council will work in strict coordination with the national and international diplomatic channels and in collaboration with grassroots organizations active on the ground – on initiatives promoting reflection and participation of the various populations in the area of forgiveness. It will guide the activities related to the gathering and documenting of testimonies of conflict victims to memorialize them, as well as the selection of representatives of the victims from all sides – as victimization from hate and violence leaves no side untouched – to participate in the Council’s hearings.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Council for Dignity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

I will be working on the creation of a "Council for Dignity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation" in Rome from April 18- 26. The people on the council are a group of wise and authoritative human beings who could lead the world down the paths of understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation; a body which proposes a new form of justice, which symbolically unites the human family and is at the service of peoples in conflict, that they should not be left alone in the folly of hatred and injustice; so that dignity and forgiveness can be striven for even in the heart of darkness, so that voices of sanity and of light may be heard when calls for punishment and revenge suffocate even the remotest desire for peace, so that historical wrongs, contemporary greed, spiritual derailment and the power to humiliate can be revealed and addressed in order to create space for reconciliation. I will speak more about this when I return from Rome.

For more information on forgiveness please go to "Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness" published by McGraw-Hill and to the blog on forgiveness:
Your Forgiveness Moment Will be in Rome working on Council for Forgiveness and Reconciliation Back April 28

Tuesday, March 30, 2010