"Forgive us our trespasses": The complexity of forgiveness
Forgiveness is such an obvious part of religious commitments and human sensibility that the conversation around giving and getting forgiveness is often mechanistic, sentimental or superficial. Fortunately, veteran filmmaker Helen Whitney is offering a rare chance to shine a clear light on the question of forgiveness in all its complexities, horror and hope in her two part series entitled: Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate to be shown on April 17th and 24th on PBS stations around the country.
....Whitney's film takes the viewer on a slow roller coaster of emotions. Instead of finding hundreds of talking heads and moving speedily from idea to idea, the documentary lingers on a relatively few cases; letting the viewer sift through the layers of complexity and raw drama. The shooting of the Amish School children, a victim of a brutal attack with an axe, the murder of a police officer by a 1960's revolutionary, a woman knowingly infected with AIDS -- different life situations that challenge the breezy rhetoric of 'forgive and forget' and move deeper into genuine wrestling with the emotional and spiritual demands inherent in forgiveness.
Could you forgive this? Liz Securro's road to forgiveness
from the article by Heide Banks:
Liz Securro knows ﬁrst-hand the consequences of self-judgment and the rewards of self-forgiveness. In her recent book, "Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice," Liz shares her story that spanned 20-plus years and stemmed from a rape she endured in college. You do not have to relate to the magnitude of her circumstances to be able to learn from her journey of self-forgiveness.
....It wasn't until she started dealing with the much deeper issues that she was able to regain herself. At some point it stopped for her. She took the clothes she had, and she burned them in a cemetery. She was tired of being the victim. What she realized was that although something was done to her, what she did to herself was far worse. She was judging herself for her behaviors. Her life really took hold when she was able to forgive herself for all those things that she did, which none of us would have ever judged her for.
We must not forgive too easily, says Archbishop of Canterbury
It may be a key Christian principle but forgiving too easily can be dangerous, the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested.
Rowan Williams has warned that easy forgiveness can make suffering appear not to matter.
In BBC1’s What is the Point in Forgiveness?, to be broadcast on Good Friday, the Archbishop also concedes that it is not fair to expect victims of abuse, rape or torture to turn the other cheek with ease.
Church vandals apologise to congregation
from the article by Rene Gerryts on Bridport News:
Four of the youngsters responsible for vandalising a Bridport church stood before its congregation on Sunday to apologise.
The quartet – whose images were captured on CCTV – agreed to take part in the new Restorative Justice scheme.
....Mr Evans said: “It is the first time I have been involved in this sort of system and it was terrific.
The hardest kind of justice
In countries throughout the world prisons are about to reach capacity, or more commonly, are completely overcrowded. Of those that do manage to get out of prison, in the case of the UK and the US for example, the rate of recidivism hovers around 50 and 60% every year since the mid-nineties. Meaning more than half of all former prisoners never get rehabilitated, never deal with issues of responsibility, trauma and emotion.
Furthermore, legal systems are flooded with cases creating a bottleneck that causes even the smallest of cases to last far longer than they should. When you add to this situation the astronomical costs of the average criminal justice system, it is easy to see that increasingly, governments have reached a breaking point. On the other side of the coin are the victims. Between the judges and the lawyers the average victim has a limited role in the very trial that is supposed to provide them with some sense of resolution and justice.The trauma that comes with the pain and suffering can last a lifetime.
Storytelling: Simple but profound
I hesitate to write about storytelling and restorative justice as a lot of people have written about the profound impact of this form of communication. A quick search for the term “storytelling” on Restorative Justice Online returns 29 different entries by people such as Kris Miner and Kay Pranis. Yet, I’ve recently been reminded of how important storytelling can be not only in communication but for an individual processing through pain and loss.
I remember talking with a woman who had lost her son in an automobile accident that involved drunk driving. She expressed a series of emotions ranging from grief to anger to denial. In telling me about the impact of her son’s death, she also described her anger and frustration with the criminal justice system in that her family was denied an opportunity to tell their story. She summed up all this in saying that they deserved the right to have the conference with the young man who had been driving that day. They deserved to be able to tell him how profoundly that one night had changed their lives.
'Why I confronted the man who raped me’
Dr Claire Chung, who has agreed to waive her anonymity in The Sunday Telegraph, was raped twice in the stinking stairwell of a multi-storey car park, and the crime caused her life to collapse “like a pack of cards”.
Dr Chung, a highly regarded GP with more than 20 years’ medical experience, lost her job, her marriage and her home after being raped by Stephen Allen Gale, who had been released from prison for another sexual offence just one day earlier.
But following the attack, which she described in chilling detail, Dr Chung negotiated with the authorities to allow a meeting with Gale in prison.
The meeting was organised as part of a “restorative justice” scheme, which brings criminals face to face with their victims.
Victims confront thief in jail
from the article in The Northern Echo:
The meeting was arranged by police as part of a restorative justice project and Mrs Turnbull, 57, of Deneside, had second thoughts about going along.
She said: “I had decided I was not going to go. I felt as if I could not face meeting him.
“It was only because the police turned up on my doorstep to pick me up that I went along because I did not want to waste their time.”
Mrs Turnbull spent 90 minutes with the offender in Durham Prison, where he is serving a five-year sentence.
Interview with Professor Nicola Lacey
Professor Nicola Lacey is a Senior Research fellow and Professor of criminal theory at All Souls College, University of Oxford. She was in New Zealand recently to give the 2010 Shirley Smith Address on the subject of the Politics of Punishment. We took the opportunity to pick her brain.
....Rethinking: Someone said something to me the other day about how if we are going to put the requirements of victims in this process it should be their needs, rather than their wants.
NL: Exactly. You need to have the debate about which needs can legitimately be met by the criminal justice process.
Non-formal education in the Middle East: Giving adolescents a second chance
In May 2005 violence exploded during a soccer game among students who had just enrolled in their town’s first NFE class. Angry over a lost goal, Humam kicked his younger teammate Ayman to the ground. This kind of violence early in the programme jeopardized the entire approach to alternative education. Ayman was a shy, defenseless boy. Other boys like him might feel threatened, and the safety of the learning environment might dissolve if violence went unchecked.
The teaching facilitators decided that the violent incident would best be resolved by the students themselves ruling on justice for the harmed and a penalty for the offender. They announced a trial – with students taking the roles of judge, jury, prosecution and defense – and explained the legal process to the two boys and the other students.