Forgiveness is the Bridge to Peace

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In the footsteps of my teachers, true alchemists, spiritualists, and peacekeepers, I have been taught a new way of life over the last year that is based on building bridges designed to carry adversaries to a place of alliance, and to bring issues confronting and challenging our Humanity to a common gateway.  “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together,” stated the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

This is the Jesus Model of Leadership.  Under the Jesus Model, one washes the feet of those walking in front of one’s self.  It’s akin to the adage, “A general leads from the rear.”

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The Jesus Model was taught using the Socratic Method, with my teachers often serving as mirrors or teaching by way of opposites.   While personal and spiritual work are a forever process, I have come to understand that true leadership starts from deep within; requiring the ability to see from the soul, and to be responsible for the energy brought.  This is what I know for sure.

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This calls to mind Desmond Tutu’s Forgiveness Challenge, as found on the www at http://forgivenesschallenge.com/.  The underlying premise is that we all have something that we need to be forgiven for and we all have something that we need to forgive. “Forgiveness says that you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”

The Archbishop has called upon each of us to actively engage in the process of forgiveness.  A part of the forgiveness process is self-forgiveness.  While God’s unconditional love grant’s forgiveness in the moment, we often fail to see, let alone accept, this Divine gift.  Thus, we must to learn how to proactively engage in the process of self-forgiveness.

In thinking about the Forgiveness Challenge, immediately brought to mind are two contemporary Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.  The first is the late and great Nelson Mandela, who built a bridge upon which South Africa walked from an entrenched place of Apartheid to a modern-day democracy.  The second is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, affectionately referred to as “The Lady”, who has worked tirelessly to bring Burma, as I call it, or Myanmar, from a “Militarized Junta” government to an ever-increasing Democratized nation.

Before reaching these historical pinnacles both Mandela and Suu Kyi were held captive by the very same individuals with whom they later collaborated.  They were not imprisoned for a day, a week, a month or even a year.  For a combined total of 41 years they were incarcerated under some of the harshest and most inhumane conditions.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison, under conditions that would have shaken most men of their convictions or, even worse, hastened their death.

Prior to being incarcerated, Suu Kyi was elected President of Burma.  Then just a fledgling democracy, a coup was staged and the Junta took control.  Suu Kyi then spent 15 years of the next 21 years in both prison and under house arrest.  During the brief gap, Suu Kyi could have returned to Britain, where her husband and two sons resided, but she chose to stay in Burma knowing that if she were ever to leave, that she would never be allowed to return to help the nation she loved.  She has attributed her fortitude to stand her ground to the influence of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent methods for political change, and her strong spiritual foundation steeped in meditation.  In 1991, while under house arrest, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

After their release, neither Mandela nor Suu Kyi spoke poorly of their captors or complained about the conditions and treatment during their captivity[2].  Rather, they forgave and, in doing so, they not only built, but also illuminated solid bridges for their adversaries, who ultimately crossed over to other shore, creating the alliances necessary to better serve our Humanity, with the outcomes achieved reflecting the wishes of a previously silent majority.  This could not have occurred without forgiveness.

Every major theology references forgiveness as a part of God’s plan.  Consider, for instance, Judaism’s Holiest Day, Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, during which not only Jews but groups extending to those which are Christian, work to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done not just against God but against other human beings, with the process including prayers designed to release or lose the observer from the man-mind emotion of guilt.  Yom Kippur epitomizes Religare, the Latin root of religion, which means to bind forth or bring together.

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As for Mandela, on February 11, 1990, not long after the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, he was released from prison.  After delivering a long-awaited but short public speech, he and his then wife Winnie retreated to the home of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He immediately took public office. In 1993, Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize.  In 1994, Mandela was elected as the President of South Africa, a position he held until 1999, after which, in 2007, he went on to become the Founding Father of The Elders, as found on the www at www.theelders.org, a group of former heads of state who are the world’s only well-recognized, non-partisan peacekeeper group[3].

While we lost Mandela on December 5, 2012, his legacy and spirit will forever live on, in part, through the words he once spoke:

No one is born hating another person…People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposition.

Part of love is the expression of and respect for human rights.  To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

Suu Kyi, released November 13, 2009, began building bridges with global partners, including Heads of State, many of which had declined to engage in similar discourse with Junta and whose representative countries had more often than not imposed trade embargos and harsh economic sanctions. In April 2012, Suu Kyi was elected to a seat in Burma’s newly-created Lower Parliament.  Her work has brought changes to Burma reflecting the will of its people, including long-denied human rights.  So, it came as no surprise to learn that there is hope that she may once again be able to run for its presidency.

“Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done.  Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin,” states the Archbishop. This is a separate and distinct concept from accountability for ‘breaching the public trust’, the enforcement of which must be turned over to a Higher Power as to the “how” and “when”.  In part, this is what is meant by consciousness drives the universe to bring about intended outcomes consistent with Universal Laws.

It is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.  Freedom From Fear, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi believes fear causes many leaders to lose sight of their purpose, stating “Government leaders are amazing.  So often it seems they are the last to know what the people want.”

My compassion extends to all who feel disenfranchised, unempowered or repressed.  But, it is true that we all have something to forgive and something to be forgiven for.

As this is a step toward global unification, I invite each and every one of you to partake in the Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Forgiveness Challenge[4].

_____

[1] Nadine Hack, in her March 2013 TEDx talk “Adversaries to Allies”, taught me the importance of revealing one’s own humanity and the need to identify and build bridges for all stakeholders.  Her talk, like her, is extraordinary.  http://youtu.be/u_zyi6ea874.

[2] On Friday, November 14, 2014, I was arrested, as predicted in my November 14, 2014 blog post entitled, “Asylum Was A Miracle: Sidestepping Arrests”, housed in the Macomb County Jail for three days, then after obtaining a Court Order recalling the warrant issued for my arrest for failing to appear at hearing, I was taken to another psychiatric hospital on a “Involuntary Petition” and cleared to leave less than an hour later.   This blog post, started in jail, omits details and names as will not facilitate healing.  My decision not to not include this information does not require me to stand down from speaking the truth that appointed and elected officials imbued with the public trust be held appropriately accountable.  I believe that the first three blog posts have attracted the requisite attention by those whose job enforcement falls upon.http://cynthialardner.blogspot.com/2014/11/asylum-was-miracle-sidestepping-arrests.html.

I will be publishing a second blog post on this recent experience documenting, much the same as an investigative reporter would do, the misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance observed as to the treatment of inmates.

[3] The Archbishop Desmond Tutu was also an Elder until his advancing years required that he step down from an active to an honorary role.  Suu Kyi was also an Elder until she took public office.  Elders cannot hold public office.

The Elders are currently chaired by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Graca Marcel, Mandela’s surviving spouse is an Elder as if former President Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and head of the United Nations Development Programme.

The Elders number 12, and have an Advisory Board from the international sectarian community, including the Skool Foundation, the Said Business School at OxfordUniversity, and Sir Richard Branson.

[4] http://cynthialardner.blogspot.com/2014/09/i-believe-in-magic-of-kindness.html

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