Thursday, December 29, 2011

"The Power of Forgiveness" from Journey Films

The Power of Forgiveness”, from Journey Films, directed by Martin Doblmeier, quickly draws a distinction between tolerance and forgiveness.  It requires compassion and mercy, not  justice.  It requires being “tough minded by tender hearted”. It was shown on some, but not all, PBS stations in 2008.

It then first examines the issues surrounding the conflicts in Northern Ireland, and a program of forgiveness education.

It then examines forgiveness in the Amish community, after the Nickel Mines  (PA) tragedy (Oct. 2, 2006). The community is strong enough as a society that the people don’t need to bear the burden individually.

The notion that “all people have worth because they are members of the human family” and not because of personal accomplishments or merit, is presented.  A person is more than what he/she has done.  A course in both seeking and offering forgiveness is presented in Ireland.

The film moves to the Holocaust, and Elie Weisel (“Night”, often read in high school) discusses the PBS Masterpiece play “God on Trial” (TV blog, June 20, 2010, by Frank Cottrell Boyce).

There is a discussion of the biology of justice, which the brain craves, and forgiveness. People were hooked up to electrocardiographic monitoring to study physiological reactions in detail.  Men were seen as more like to forgive in a critical moment than women.

The issue of forgiveness in connection with 9/11 is presented.  One woman looks for her son in a dump in the meadowlands.  She says “understanding” and “doing” are different things.

The project for the Garden of Forgiveness in NY (link) is discussed by a priest from St. Paul’s Church, and that project is based on a similar one in Beirut, which is shown. The National Council of Churches has a link on the Garden project.

Toward the end there are personal testimonials of forgiveness from crime victims that is hard to watch.
The link for the film is here.

Robert Enright  International Forgiveness Institute (link) appears.


What is hardest, I think, is that loss, because of the wrongs of another, is real for the victim. It makes the victim accept for dependence on others.  But, “forgiveness is something you do for yourself.”  I have the idea that, if one does not forgive, one must personally keep paying for part of the wrongdoer's deeds.  The law of karma makes us share some responsibility for the deeds of others anyway. 

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