Author Archives: Eileen Borris

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The Political Forgiveness Chronicles: You Too Can Make a Difference

Category : Uncategorized

 

True forgiveness is a complex and prolonged evolutionary process. When forgiveness is seen within a political process separate from but also interwoven with justice, apology, truth, and reconciliation it becomes more complex. Its enactment belongs entirely to the offended and is a courageous and powerful expression of unconditional acceptance and love that is an attempt to stop the transfer of hate from one generation to the next. A genuine individual and collective willingness to try to release the hurts of the past, accompanied by hope and determination to begin anew, can be argued to be a beginning point in this process. But what are the emotional roots of forgiveness, the source of feeling that makes it possible? And why is this so important to understand concerning the healing of nations? Any healing process including when it involves the collective begins with the individual. Individual healing builds the foundation for community healing to take place which ultimately supports structural changes, all of which encompasses a political forgiveness process.

The power of forgiveness of one person can have a great influence over many others and can even change an entire nation. For example, we have seen a profound change take place in South African when Nelson Mandela was able to bring his country together in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. And there have been others who although not so well known have demonstrated how their forgiveness has helped transform societies.

One such person is Irene Laure, a French woman who as a child during World War I suffered at the hands of the Germans and during World War II was part of the resistance movement against the Nazis saving as many lives as she could. She personally knew all too well the horrors of what the Nazis did and certainly had every right to be so angry as to want to see Germany destroyed. Then shortly after the war ended Irene attended a conference on reconciliation and it was there where she struggled and finally embraced the idea of forgiveness. The forgiveness process was so transformative that not only did this experience transform Irene, it had a profound effect on France as well. Irene spent the rest of her life helping to build the moral of the German women and spreading the words of forgiveness.

Political forgiveness is not just about the individual, it includes working on a community level and on making structural changes. One incredible program developed to heal the wounds of a community took place in Sierra Leone. Fambul Tok, “Family Talk” in Krio emerged in Sierra Leone as a face-to-face community owned program that brings together perpetrators and victims of the violence from Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war for the first time since the war ended. They meet through ceremonies rooted in the traditions of the villages affected by this violence. At evening bonfire ceremonies, victims give voice to their memories and perpetrators confess. They can ask for, and offer forgiveness, preparing the way for individuals and communities to forge a new future together.


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The Political Forgiveness Chronicles: Peace, Justice and Forgiveness

 

If I were to ask you what do we mean by peace, most people would speak of it as the absence of war. Peace is more than that. It is a state of mind, a way of being that can only happen when we are centered within ourselves. It happens when we are in touch with the essence of who we are, our spiritual essence. When people have a committed spiritual practice such as meditation and/or prayer, we see a calmness about them, a peacefulness of sorts. And when people come from a place of inner peace, that exudes outwardly in this world.

We can also ask ourselves what do we mean by justice. I am not talking about criminal justice we hear about in the courts but a higher justice. It is the kind of justice that recognizes all people are accorded basic human rights and transcends divisions of class, race, nationality and the many “isms” that can separate us. The virtue of justice requires not only that we judge others fairly but also that we judge ourselves fairly. Our sense of justice is formed by our beliefs. Just people are wise in the ways of fairness, equality and mercy. People who believe in justice question themselves, are aware of their own mistakes and so they are forgiving of others.

Working for justice is a spiritual practice. It increases our awareness of the interrelatedness of all people and the interdependence of life. Only a quest for justice can awaken our spiritual perception. A commitment to justice may foster a renewed perception of this spiritual reality – as we feel the suffering of others who we regard as strangers with our own selves. It is this kind of empathy which helps us be able to forgive.

This brings me to the work of forgiveness. Social transformation is brought about when individuals and groups are willing to be changed, even as they strive to change the world. Forgiveness, our inner healer is about change. To forgive on a transformational level we have to look within ourselves and shine a light on our darkness to be healed at a deep level. When we truly can forgive, we are given the gift of the experience of inexplicable love which changes us so as though there has been an interior renovation which has taken place and has no need for outer instruction. We have experienced the power of unconditional love and of the knowing or our spiritual connectiveness. The way we cultivate peace in our own hearts that is so powerful that we can weather any storm is through our connection with our spiritual self. The path that gets us there is through forgiveness. This is how forgiveness changes us and transforms us. The way this happens is as we shine a light on ourselves, we also recognize the light in others. It is through this lens that we view justice and know peace. This is where our greatest transformation lies.


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“I have understood that I can’t stay with this pain: I want to learn to Forgive.”

Peace Table

At the end of the Peace Table, participants received a pot of earth, seeds and a paper flower with motivational sayings. Picture: @ PeaceWomen Across the Globe.

War devastates. War kills. War tears apart the fabric of society often shredding it to pieces. Rebuilding a society is a complex and painstaking process not to be taken lightly. Often it is the most vulnerable people in our society, the women, children and elderly who suffer most. And often it is the women who come together in the search for peace to talk about forgiveness.

In the very complex political landscape that has emerged following over fifty years of conflict, Colombia has taken steps towards what can be considered the building blocks of a political forgiveness process. Work is being done on an individual and community level through a number of programs some of which include the Foundation for Reconciliation and on a national level as well through the “Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition” which is tasked with constructing a historical truth from the stories of millions of victims. This has reinvigorated hope among victims for healing their long-held traumas.

The Colombian “Commission for the Clarification of the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition” is partnering with an organization, PeaceWomen Across the Globe and its Peace Table program.  The Peace Table program creates spaces in which women can talk to one another and provides opportunities for voices to be heard and ensures that women become part of the peace process and that their experiences are not being forgotten. Their stories are powerful and as women shared their experiences of pain and suffering, they also speak of what they did to survive. In Columbia part of Peace Table experience is walking through a dense forest helping women re-experiencing nature and re-awakening memories. The group stopped at a tree where they saw a yellow note attached to it. It said, “I have understood that I can’t stay with this pain; I want to learn to forgive.” The women recognized the importance of this message and the kind of healing only forgiveness can bring.

At the end of the Peace table each woman received a pot of earth, seeds and a paper flower with motivational sayings which is what the picture above shows us. (@ PeaceWomen Across the Globe.)They also learned that they could talk about their pain and suffering, that forgiveness was about their inner healing, and that they could forgive which did not mean they would forget and at the same time have inner peace.


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The Political Forgiveness Chronicles

Berlin, Germany, 2018-03-14: German President Frank Walter Steinmeier speaks to the new cabinet members of the new build German Government at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin

To all my readers I am beginning to write the political forgiveness chronicles to help those interested in political forgiveness understand the meaning of what political forgiveness is and how to use it in the healing of nations.

Political forgiveness is different than interpersonal forgiveness in that it involves groups of people who have suffered at the hands of other groups of people. Clearly not everyone in a wronged group can be healed of their anger and have gone through a mourning process yet groups can heal. It is helpful that people on an individual level have had experiences with interpersonal forgiveness and have experienced the power of forgiveness for this begins to build a platform for group forgiveness to take place.

As the term political forgiveness implies, working with groups of people is very important in a political forgiveness process. I will be talking about how different groups of people have gone through their healing process and how their work can reach a national level where the structures that were in place which support violence can be changed to structures which support peace.

Everyone who plants a seed of forgiveness on any of these levels, individual, community or nationally begins to build a culture based in political forgiveness. Just last week the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at the commemoration ceremony of the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in Wielun, Poland, Sunday, September 1st, 2019. He expressed deep remorse for the suffering his nation inflicted on Poland and the rest of Europe during World War II, as world leaders gathered in the country where the war started at incalculable costs.

Steinmeier expressed his sorrow over the mass killings Adolf Hitler’s regime committed in Poland. The German president expressed gratitude to Poles for the gestures of forgiveness Poland has bestowed in return. “I bow in mourning to the suffering of the victims.” Steinmeier said. “I ask for forgiveness for Germany’s historical debt. I affirm our lasting responsibility.” The German president went on to speak about the dangers of nationalism and described European unity as a guarantee for peace in the future.

The acknowledgement of the wrongs committed by Nazis Germany had a great impact on those attending the meeting. Not only did Steinmeier’s words serve in a healing capacity, they served as a reminder that “turning a blind eye is not the recipe for preserving peace. It is a simple way to embolden aggressive personalities and gives consent to further attacks.”

The unity he speaks about is what political forgiveness gives to all those who support a political forgiveness process. This is where its power lies. When people unite and own the past,   we become stronger and together we heal creating a society and a world built on peace instead of war.

 

 


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The Arizona Educational Crisis and the Promise of Dialogue

Category : Uncategorized

With schools back in session after the #RedforEd walk-out, and the summer vacation just a few days away in most districts, the intensity of the Arizona education movement has relaxed into a steady hum of hope for the future and a grateful sigh for the respite of summer break.

On May 1, during the heat of the #RedforEd campaign, Thunderbird School of Global Management’s Dr. Eileen Borris facilitated a dialogue sponsored by Athena Valley of the Sun which was a collaborative effort of Arizona women’s groups concerned about the future of education in Arizona.

The goal of the dialogue was to discover the opportunities and apprehensions people have concerning what is happening to the education system in Arizona. Dr. Borris, a licensed psychologist and expert in peacebuilding and political forgiveness, was called on to help members of the community express their feelings on this very controversial issue and share their perceptions of the problems that affect the future of education in Arizona. The purpose was not to come to a consensus of agreement nor to determine which viewpoint was “right.” Rather, the purpose was to discover the richness of diverse perceptions that emerge from group discussion and create a shared meaning through inquiry and reflection.

“I wanted to make sure everyone in the room felt safe, had a voice and listened deeply to one another,” Dr. Borris says. “It was important that everyone learned something new, something they never thought about before. here is a big difference between a debate and a dialogue—and with this dialogue, the participants really heard one another and were affected by one another in a very positive way.”

The dialogue was as diverse as the participants who attended. People agreed that the issue about how to restore funding and improve education in Arizona was more complex than they thought. Some felt there was a lack of inclusiveness in solving the issue, while others felt that a lack of respect for the teaching profession was why more was not being done. Concerns were also expressed about retaining and developing passionate teachers when, under the current paradigm, teachers and schools are not being supported financially and otherwise. Participants called for strong leadership who demonstrate passion and vision that can drive change.

Dialogue participants also discussed several systemic issues which impact education, such as the economic future of the state, housing, poverty and the need to look at the situation holistically. The greatest concern raised was that individuals who need education the most are being left behind.

“I was very touched by the care and commitment around the room–and that it wasn’t just teachers speaking,” Dr. Borris says. “The dialogue involved concerned citizens from all walks of life.”

The group spent a great deal of time focusing on the issues of finance, as well as the fact that there are no businesses supporting education and there is a constant fight every year for funds. Participants agreed that there was a substantial need for more transparency involving budgets, goals and funding. What people were really hoping for is a more inclusive and positive political experience between politicians and educators, particularly so that teachers wouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to stay in the classroom.

The participants also wanted to see psychologically safe environments for learning where no child is lost to violence. They hoped that businesses would step up and adopt a school or take up other kinds of partnering with public schools to make them a better place for learning. The overall hope was that the classroom would produce lifelong learners so, as they grow into adults, children’s learning would continue to grow beyond the classroom.

“The question is, do we want to pay now or later,” Borris says. “Our society is changing and the needs of our children and youth have changed. Schools are not keeping up with the social, behavioral and technological changes taking place—and this is hurting the educational system. Our youth are incredibly important; they are our future and we need to invest in them. If we don’t invest in them now, our society will have a higher price to pay later.”


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Is the United Nations Getting Ready for the Transformational Power of Forgiveness?

Category : Uncategorized

During April 24-25, 2018 the United Nations convened a high-level meeting in New York on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. The purpose of the meeting was to assess efforts undertaken and opportunities to strengthen the United Nations work on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. The United Nations Headquarters welcomed heads of states to review the organization’s current work in conflict prevention and how to strengthen current operations and institutions related to peace. The High-Level Meeting was an occasion for participants from government, civil society, including women’s groups and representatives of the youth, the private sector, regional and sub-regional organizations and academia to discuss ways to support and promote sustaining peace. This was an historical milestone for advancing the United Nations’ work in the areas of conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding and to set the stage for a wider agenda of renewal and reform.

This meeting attracted the highest levels of attendance seen at the United Nations this year. It brought about a greater understanding of how one views peace. Perhaps Miroslav Lajc ̌a ́k President of the United Nations General Assembly said it best:

“Peace is more than a ceasefire. It is more than a peace deal. And, it is more than the absence of war. This means that once-off operations or activities are not enough to achieve it. Instead, we need to tackle conflict at its roots. We need to look to the horizon, to see the warning signs. We need to build a culture of peace; a culture of prevention.”

The meeting focused on a discussion in four areas.
Prevention
First, the UN meeting attendees looked at prevention, especially long-term prevention. This put the focus on sustainable development, economic growth, institution building and the respect for human rights.

Coherence
The second focus area was on coherence at both national and international levels. President Miroslav Lajc ̌a ́k spoke of a few examples such as in The Gambia where sustainable peace is central to the country’s national development plan. In Malawi United Nations development and political actors came together to support the national peace architecture. And in New York the Peacebuilding Commission is building bridges across the United Nations three pillars.

National Ownership
Sustaining peace does not stand a chance unless it is driven by national actors. Examples discussed included the Philippines where national cultures and policies were complemented rather than replaced.

Inclusion
The most prominent lesson was about inclusion. There are greater results with more inclusion. A shining example is how the women in Liberia have come together. They have developed a platform and a strong united voice, and because of their commitment and determination ended a civil war and now have come together to prevent the country from sliding back into war. Another example is the Balkans where young people even years after the fighting stopped continued to work for reconciliation. And in Sri Lanka civil society designed the national reconciliation process.
So how does political forgiveness fit into all of this?

Political forgiveness is a very inclusive and comprehensive approach to peacebuilding and sustaining peace. It is a process which involves the individual, the community and changing structures to support healing and reconciliation. As mentioned earlier, understanding the root causes is very important in peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Underneath the root causes are painful emotions which are driving the conflict and if the emotional currents are not given voice, emotions especially of anger, fear and hate will become a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Political forgiveness on an individual and community level focuses on healing these emotions so the root causes can be addressed.

In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the role of public, non-profit, for-profit and voluntary sectors in global development. Goal 16 focuses on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Focusing on Goal 16 provides a wonderful opportunity for developing political forgiveness within countries. There are many facets to this and where political forgiveness can fit in. The UN can support such programs as “Schools for Forgiveness and Reconciliation” to help with the healing of political and domestic violence on an individual level. The UN can also support indigenous practices which involves community healing such as the Fambul Tok program in Sierra Leone. Lastly, to support goal 16 the UN can help governments look at structures within their countries which can support a culture of peace. This is where the transformational power of political forgiveness lies in not only healing individuals and communities but in also helping to change structures where it has the capacity to heal nations. Giving what the goals are of the United Nations and what it wants to achieve, the process of political forgiveness makes these goals achievable and is a process which fosters prevention and transforms conflict supporting peacebuilding mechanisms and sustaining peace around the world.

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.

https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang


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What an Ordinary Woman Taught Me About Forgiveness – And Political Forgiveness

Category : Uncategorized

In an address I was giving the other day as I was receiving the Athena Leadership award, I spoke about Irene Laure, an ordinary woman who did extraordinary things. Although forgiveness is probably the most difficult thing asked of us, if it is something that our heart truly wants even if it seems that a much larger part of ourselves wants something else, we will be able to forgive. Irene Laure’s story is a beautiful illustration of that.

I remember the first time that I spoke about her. It was a cold dreary day in Montreal during the winter of 1989. I was preparing to walk up to the podium to give my first presentation on forgiveness and international affairs. I was to talk about the Franco-German reconciliation after World War II, which was one of the greatest achievements of modern statecraft. The presentation was highlighting the experiences of one French woman, Irene Laure, who had the courage to forgive and by this one act was able to change the face of Europe.

As I was approaching the lectern, I couldn’t help but wonder what Irene Laure must have been feeling some forty years earlier in Caux, Switzerland, when she too needed to address the assembly. How did she become such a remarkable woman?

Irene was a rebel against injustice from her earliest days. She was also taught to be a German hater having grown up in France during World War I and later suffered at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. One night during the early days of the occupation Irene was walking down the street when she heard marching boots shattering the stillness of the night. Suddenly Irene was surrounded by a German patrol, with their torchlight blinding her and their harsh orders deafening her ears. She was pointing to her nursing bag hoping it would save her. Instead she was propelled forward by the muzzle of a machine gun in the small f her back, wondering if this meant her death.

As I looked into the eyes of my audience, years later, I couldn’t help but ask myself how many of them had ever experienced living in a war zone. I knew there were diplomats and foreign service officers in the audience, but how many of them understood first-hand why and how we can hate so much. We speak of conflict so antiseptically. So often we think that once we have a treaty or policy in place, peace will follow. Governments usually don’t go further than that and certainly not to the core of the pain and suffering that is at the root of all wars.

Irene was a poignant example of a human being wounded by the atrocities of violence and war. A Lutheran minister posed a question to her asking her how she envisioned a united Europe without Germany. After a great deal of soul searching Irene realized that hatred and revenge was not going to give her what she really wanted. She also realized that hatred, whatever the reasons for it, is always a factor that creates new wars.

Irene was eventually able to see things different. There was a total transformation in her thinking. By being able to see the world through the eyes of forgiveness, Irene’s life took on new meaning She made the commitment to take the message of forgiveness and reconciliation to Germany and to the world.

Irene’s story exemplifies the possibility and potential that a change in perception and transformation in thinking can bring. This is the miracle that only forgiveness and its processes can bring to life. Irene was willing to look into her heart, acknowledge her weakness, and say she was sorry for her hateful thoughts toward the Germans. The results of her actions were profound, and Irene was not only able to build a new relationship with the Germans, she committed the rest of her life in helping to reconcile France with Germany and spread the word of forgiveness.
Irene touched my heart in so many ways, especially in understanding the power of forgiveness and the way forgiveness can not only heal individuals – it can also have a profound effect in the healing of nations.

I feel so blessed to have known the work of Irene Laure. She has truly inspired me to go to areas of conflict around the world, places where war once was, and to work with groups, who at one time may have been enemies, and bring them together, through the healing work that only forgiveness can bring.


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When Our Pain Returns – Finding Forgiveness

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution

It would be so nice if when we told our painful stories of the past, all our suffering would magically disappear. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. Many of us get stuck in the quagmire of our emotions not letting the ghosts of the past be in the past. How can we work through these emotions? We heal our emotions by feeling them completely. The only way we can get to the other side is by walking through that door. Yes, it hurts yet the paradox is that when we give ourselves permission to feel our emotions completely, we begin to dissipate its energy. One of the reasons why we struggle so much with forgiveness is that we want to avoid feeling pain, but in order to finally let our emotional burdens go, we have to know what’s there.

Forgiveness is a process that usually takes time. If done fully, forgiveness changes us in a very fundamental way. It changes our thinking and creates within us a new way of being in this world. When we become a person who can forgive, then we find the ultimate freedom forgiveness brings. This freedom expands our consciousness giving us the gift of an all-encompassing love. Challenging ourselves to grow beyond our “small” selves is difficult and yet it reaps great rewards.

So what are the ways you can begin to let go of your past? Soul searching is a good starting point. Take out your journal and ask yourself the following questions.

• Do you really want to forgive this person? It’s ok if you don’t – and if that is the case just be gentle with yourself. It is healthier to be able to acknowledge that then to say “I forgive” when you are still seething inside. Working with our emotions takes time. There are also times when we feel that we “should” forgive someone for a variety of reasons. This never works. Forgive is a choice, a voluntary act and if it is forced resentment builds just beneath the surface.

• Do you want to step out of being a victim? If not why is it that you are choosing to hold on to your anger and/or guilt? This question is a hard one. All of us are invested in being stuck in the victim role. Do you want to get back at someone by being the innocent victim, showing the world how much you are suffering at the hands of another? Remember, we disempower ourselves when we are stuck in the victim role, blaming others and not taking responsibility for our own lives. Conversely we empower ourselves when we take responsibility for our emotional well being. Often it is our feelings of guilt that keeps us stuck. We may not feel that we deserve feeling better or we feel guilty that someone else may have suffered and not us. When this happens ask yourself, what is under these feelings – why do I want to beat myself up? Why am I not willing to love and nurture myself? Remember – holding on to guilt is a choice too.

• Do you really want to heal? This is another hard question and be gentle with yourself with whatever comes up. The important issue here is to be aware that you are making choices, awareness being the first step in any healing process.

As I have mentioned before – forgiveness takes work. Being honest, loving and gentle with yourself will take you on the road to recovery. Get help if you need too for you do not need to do this work on your own. And remember, you are not alone.

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.
https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang


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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School finds a Way Through Forgiveness

Thousands of mourners attend a candlelight vigil for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 15, 2018.

A grieving community tries to come to grips with the loss of 17 precious lives. Mourners come together to honor the victims as sadness clutches the face of so many people trying to make sense of what has happened. As tears wash the pain and sorrow felt in so many hearts, behind those brave faces is a sense of fear and confusion after such a devastating event. Despite this horrific tragedy so many students demonstrated the best of humanity.

While thousands of mourners slowly gathered on that mild February day a group of eight high school students formed a tight circle. As people met each other with hugs and tears before Thursday’s vigil for the dead, eight students appealed to a higher being to save the souls they had just lost. They reflected on the sanctity of life. They held each other up just 24 hours after experiencing senseless evil. Shay Makonde, a junior at the high school led the group in prayer. His message was that we shall carry on for the lives that were lost. For Shay, the day after the shooting was not only about community, it had also presented the challenge of forgiveness.

Shay had to deal with his own trauma. The day before he led those prayers, Shay was in one of the hallways where Nikolaus Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect, opened fire on students. Shay pulled two of his classmates into a hallway during the shooting. What was most striking was that Shay heard Cruz laughing before he saw a third friend go down.

Notwithstanding what had happened Shay said that he cannot hate the shooter. Instead, Shay says he wants to focus on the people he still has in his life, and on honoring his lost friend’s life. Hatred, he said, only breeds more hatred and pain.

Even with the horrific nature of the attack other students also found a way forward through forgiveness. One student, Daniela Menescal who like others thought that a drill was taking place until the moment bullet fragments slammed into her back and leg. She hid behind a metal cabinet as gunfire sprayed the room. The girl in front of her was hit in the face, a bullet was lodged in her eye. Menescal survived and made it home bandaged with metal from the bullets still inside her. Despite all that happened to her that day she found it in her heart to forgive. When asked what message she wanted to get out it was forgiveness. “In the back of his mind, God is with him and I know that we all deserve a second chance, and that even for all that he caused, we forgive him. I forgive him,” Menescal said.

The killing of 17 people at the high school in Parkland, Fla., has yet to reveal much forgiveness toward the shooter. It is too early. People need time to recovery physically and emotionally. The anger over the murders, especially among Parkland students, is directed mainly at elected officials and the cause of controlling access to guns, especially assault rifles. That debate should not be deflected or weakened. Yet at the same time, the United States can tackle the issue of whether better qualities of care in society – including the role of forgiveness – might help prevent a similar shooting.

After the 2015 shooting that killed nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church, many in the predominantly African-American congregation forgave the young white male gunman. In doing so, they hoped not only to heal the hatred they felt but the hatred in him that motivated the crime. In addition, they hoped their forgiveness might enable them to better reach others prone to violence and perhaps prevent a similar massacre.

We may want to think about this and the role forgiveness can play in our society. With so much hatred and violence taking place changing mindsets can go a long way in healing the maladies we face. Forgiveness can break the cycles of violence and have a healing effect which our society so desperately needs.

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.
https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang


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Want Inner Peace? – Here’s How: Step 7 – Gaining Inner Peace

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution

Once we have reached Step Seven in the forgiveness process, we have come to a very special place. There are certain things we have come to realize about our minds and the way we think. We may have realized that in a sense we have operated from two minds – our ego self and our spiritual self or the place of our divinity. When we function from the lower self, we believe that responsibility for whatever has taken place is outside of ourselves, not within. When we work through our higher or spiritual nature, our divinity helps us see through our illusions and misperceptions. Our spiritual essence is that part of our self that is in touch with the creative force and reminds us that this force is always within us. It is the part that tells us that there is another way we can go about living and interacting in this world. In Step Seven, the spiritual self is awakened, setting the stage for a transformation to take place that only forgiveness can bring.

This step not only asks us to understand what has taken place in another person’s life but also to recognize that what we see in them is the outer covering and not their true inner being. When we are able to see their inner light, no matter what the outer actions are, we are seeing with spiritual sight. All of us wear different outer clothes but are the same at the depth of our being, and so we look for their light and do not focus on the outer covering. When you can open your heart to others, no matter what the circumstances are, and not lose sight of their spiritual essence, a transformation within you takes place. Your life changes to a more meaningful existence and you experience the wonderful fruits of your labor. For some people these changes happen gradually, and they may not notice how profoundly they have changed. For others, their transformation can be so deep that not only is it a profound moment in their lives, what they chose to do becomes an incredible service to mankind.

When we make the commitment to forgive others, we are sometimes given a gift. If we find that we are struggling to forgive but know in our heart the commitment is there, sometimes a mysterious energy intervenes. We can experience this force as a surge of energy or the feeling of inexplicable love. Some people call it grace, and others call it a third factor that transcends anything they have ever experienced. At this point in our healing process, we open ourselves to the entirety of what is. In that opening we allow ourselves to be at one with a situation, or with life as a whole, and a profound healing takes place. There is nothing we can do to create this experience except to say to ourselves, “I take responsibility for my anger, guilt and pain and give it over to that which is greater than me.” If our request is heartfelt, we will get the help we need. This can be one of the most profound moments of our life when our prayers are answered.

With forgiveness the past, although not forgotten nor rationalized away, is not longer a haunting or burdensome issue. Instead, we experience a restoration of a sense of wholeness and of inner direction and an opening up of our heart to others. We can acknowledge that others act in a way human beings do, out of their fears, needs and perceptions, and that we are no different. This understanding makes it possible for us to live in a new and fuller way.

Last, the spiritual dimension of forgiveness cannot be over-looked. It is the transforming nature of forgiveness, coupled with what some experience; that involves more than our own will that makes forgiveness so profound. Once forgiveness is experience at this deeper level, we can realize the larger meaning of the injury. The sense of relief from the hurt itself seems to be only one aspect, perhaps even small, compared to the freedom we experience from forgiveness. The future opens with amazing possibilities, and we feel a fuller kinship with others and at the same time humbled by what seems to be a gift that only forgiveness can bring.

For your journal exercise, rewrite your forgiveness story, this time with the understanding you have gained going through the forgiveness process. Include in your story the understanding you have gained about yourself and the perpetrator. How has your thinking changed in terms of how you choose to see the world? Did you struggle with letting go of your anger and guilt and, if so, what happened or what did you need to have happen to finally let go? Did you experience a moment of grace and if so, how has that changed you? Finish your story with what you would like to do or say that you may not have been able to do yet.

Reflection: As you think about what you learned through this process what has seeing the world through spiritual sight taught you? What have you learned and gained from the forgiveness process?

And remember, forgiveness is the science of the heart. It is the anchoring of a new wisdom rooted in compassion. For those who have the courage to follow its path, forgiveness reminds us how to live wit love in a world filled with guilt and fear.

We are the ones who determine how much anger and hatred we will experience in our lives, as well as how much compassion and forgiveness we will extend to others. We have been given opportunities to hate and the wisdom to transcend our hate. Think of the personal power we much have to move beyond old choices and to respond to life from a place of spiritual wisdom. Our pain and suffering provide us with the chance to learn how to forgive and to know our truest, most beautiful nature. Forgiveness is the gift given to us to transcend our darkness and like alchemy, turns it to gold.

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris
As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.
https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang