Author Archives: Eileen Borris

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Tibetan school hosts talk on “Freedom Through Forgiveness” by Dr. Eileen Borris

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His Holiness, the Dalai Lama with Mr. Richard Moore

Dharamsala: It was a momentous day for the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala as it hosted a talk entitled, “Freedom Through Forgiveness,” by the man who His Holiness, the Dalai Lama considers “not only his friend but also his hero.” It was also a very memorable occasion for all, that a man left totally blind by another person shared a common dais in an exemplary spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.

His Holiness created this special occasion, a community celebration as it were, for the Tibetan children, though Mr. Moore and Mr. Inness had only sought a private audience. His Holiness the Dalai Lama ushered Mr. Richard Moore, a blind Irish gentleman and Mr. Charles Inness, a former British soldier, into the TCV school auditorium in Mcleodganj near Dharmshala with thunderous applause by over 2,500 school children and other participants.

story4-2Mr. Charles Inness, Mr. Richard Moore and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama Richard, at the age of 10, was hit on the face by a rubber bullet fired by Charles, a British soldier, when he was walking home from Rosemount Primary School in Derry in Northern Ireland with his friends on May 4, 1972. “Every thing went blank,” he said later when he woke up on the school canteen table.

In an extraordinary turn of events, on January 14, 2006, Richard flew to Edinburgh to meet Charles, who had gone into deep shock and sadness after learning about what happened. Charles explained that he had shot the bullet to get stone throwers away.

In his address, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “The acts of terrorism are caused by feelings of anger, hatred and animosity. The sense of forgiveness and humanity shown by Richard Moore is an example for the world to learn to overcome such negative emotions. The human beings must resolve the source of conflicts such as anger and hatred in order to promote non-violence and peace.”

story4-3His Holiness honoured Richard with a citation for showing a true practice of forgiveness and compassion as a wonderful model to follow for the six billion people in this world. His Holiness also lauded Richard for his works to help vulnerable children around the world through his charity, Children of Crossfire.

2,500 school children and other participants at the talk In his emotional speech, Charles said: “I was absolutely appalled, shocked and devastated by what had happened to Mr. Richard Moore. I was deeply grieved for the rest of my life after the tragic incident.”

“Despite facing the unimaginable tragic and horrific experience, Richard has made a very successful life and I am very honoured and privileged to have him as a great friend for the rest of my life,” Charles said.

Mr. Moore first met His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the latter’s visit to Derry in 2000. They met again when His Holiness returned a few years later, and again in 2007 on the 10th founding anniversary of the Children of Crossfire charity during which His Holiness called Mr. Richard Moore his “hero.”


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Is there a Typical Homegrown Terrorist?

Is there a Typical Homegrown Terrorist?

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Terrorism is like a cancer of the soul of humanity. It is metastasizing everywhere. This year we have seen what terrorism has done in Syria creating the world’s greatest refugee crisis and now we have seen terrorism in San Bernardino and most recently in Orlando, Florida. What prompts an American citizen to succumb to ISIS ideology and to act out by killing innocent people. Perhaps it is not what we think.

Homegrown terrorism or domestic terrorism is commonly associated with violent acts committed by citizens or permanent residents of a state against their own people or property within that state without foreign influence in an effort to instill fear on a population or government as a tactic designed to advance political, religious, or ideological objectives. The definition of homegrown terrorism includes what is normally considered domestic terrorism. Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, and U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the term has often been applied to violence that is perpetrated against people or property by their own citizens or permanent residents of a state under jurisdiction of that state in order to promote political, religious, or ideological objectives. Domestic terrorists have identical, or nearly so, means of militarily and ideologically carrying on their fight without necessarily having a centralized command structure regardless of whether the source of inspiration is domestic, foreign, or transnational.

The Congressional Research Service report, American Jihadist Terrorism: Combatting a Complex Threat, describes homegrown terrorism as a “terrorist activity or plots perpetuated within the United States or abroad by American citizens, permanent legal residents, or visitors radicalized largely within the United States.”

Under the 2001 USA Patriot Act, domestic terrorism is defined as “activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state; (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.”

We know that the Internet and social media have been used to radicalize and recruit Americans but is there a typical pattern found as to why an American-born person would become a jihadi? Peter Bergen, the national security analyst for CNN and author of “United States of Jihad” has spent two and a half years researching this. What he has found is that the more you look at each individual case, the more individual the case becomes. His research has shown that it is not about someone necessarily following a bin Ladenist ideology but more about one’s personal life and what may be lacking in it. Sometimes personal disappointments or inner conflicts drive someone’s behavior. Perhaps it is a need for recognition to fill a very empty life, or a need to belong somewhere or to something like a cause. And although horrific crimes are committed, mental illness is found to be lower than what is found in the general public. It takes quite a bit of planning to pull off a terrorist attack.

If anything, what you are really looking at is someone coming from the middle-class. They are not necessarily young hotheaded people that we might imagine them to be. On the contrary many are married, with kids, and in their late 20s. We have seen this with one of the attackers in the San Bernardino shooting who was 28, married, with a child. The male perpetrator had a job earning $70,000 a year. They were very much solidly part of the American middle class. So why did they turn to violence and kill 14 people just arbitrarily? It truly is a mystery which may never be explained. Perhaps we need to understand the nature of evil itself and even that would be difficult to understand no less predict when it would rear its ugly head.


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Dr. Eileen Borris Offers Journalists Workshops For Conflict Sensitive Journalism

Conflict Sensitive Journalism and Multi-Track Diplomacy Training Program

Ali Rezaian sits next to a photo showing his brother, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and their mother, during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing for families with relatives jailed in Iran. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ali Rezaian sits next to a photo showing his brother, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and their mother, during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing for families with relatives jailed in Iran. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Good journalism is difficult work during the best of times. However, when working in areas threatened by violent conflict journalists face greater difficulties including personal risk. This is evident around the world, most recently in Turkey where there are more journalists in prison than any other place in this world.

With conflict and violence being reported around the world, how it is reported will influence the situation at hand. What is reported can either become part of the problem or part of the solution. This is a training program designed to strengthen the skills of professional journalists working in conflict sensitive areas to enable them to analyze conflicts objectively without inflaming the conflict and to be aware of how their reporting influences the conflict. The training includes exploration of conflict resolution possibilities as an integral part of objective reporting. It covers techniques for improved reporting on conflict, pitfalls to avoid, and specific challenges facing journalists reporting on violent conflict such as reflecting gender sensitivity, dealing with hate speech and recognizing trauma.

A record number of journalists are behind bars in China, and the number of journalists jailed in Turkey and Egypt also rose dramatically in 2015, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has found. Overall, the number of journalists imprisoned around the world declined modestly from record levels recorded in the past three years. The CPJ identified 199 journalists in prison because of their work in 2015, compared with 221 the previous year. Iran, Vietnam, and Ethiopia were among those countries holding fewer journalists prisoner, but in all three countries a climate of fear for the media persists, with many of those released continuing to face legal charges or harsh restrictions, including forced exile­.

Perhaps nowhere has the climate for the press deteriorated more rapidly than in Egypt, now the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi continues to use the pretext of national security to clamp down on dissent. Cairo is holding 23 journalists in jail, compared with 12 a year ago. As recently as 2012, no journalists were in jail for their work in Egypt. Those behind bars include Ismail Alexandrani, a freelancer who focuses on the troubled Sinai Peninsula and who was recently arrested on arrival in Egypt from Germany. (Read detailed accounts of each prisoner here.)

Conditions for the media have also taken a turn for the worse in Turkey, which doubled the number of journalists in jail over the year to 14. The country released dozens of journalists in 2014 after being the world’s worst jailer for two consecutive years, but in 2015—amid two general elections, further entanglement in the Syrian civil war, and the end of a fragile ceasefire with fighters of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—fresh arrests make it the fifth worst jailer globally. Most recently, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, senior staff members of independent daily Cumhuriyet, were arrested on charges of espionage and aiding an alleged terrorist group after publishing reports that alleged Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had transferred weapons to Syria under cover of humanitarian aid.

This is a three-day training program for journalists new to the field, mid-level journalists, and editors and producers working or reporting about conflict sensitive areas. Because this training program alternates between theory and practice there is a lot of interaction involving small group work. Therefore, twelve to eighteen participants will be accepted for the training program. A certificate will be given at the completion of the training.

The Presenter – Dr. Eileen Borris

Dr. Eileen Borris is a political psychologist and international expert on conflict resolution.
As a political psychologist, Dr. Borris was invited by the President of the General Assembly to offer her insights to the General Assembly. Her experiences helping to rebuild war torn countries such as Liberia, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Israel, and the Occupied Territories, qualified her speaking on the issues inherent in resolving conflict. She has worked in Indonesia for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), developing conflict resolution and reconciliation programs, and throughout Liberia with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), implementing trauma healing programs.

Dr. Borris began her career as the Director of Training for the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in Washington, DC. She is adjunct faculty at Thunderbird: School of Global Management, a unit of Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise Office where she has taught global negotiation, cross cultural communication, conflict management and social change and international corporate diplomacy. She is involved with the Thunderbird for Good program where she trained a number of Afghan broadcasters working in conflict sensitive areas in conflict sensitive journalism and the role of media in multi-track diplomacy. Currently through the Thunderbird for Good Program Dr. Borris is working on a USAID funded project in Afghanistan jointly with the U.S. and Afghan governments that will work to empower 75,000 women focusing on promoting more effective advocacy for women’s equality and empowerment and implementation of public gender policies.


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Dr. Eileen Borris Is Keynote On Global Refugee Crisis Panel

Scottsdale Based Author Tapped to Lead Discussion on Global Refugee Crisis

Dr. Eileen Borris, author of the best-selling book, “Finding Forgiveness”(McGraw-Hill) with its Foreword by the Dalai Lama, began her journey defining political forgiveness more than 30 years ago.

“It is impossible for everyone to come to Europe. Europe cannot host all refugees,” the Dalai Lama said recently. “The real solution to the current refugee crisis lies in the Middle East.”

The Tibetan Buddhist leader has called for the ending violence in the refugees’ home countries. Dr. Eileen Borris, Scottsdale-based author of the best-selling book “Finding Forgiveness” and her upcoming book “Forgiveness and the Healing of Nations” is sharing strategies for conflict resolution that she hopes will become required reading and a reference book for diplomacy in every embassy in the world.

There are nearly four million Syrian refugees in five host countries. More than 15 million people are in need of assistance inside and outside of Syria. On September 30, 2015 the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations (PCFR) presents a panel discussion on Cost of Violence and War versus Benefits of Peace by three international experts on this timely topic in regards to the refugee crisis. Besides Dr. Eileen Borris, the panelists include Donna Magnuson and Karen Linehan Mroz and will be moderated by PCFR Board Member, Susan Gitenstein Assadi.

“Government may not talk in terms of understanding, compassion or forgiveness, but that does not mean these virtues are not to be strived for, “ said Dr. Borris. “Political forgiveness is a form of action that helps a nation to open up new paths to once and for all end the conflict.”

As a clinical and political psychologist, Dr. Borris works with emerging democracies helping those nations of people reconcile centuries-old conflicts through forgiveness. Her expertise has been called upon numerous times around the globe. As an expert consultant, she has worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Dr. Borris is one of the few individuals that has been invited to give an address in front of the United Nations General Assembly on how to resolve international conflicts and gives presentations to the different missions and agencies regarding on the power of forgiveness and the healing of nations.

Currently, Dr. Borris is a faculty member at Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU and is president of Forgiveness International, a nonprofit organization which promotes political forgiveness. Dr. Borris has a private therapy practice which includes life coaching, seminars and workshops. She is also is available for speaking engagements on the psychological and spiritual power of forgiveness.


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The Dalai Lama’s Thoughts On Forgiveness

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DSC01191As I began developing my book “Finding Forgiveness” into an audio book I was reminded of the words that His Holiness the Dalai Lama shared in writing the foreword for “Finding Forgiveness.” Because of the profoundness of what he said I would like to share some of his beautiful words.

“In the course of our lives we often make misguided decisions that harm ourselves or others. We do this out of ignorance. We think that a certain mode of behavior will bring us happiness when in fact it brings us suffering. Feelings of self-righteous anger and the urge for revenge may sometimes lead us to harm others in the mistaken conviction that it will benefit us and bring us some form of happiness. Actually, it creates suffering not only for the victims of our deeds but also for us. However justified we may feel, doing others harm even in the name of revenge, severely disturbs our own peace of mind and creates conditions for our own suffering.”

Think about these wise words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. How many times have we gotten angry towards someone in our self-righteous anger wanted to lash out in some way. Our anger only affects ourselves, no one else. It has a negative impact on our health and over time creates suffering just for ourselves. This truly is like taking poison and hoping someone else will die.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in nine (9) foreign countries.  She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill). 

Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com  Twitter @ERBorris


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Daniel Goleman, Peter Senge & Forgiveness

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As I was working on my upcoming book “The Power Of Forgiveness and the Healing of Nations,” I was thinking about what Senge and Goleman has written about “The Triple Focus” skill set and how it applies to the healing of nations. They describe a new approach to education which focuses on a triple focus skill set, the “inner”, “other” and “outer.” I was very intrigued about this and began thinking how this can be applied to forgiveness especially in the healing of nations. This focuses on the inner healing of an individual,  the importance of relating to the “other,” in community and understanding the cause and effects of our behavior within the systems we operate in.

Within any forgiveness healing process we always have to focus within ourselves, our interior world to gain a greater understanding of who we are and why we feel the way we do. We have to know ourselves and heal those parts within ourselves which are causing pain. Once we have worked through those disturbing inner emotions we can move forward to the second skill, understanding the “other,” tuning into other people, or empathizing, being able to understand the psychological landscape of the “other” and not just coming from our own perspective.

This leads to the third skill or “outer” focus as described by Senge and Goleman. It involves a systems way of thinking which is the core of a political forgiveness process in the healing of nations. This skill set requires us to understand the way systems interact and effect one another. Sometimes these systems support structural violence which is so prevalent in the world today, and it can also support structures of peace which is the essence of a political forgiveness process.

It is important to understand systems and to use the knowledge gained to improve structures that will support peacebuilding. As Goleman and Senge have demonstrated there is an important synergy that happens between social and emotional learning which can be applied to the work of political forgiveness creating profound changes within a system. Once we realize the system, the cause and effects of our behavior we can use the insights gained to change our behavior supporting behaviors of forgiveness on a political level and creating a more peaceful world.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in nine (9) foreign countries.  She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill). 

Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com  Twitter @ERBorris


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Neuroscience – Gun Control – Forgiveness

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While doing research on neuroscience and forgiveness I came across a very interesting article written by Tim Philips, executive director of Beyond Conflict, on neuroscience and the gun control debate. As we go into this election year gun control is a very hot topic. What struck me about the article was a recognition of the role of sacred values. Sacred values are a set of values that individuals and groups hold dear to their sense of right and wrong. In a sense they become our North star. In many intractable conflicts around the world, groups fighting one another often are not recognizing or respecting the sacred values held by the “other” group and the fighting goes on.

So what does this have to do with gun control. It is called the 2nd Amendment right, a sacred value held by many Americans. We all have feelings around the right to bear arms. This is a value our country was founded on. We will fight for our sacred values and therefore fight for the right to bear arms. Interestingly research shows that sacred values actually have a biological basis in the brain. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University has used neuroimagery technology to identify brain regions associated with sacred values and has found that sacred values are processed in a part of our brain which may cause us to react physically when a challenge is made to our sacred belief.

In walks the issue of gun control. The debate clearly gets juices flowing and according to research done by neuroscientists emotions and narratives must be part of the equation if we want the debate to move forward. So how can we address gun violence through the lens of sacred values? The dialogue needs to open up in a way where people feel safe and feel heard in talking about what is sacred to them. Everyone needs to truly listen to what is being said and to not feel that their identities are being threatened. Only when this happens can we bring the debate back to facts and figures. If we can recognize the powerful hold sacred values have on us and how this gets played out in the gun debate perhaps we can find a new approach to these polarizing conversations. Perhaps we can find a sacred value that supersedes our right to bear arms that we can all get around. If we can do this perhaps we have come a little closer to resolving our differences and in the process forgive ourselves for how hard we have been with one another and how difficult this journey has been.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in nine (9) foreign countries.  She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill). 

Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com  Twitter @ERBorris


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Embracing Paris With Love

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When confronted with violence and brutality many of us get overwhelmed with feelings of anger, hatred, fear, grief – feeling as though a cancer is spreading throughout humanity. It may feel as though humanity has plunged into the sea of darkness leaving us feel powerless and hopeless. There are many actions which will take place and need to take place. One action that we can all participate in is the remembrance of the power of forgiveness.

When I think of the power of forgiveness I am reminded of the phrase “father forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is a reminder of the infinite presence of love. This is not a love only for the few but a powerful healing –  in fact the only true power. It is the power which can give us hope. It is what can change consciousness for the betterment of human kind. Forgiveness is what endures. Forgiveness is what gets us to the place of love. Love heals all. This is what brings the healing of hatred, the healing of grief, and the healing of fear. Nothing can stop the power of forgiveness which is the power of love. Let us focus on this power which can free is from human strife. Let forgiveness touch our hearts so that we can be comforted and feel hope as we let its power move humanity.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in nine (9) foreign countries.  She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill). 

Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com  Twitter @ERBorris

 


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Terror Brings out Different Leadership Styles: Body Language says it all, you can see it in their faces – Obama, King of Jordan, Hollande, and Putin

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How do the world leaders deal with terrorism? Clearly different strokes with different folks. President Obama, the King of Jordan, President Hollande and President Putin along with other leaders have been reacting to the attacks their countries face as a result of the actions of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and Hamas.

Just within the past few weeks there have been attacks beginning with a downed jet in the Sinai, then in Lebanon, Paris, and now in Mali. We have to stop the bloodbath yet sometimes you need to take people out who are violent to stop the violence. Everyone agrees on that.

How can that be achieved is what leaders are grappling with. So how are our leaders standing up to this challenge.

At a recent news conference in Kosovo, King Abdullah of Jordan, said something that President Obama would never say by announcing that the world is now in a Third World War against humanity and this is what brings us all together.

The deadly attacks in Paris are part of it. King Abdullah calls out ISIS directly for the deaths they have caused and promised swift action against Islamic radicals.

“This is a war within Islam and unfortunately over 100,000 Muslim shave been murdered by Daesh (ISIS) alone over the past two years, and that doesn’t also count for the atrocities like minded-groups have also done in Africa and Asia. So therefore we must act fast and holistically to tackle the response to interconnected threats.”

French President Francois Hollande after the attack in Paris addressed a joint session of the French Parliament at Versailles. It is the third time since 1948 that a French president has done this. Hollande declared that France is at war and that the acts committed in Paris are acts of war. These acts caused 129 deaths and many injured.

“They constitute an attack on our country, against our values, against our young people and against our way of life. France is a country of freedom and the mother land of human rights. I felt that I should address the Parliament to show national unity in the face of such abomination.”

President Vladimir Putin of Russia probably has made the toughest statements. He is sending 150,000 soldiers to Syria to wipe out the evil Islamic State. He is mounting an enormous military mission to take control of the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa, the self-declared capital of ISIS in Syria. Putin has hinted that he is ready to join forces with the west to tackle the Islamic State.

And then there is President Obama. Obama held a press conference during the G20 Summit in Turkey where he was asked repeatedly by reporters about the ISIS attack in Paris and was pressed on his failing strategy to destroy the terrorist group.

Obama became defensive with overtones of anger towards Republicans and reporters. NBC’s Chuck Todd observed that Obama didn’t channel what Todd thought a lot of Americans are feeling right now, a little bit of anger, a little bit of resolve and a little bit of resiliency.”

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America Obama commented

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength” Obama said of ISIS. “What is true, from the start of our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria. They’ll come in and they’ll leave.”

These comments are clearly out of touch with what the world is witnessing.

What does this say about leadership around the world? Clearly King Abdullah doesn’t care about political correctness and is ready to destroy the Islamic state. He is a Muslim speaking out and has setup a huge refugee camp taking humanitarian actions. King Abdullah stepped out in front when ISIS shot down Jordanian aircraft putting his own life on the line because of what he believed, leading by example, not afraid to deal with ISIS, not a war monger nor forgetting the victims. People trust him to do the right thing.

Hollande has stepped up now that terrorism is in his own back yard. He is taking measureable steps in Syria, pledging support to fight ISIS and now sending in ground troops to assist Mali. He has closed his borders, found the mastermind and took the terrorists out in less than 72 hours.

Putin vows to take out ISIS and is filling the vacuum created due to lack of efforts by the US. He is motivated by power and self interest. He is decisive, committed but where is the compassion? What is Putin going to do about refugees? Is he now ready to possibly work with the west?

And what about Obama? What leadership qualities do we see from our president. From his comments about his strategy he has become defensive and testy when people comment that his strategy is not working. There is no strategy and a disconnection with what the world is experiencing. It is embarrassing to think that the leader of the free world has nothing more to offer.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in fifteen foreign countries. She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill).
Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com Twitter @ERBorris


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Love is the Answer: A design for Living in Chaos – A Radical Path for Peace.

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I always welcome opportunities to speak about forgiveness, something which is very near and dear to my heart. Tonight will be no exception. Because of my passion for the subject I have been writing and teaching about forgiveness for most of my adult life. This is what got me to write my first book Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness which focuses on personal forgiveness and now a second book The Power of Forgiveness and the Healing of Nations which focuses on political forgiveness.

There is a wonderful line from the movie The Bucket List which is; “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it is worth watching.” I would like to share a story with you which adds to the meaning of this reminder.  I was reading a wonderful book called “Into the Light” by Dr. John Lerma. Dr. Lerma, works in the hospice unit of Houston Medical Center and writes about ordinary people who selflessly shared their last days telling stories of their pre-death experiences. The messages which they wanted to share from their pre-death experiences were all the same. It didn’t matter if the person was a 9-year old boy, a murderer, a drug user, an atheist, or a Nazi, the stories were not only mystifying, but very healing and uplifting.

They all talked in depth about the importance for self-love and self-forgiveness and to have loving relationships while here on earth. They also brought home the message that what keeps us from experiencing unconditional love is the unhealed guilt which we carry within ourselves. The more we can heal our guilt and forgive ourselves and others, the more peacefully our lives will end. They too reminded us that everyone here has a purpose – which is to learn how to love unconditionally and to forgive – and that unconditional love and random acts of kindness raise the level of humanity and spiritual growth for all of us here on earth. Dr. Lerma’s conversation with his hospice patients, at the border between life and death, gives us all something to contemplate.

For those who have the courage to follow its path, forgiveness reminds us how to live with love in a world filled with guilt and fear. Gregg Braden, in his book, Walking Between the Worlds: The Science of Compassion (1997), eloquently describes the opportunity forgiveness brings to all of us. “Without exception, each event, every relationship, every love, and every betrayal that you have ever experienced has provided you key emotions and feelings leading to your mastery. How you perceive those emotions and feelings, how you define them in your life, is your way of training and teaching yourself, reminding yourself of the promise of forgiveness.”

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 must 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 darkness to gold.

Forgiveness is the hardest thing asked of us to do, yet forgiveness is extremely powerful. When given a structure and focus forgiveness becomes easier to accomplish than when we think of it conceptually. When thinking about a mountain it is hard to think of being on top. This is akin to thinking about the complexities of forgiveness; but if you saw the steps that get you to the top it becomes easier. As long as you think of your struggles with forgiveness it will have difficulties. If you have a simple structure anyone can do it.

There will always be people who have an agenda not to resolve conflict and who do not want to forgive. Those that do want to resolve conflict and who are open to forgiveness will know its power which is greater than the power of any nuclear force we know of today. Forgiveness definitely has the power to change the world in sometimes unimaginable ways.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in fifteen foreign countries. She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill). Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com Twitter