The Spiritual Council for Global Concerns Working Group of the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns (CSVGC-NY), chaired by Mrs. Sharon Hamilton Getz, held a one-day conference on “The Price of Violence and Dividends in Healing the Wounds of History” at the Nigeria House, on February 15, 2012. Supported by the International Law Development Organization (IDLO) and Universal Peace Federation (UPF), the purpose of the one-day conference addressed the importance of the healing of nations through the work of reconciliation and forgiveness, which are indispensable conditions for real and lasting peace. Afternoon interactive discussions centered on how to deal with these issues and how countries can heal from genocide and war through these programs.
Distinguished speakers presented successful models of reconciliation and peace that have occurred at the United Nations and in their own countries. Speakers included: Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, UN Under-Secretary General and High Representative (2002-2007), H.E. Mrs. U Joy Ogwu, represented by H.E. Mr. Bukun-Olu Onemola, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, H.E. Libran N. Cabactulan, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Jean Francis R. Zinsou, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations, and Mr. Patrizio Civili, Permanent Observer to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in Rome, Italy.
Dr. Borris spoke about her work with the “Schools of Forgiveness” in Nigeria, Lebanon, Rwanda, and South Africa and how she got involved in this work. She spoke of her recent trip to Nigeria and her involvement in a fascinating project sponsored by IDLO as well as her experiences in Beirut, Lebanon, a country grappling with its own healing process and the work being done with the “Garden of Forgiveness.”
Dr. Borris facilitated a session guiding the participants to look into themselves and their circumstances, on the ways in which we express violence, and how we can use the training to transform our own perspectives which cause violent circumstances. Respondent, Mr. Peter Nelson, Head of NY Office of “Facing History and Ourselves” talked about the reason why authoritarian leaders and dictators commit genocide and wars, and the value of education for prevention of conflicts.
The training projected a clear message that those who are able to bring forgiveness into their hearts, as transformation does take place, become forces of good, ending violence and creating new histories based in peace.