There was a time when I could not see the wonder around me. My circumstance blinded me to beauty, to love. Gripped by fear in an abusive relationship, I was empty inside, a mannequin of sorts going through the motions of life.
I know first-hand the long-lasting impact of violence, and because of that I worry about the peoples of the Middle East, Israel, Palestine, the Ukraine and more. When countries are torn apart by war, the devastation is more than fatalities and mortar craters. The violence burrows into the hearts of the people, leaving them despairing of hope or joy. And they, too, become empty inside.
What are we to do? Who can we trust?
Bishop Desmond Tutu created a pathway for healing the long-standing atrocities of Apartheid, and central to his approach was forgiveness. He stated, Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. It means taking what happened seriously and not minimizing it; drawing out the sting in the memory that threatens our entire existence. By this method, he was able to begin one of the most dramatic healing ventures of all time.
Is such an effort possible now? Can we collectively draw out the sting that there might be peace? If forgiveness can transform my life and so many others, can it do the same for war-torn countries?
I long for the day when we can claim, like F. W. Deklerk at his Nobel lecture, that: The new era which is dawning...will lift us out of the silent grief of our past and into a future in which there will be opportunity and space for joy and beauty - for real and lasting peace.
We need this "real and lasting peace". Can we build a bridge between our differences?