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‘Project Forgive’: Now It’s Personal

There have been several ‘macro-projects’ in recent years to allow the perpetrator and the victim the chance to meet, offer and accept repentance, offer and accept forgiveness and to heal. At a national level, probably the best known is South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At a local level, arrangements are often made for the criminal and victim to meet under a system of restorative justice, first tried in the US   in the 1970s.

But now it’s personal. A friend of mine from Empire Avenue, Shawne Duperon, had two friends. In one of those appalling twists of fate, there was a car crash involving the two in which one killed the wife and two children of the other. In that situation, what can a true friend possibly say or do? Well, Shawne is an Emmy award-winning television producer, so she decided to make a film about forgiveness, so touched was she by the degree of forgiveness shown by the victim to the perpetrator.

This is of course not the film. This is to whet your appetite and perhaps solicit your help in order for the film to be made. Project Forgive is seeking funding for the film through Kickstarter, and has until 8:33 a.m., Monday, April 23, 2012, to raise $100,000. Maybe you can help them raise the last few dollars? As I write, they need a further thirteen thousand dollars by Monday. But, irrespective of that, I urge you to visit the Project Forgive site and explore this heart-warming idea, which has every chance of being put into practice.

Finally, this is an example of the redemptive power of social media. People may join Empire Avenue, Twitter and Facebook out of what they perceive to be pure self-interest, and to market their widgets. But, although a tiny minority stick resolutely to this egocentric attitude, the vast majority learn to share their toys, look out for each other, and say please and thank-you in a way they should have known how to do since going into a school playground. But somehow, getting and spending, it is all too easy to forget how good it feels to work together on a common goal,  help someone up when they stumble, share a joke, and in short think of the world outside oneself as the focus, think altruistically.

Here Facebook, Empire Avenue, Twitter and You Tube (or rather their users) have set up a virtuous circle  in which people are sharing their ideas, energy, enthusiasm and prayers. And of course their money as well (the Good Samaritan wouldn’t have been able to do much without his two coins). My heart lifts to be the most minor of cogs in this wonderful network.

Shawne, Kimberly, Teresa and all the team, I salute you!

14 comments on this post:

Emma Geraln said...

I can respect a person for forgiving. However if someone got drunk and took my Son I don’t think I would ever want to meet them, and I doubt I could forgive.

If that makes me a bad person I’m sorry, but I’m looking at him as I write this and those are my feelings.

Lay Anglicana said...

No, Emma, of course it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person! The thing is I believe (and I haven’t asked Shawne, but because she writes that she had to forgive herself before she could forgive others I think she might agree) you need to try to forgive for your own

    sake, not for the sake of the person who wronged you. I hope you will never ever have any experience like the man in the video. But if you put yourself in his place, it is all too easy to imagine (at least I find it all too easy to imagine in my case) what it would be like never to forgive. It would eat away at you and make the situation worse. I am not saying it is easy to do, or even possible. And goodness knows there are one or two people I find hard to forgive who have wronged me in a much smaller way. But I do try and try to forgive – for purely selfish reasons.
19 April 2012 09:40
19 April 2012 09:26
Wayne Mansfied said...

Great comments to intention: Here Facebook, Empire Avenue, Twitter and You Tube (or rather their users) have set up a virtuous circle in which people are sharing their ideas, energy, enthusiasm and prayers.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you Wayne!

19 April 2012 12:19
19 April 2012 10:46
abacnok said...

A drunk driver put my sister in the hospital when I was 14 years old and she never recovered. I have never forgiven the person responseible for her death, even though that person is no longer alive. I have been face to face with the person many times over the years and done many things for that person, but I have never been able to forgive that person. I don’t think I need to forgive myself, because I did not cause my sister’s death. I am sorry, but I just feel the Project Forgive is doing nothing but putting the blame on the victim and giving the person that commited the deed an easy way out. If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you for commenting. I really don’t think it is the intention of Project Forgive to make the victim the guilty party – it is a little difficult to explain in such a short video and I am sure it will become clearer if they have the chance to make the full-length film. Shawne’s idea, as I understand it, is that often people find it impossible to forgive, and then if, say, they have a religious background, feel guilty that they are unable to forgive. Her main idea is, that by continuing to feel anger against the perpetrator of the crime, you are suffering twice over: once at the moment of the crime, and then for the rest of your life. Certainly in South Africa, where appalling things were done in the name of apartheid, when the torturer and the tortured came face to face, they often found it cathartic and a burden was lifted.
As I said to Emma, not being able to forgive certainly doesn’t make you a bad person, it just proves you are a person. What you feel is universal.

19 April 2012 15:13
19 April 2012 12:20
Leona said...

Wow! Sounds like a really emotional and interesting film. I don´t think that I could forgive a person who killed my family. Good luck for the film and all the best for the whole project!

19 April 2012 12:45
Kimberly said...

Well, I am on the other side of Forgiveness; the Sunny-side. You have to take a gargantuous leap of FAITH and I can attest to the fact that my life is now and forever more much lighter and filled with much LOVE for all. Thanks for listening. Kimberly

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you for this Kimberly. I think it is mostly a new idea that people need to forgive for their own sakes, to get to the Sunny Side. Otherwise the person doing the injury injures you forever.

19 April 2012 14:47
19 April 2012 13:34

Almost 14 years ago unknown persons entered the home of my dearest friend and companion of 14 years. They tied him up with his own neckties (I am told) and shot him in the head. The next day at the cemetery (the bury quickly around here) one of his sisters found me in the huge crowd (I wasn´t part of the ¨family¨ or correctly notified about the place/time of the funeral because they didn´t approve of Gay me) and said ¨we must forgive¨ (kinda casually)…I was still in shock, I am angry, I am still grieving after all of these years. Confusion still comes to my mind (my friend was a generous and loving soul) but forgiveness of the murderers never has. BTW, his family didn´t want any investigation (nothing about the murder was in the otherwise overly graphic newspapers) and up until today any ill-feelings I have are directed toward his family who were ashamed of him in life and in death…perhaps that is one of the reasons I campaign for justice and equality at the Anglican Communion as I know that the self-righteous often don´t know what they do (and sometimes are simply hiding behind their very own blame and shame–pitiful Christians who harm others). Un gran abrazo, Leonardo

Lay Anglicana said...

Leonardo querido, what a terrible story. I can only imagine the pain. It is not surprising you cannot forgive the murderers, nor that you cannot forgive his family (whose behaviour I find worse). If you can direct your anger towards his family into your campaign on the Covenant etc etc, then at least you can feel that you are able to use the anger positively. But I think Shawne and Kimberly may be right that you need to avoid turning the anger in on yourself. Having said that, I had no idea that you were carrying this pain, so maybe you are able successfully to channel it. I hug you in return and offer my prayers. Laura.

19 April 2012 15:01
19 April 2012 13:41
Nicolas Liu said...

It’s very hard to forgive if that’s personal. One has too much attached to the lost lives. Though, I agree with the principle. I could not forgive shortly after the incident. I admire his courage.

Lay Anglicana said...

I think you make a key point, Nicolas, in saying you could not forgive shortly after the incident. Neither could I. Whether this man was really able completely to forgive, with every fibre of his being, in the immediate aftermath may be questionable. A favourite blog of mine, by Grandmere Mimi, has as its strapline

Faith is not certainty so much as it is acting-as-if in great hope.

I think it is like that. He knows he needs (for himself) to forgive. He therefore ‘acts as if’ he has forgiven, ‘in great hope’ that it will come to be so. It already is so, with part of his conscious mind. Now he needs the rest of his conscious mind, as well as his unconscious, to follow.


I´ve been a member of a 12 Step organization for 33+ years…often one hears the ¨acting as if¨ suggestion. For many years I believed it was useful until confronted with terrible real life realities (long before the murder of Jose) that couldn´t be pretended away or smoothed over with faux trust in God …on one occassion, betrayl (my most feared thing and I didn´t even know it) and loss of my financial security, I actually ¨fell apart¨ emotionally. It took lots of tender loving care, by me and by kind actions directed toward me by friends and regular ¨professional¨ help (for years), for me to start healing and finally realize that boldy facing reality/dealing with REALITY on a daily basis is wholesome! Far more healthy than hoping, sometimes faithfully, that *things* are different than they really are. Most of my life I had seen virtues and good character in folks where ofthen little had existed…wishful thinking, carelessly lavishing ¨doing unto others as you would have them do unto you¨ wasn´t/isn´t so smart in my codependently self-serving case…being vigilant, questioning and challenging works far better for me (even though it still goes against my do-not-disturb-and-pretend-things-are-rosy innermost instinct that wants to be liked/respected and even loved)…avoiding truth and my actual feelings and innermost behavior isn´t what God has challenged me to do…being totally authentic has some very revealing aspects which help me identify character disorders (and not) that I have…as the above shrink said to me on my first interview/visit ¨You´ll like reality, it just takes some getting used to¨…damn was she right!

20 April 2012 16:33
20 April 2012 06:36
20 April 2012 03:17

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