PILLAR 6 HOPE
Where there is no forgiveness, there is no hope
. We each have within us the ability to hold the best of another
in trust in the sanctuary of ourselves.
Being able to forgive that which is lesser than it should be in a person,
wins a new opportunity for all human life and champions what could be the case.
Hope is knowing that what should be, can be.
World Copyright © Philosophical Frameworks & Feminenza International 2022
Where there is no Forgiveness, there is no Hope
HOPE. Probably one of the most potent essences of life, without which we could not even take our next breath. Hope pulsates in our veins with every heartbeat, it is what wakes us up every morning, and urges us to pick ourselves up when we fall to regroup and keep going.
We, the human species, are given a clean slate and a new opportunity to be at our best each day, regardless of yesterday or the day before. There is always the hope of something greater is summoning us to try again, to break through a stop situation even in the smallest of ways, to conquer whatever held us back in the past, be it in thought, sentiment or conscious perception and value-added feeling that can become remedial and healing into our future.
This is demonstrated in the story of Benjamin Carson's mother in the film “Gifted hands” – a mother's love, absolute belief, and inner certainty of her son's possibility and talents which she relentlessly held in her, for him (and his brother), including forgiving their lesser moments of insults and bouts of anger. She did all she could in her means to provide them with whatever they needed, from the best of herself.
Throughout the Forgiveness sessions and work in the previous pillars, we have met Hope in various stories, which were briefly recalled: Immaculee Ilibagiza, who during the Rwandan genocide hid for 90 days in a tiny bathroom with 8 other women. Amidst the terror of being trapped and hunted day and night by her killers, overwhelmed by feelings of hate and revenge, she recognised that hatred was destroying her. From a deep longing to reconnect to the joy of her life, and a desire for the world to be a better place, she eventually found in herself the strength to choose the path of love, instead of hate and bitterness. She began to hope for ‘what could be’ in the perpetrators: understanding that they were in the grip of a blinding inhuman influence, but still believing their humanity could be salvaged, she was able to forgive and pray for them to one day be returned to their own humanness.
Eva Kor lost both her parents during the holocaust and with her twin sister, endured Dr. Mengele’s experiments at the age of 10. After 50 years of inner torment and struggle, she was able to forgive the past and free herself into the next phase of her life, as she discovered the powerful freedom that her choice opened the door to, freeing her not only from her past but also from the societal stop situation in her own community. Hope in her became her life’s work when speaking publicly about forgiveness, knowing it is the gateway to a much healthier future.
Azim Khamisa, whose 20-year-old son was killed by Tony, a 14-year-old, as part of a gang initiation practice, found a new purpose and hope in his remedying endeavour to stop children from killing other children, and address the causes of why young people join gangs. Along with Plez Felix, Tony’s grandfather, they have worked tirelessly for over 30 years in the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. Its mission is to create safer schools and communities through educating and inspiring children in the restorative principles of accountability, compassion, forgiveness, and peace-making. It is creating a circumstance for something different to happen in children’s lives, offering a different way of thinking to create a different future for them. This would have been impossible to achieve without having a clear vision and knowing that it will make a difference in their lives - even if it is only one life.
It is not difficult to hold the best of someone when they are our child or a loved family member, but much tougher when it is a stranger who has caused harm, and yet there are a few remarkable people who have chosen to champion those who were completely cast out by society and hold the best of them, relentlessly, with great warmth, belief, and understanding.
Erin Gruwell – "Freedom Writers", was a young and passionate high school teacher in one of the toughest schools in LA, where most of the class had been gang members, had seen their friends get killed on the streets, and endured many crushing family circumstances. These students had been completely written off by the school system as failures, their future already predetermined. Erin struggled to find a way to connect with her students so they could believe in themselves and see their potential through her own eyes - her hope for them, and what she knew was possible for their life, where they would not need to stay on the destructive path of gang life and choose a different future. She had succeeded beyond her hopes, despite the condescension she received from other teachers and those close to her. She never gave up holding the best of them in her, creating every possible circumstance for their success.
Father Gregory Boyle a Jesuit priest in Los Angeles, California, created – Homeboy Industries – over 35 years ago. He realized that if there is an opportunity created for ex-cons and gang members, where they are genuinely warmly welcomed to learn new skills and have employment in a safe, respectful ecology, where their lives are valued, it would be life-changing and healing. Homeboy Industries is a bakery, coffee shop – restaurant – that is completely managed and staffed by ex-gang members who have blossomed into a new life, defying every possible stigma (through employment, therapy, education, and human kindness).
One of Gregory Boyle’s core values is that “we belong to each other" and, that all human life on this earth is accountable for its kind. He carries the hope that all human beings will try to hold the best of another, even if they behave or act lesser than they could be.
Both Erin Gruell and Gregory Boyle have managed to evoke hope in gang members. They began to feel their self-esteem as worthy human beings, recognized for their strengths and qualities as they came to life in the presence of those who valued and wholeheartedly believed in them. They began to envision the possibilities that opened up to them, forgiving their past, knowing they did not have to end up in jail again… in most cases, they were the first in their families to graduate high school or go to college and get a degree, or be able to provide their children with the possibility to get higher education. They were filled with the hope of a new life that would otherwise never have happened.
This does not mean that free passes are granted, and all should “suffer fools gladly”. There is a need for accountability and responsibility, but as we choose whatever state of mind to be in, it is important to remember that what we see is never the complete or finished story, and in our quick judgment – we might want to be cautious lest we shut the door in ourselves to what we want to give continuance to in our own humanity, that we hope to belong to.
The session concluded with a simple meditation that can be practiced daily, as a tool to connect and maintain hope for another, which comes from a loving, value-filled place or state of mind, and therefore reaching and connecting to that place helps evoke the vision of the best of another, even when it is challenging.