Award-Winning Musician Practices Forgiveness–Even for His Father’s Killer

The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA – Over a 100-day period beginning on April 6, 1994, nearly 1 million Rwandan Tutsis lost their lives at the hands of their fellow Rwandans, the Hutus. Prior to the outbreak of that genocide, Jean Paul Samputu, Rwanda Mapa Tutsi and at the time a rising star on the East African music scene, spent six months in jail, along with thousands of other Tutsis who had been arrested at their homes.

When he was released from jail, his father urged him to flee the country. While Jean Paul escaped to neighboring Burundi and Uganda, the elder Samputu stayed behind in his village. In the nightmare of genocidal rage that followed, Jean Paul lost his father, mother, three brothers, and a sister.

Struggling with grief, anger, and desperation, Samputu slid into drinking and drugs, causing his career, his health, and his private life to spiral downward.

In 2003, Samputu found himself on Prayer Mountain, a real place in Uganda. There, he says, God showed him that he needed to forgive. “That’s when I said yes to God. I can forgive,” Samputu recalls. “I got a great peace in my heart.” He also vowed that he would take his message of forgiveness all over the world.

SamputuReturning to his native village, Samputu found and forgave the former neighbor who had killed his father. Despite the irrationality of it all, the two men worked together over the next few years to bring their message of forgiveness to all of Rwanda.

“Forgiveness is for you, not the offender. Forgiveness is the only thing that can stop the cycle of violence, the culture of revenge,” Samputu says. “If we don’t want another genocide, our children must learn this message.”

Samputu also returned to his music and his career took off. He won the Kora Award (the African Grammy) for Most Promising African Male Artist. Three years later, in 2006, he won First Place for World Music in the International Songwriting Competition. And in 2007, he was recognized as an “ambassador of peace” by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.

Today, Samputu, who sings in six languages, has established himself as one of the most prominent African artists on the world stage. He is an international ambassador for peace, speaking at the UN and at universities throughout Japan, Canada, Mizerothe US, and Germany. His nonprofit group, The Mizero Foundation, focuses on teaching gender equality and the empowerment of women.

He also formed a music and dance group called Mizero Children of Rwanda. These 15 children, all orphaned by the genocide, traveled with him throughout Africa, Canada, and the United States, singing, dancing, and delivering a message of forgiveness.

Read the full story: “Jean Paul Samputu practices forgiveness even for his father’s killer.”

Do You Want to Become a Forgiving Person?

“I hope you are beginning to see that forgiveness is not only something The Forgiving Life-Coveryou do, nor is it just a feeling or a thought inside you. It pervades your very being. Forgiveness, in other words, might become a part of your identity, a part of who you are as a person. Try this thought on for size to see if it fits: I am a forgiving person. Did that hurt or feel strange? Try it again. Of course, to say something like this and then to live your life this way will take plenty of practice. Part of that practice is to get to know the entire process of forgiveness.”

Excerpt (page 79) from the book, The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love, by Dr. Robert Enright, Ph.D.

Robert

The one I am having the toughest time forgiving is myself. I have done some stuff that is not so great. I have a hard time letting myself off the hook. Any suggestions?

First, let us realize that when we forgive other people who have hurt us, we are exercising the moral virtue of love. We are loving that person, as best we can, not because of what was done, but in spite of that. Try forgiving others first, even if the hurt you experienced is not strong. I want you to get used to offering love to those who have been unfair.

Once you have done that, then consider practicing loving yourself, not because of what you have done, but in spite of that. This does not “let you off the hook,” as they say. If your actions have offended others and not just yourself, then go to those others and ask for forgiveness; make amends. You might begin to find that you can now forgive yourself by unconditionally loving yourself as you have learned to love others.

When I was a child, my father abandoned the family. Once I was grown and he did not have the pressures of parenthood, he came to me and asked for my forgiveness. I refused because I was so angry. Should I now ask my father to forgive me for not forgiving him when he asked?

You were not ready to forgive your father and now it seems that you are. Please forgive your father first, if you have not done so. Then go to him and ask for his forgiveness. Please be patient with him because he may be hurt by your earlier refusal. Also, please consider forgiving yourself for not forgiving him earlier. Please be gentle with yourself on this. After all, the hurt you suffered from your father is deep and you needed time to sort it all out.

In Memoriam: Anne Gallagher, Seeds of Hope

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of a true patriot for peace, Anne Gallagher of Dublin, Ireland (August 7, 2013).

Anne started the peace organization, Seeds of Hope, in Ireland as a way to counter the after-effects of The Troubles. Even though the peace accord was signed in 1998, hearts were still embittered by the struggles that began to erupt in early 1972 with Bloody Sunday. Some of Anne’s friends and relations took up combat and were part of paramilitary organizations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Anne, in contrast, sought dialogue as a way to peace.

Anne was instrumental in the International Forgiveness Institute’s transition to forgiveness education in Belfast. She tirelessly set up meetings with us at various schools such as Ligoniel, St. Vincent de Paul, and Mercy Primary School. Because of Anne’s endorsement of us, doors flew open and within about one month of trying, we were accepted into schools within the inter-face areas of the city (where contentious groups live segregated lives but in close proximity to one another).

……………………. ANNE GALLAGHER (1953-2013) ……………………

I recall vividly in 2003 sitting with three ex-combatants who wanted to know more about forgiveness education. They were unsure if it was a good idea. Anne set up the meeting. You see, we needed their permission to go into a particular school because some of the ex-combatants informally controlled their neighborhoods. One of them, battle-tested, said to me, “My son is in that school. Forgiveness will make him weak.” I swallowed hard and asked, “Do you want your son to grow up and live as you have?” He bowed his head and with love in his heart for his son said, “No.” It was then that he gave us permission to enter the school.

Anne was always close to danger like this. She did not care, even though some of her brothers were scared for her. Yet, she had a spark in her eyes and a conviction deep within that peace must be sought even if it meant putting oneself on the line at times.

Anne Gallagher represents peace in Ireland. We at the IFI will do our best to keep alive her vision for Seeds of Hope in each human heart. Peace be with you now, Anne.

Robert

Author’s Note: Read about the Northern Ireland Troubles, about Bloody Sunday, and about learning to forgive in the “Seeds of Hope Ex-Prisoners Think Tank Report” co-authored by Anne Gallagher (whose four brothers became involved in the Northern Ireland conflict and served long prison sentences, one being shot dead upon his release.)
— Anne Gallagher photo by Brian Moody

Forgiveness Does Not Require Abandoning…..Resentment……..Is This True?

What is resentment? It is the harboring of persistent ill will.

What is forgiveness? It is mercy on those who have been unfair to us.

ResentmentThere is a contradiction if we have persistent ill will and say that we have forgiven.

There is no contradiction if we are in the process of forgiveness and have resentment, as long as we realize that one of our goals is the abandonment of that resentment.

There is no contradiction if we have some residual anger after we have forgiven, as long as that anger is not harsh toward the offender or toxic within ourselves.

Residual anger is not the same as resentment.

We have to be careful not to equate residual (non-toxic) anger and resentment. Otherwise, we pat ourselves on the back in the name of forgiveness when we are still poisoning ourselves and perhaps others.Resentment hurts you not them

We have to be careful not to equate forgiveness and a total absence of any anger whatsoever. Otherwise, we might condemn ourselves and feel guilt because we think we have not forgiven when we have.

A little anger left over is part of the imperfect human condition. Yes, we can continue to forgive, but we need not expect perfection today.

Robert

From A Story of Evil, A Lesson In Forgiveness

Beverly Donofrio is known for her best-selling memoir “Riding in Cars with Boys,” where she wrote about her experience as a teen mom. That book was made into a film starring Drew Barrymore in 2001. Riding in cars with boys 2

She followed up with “Looking for Mary,” a memoir about her spiritual life. But just as she was taking the next step in her spiritual life, planning to join a monastery in Mexico, she was raped at knife point in her own home. But instead of succumbing to fear and shame, she fought back in her own way. Now she shares that story and her journey of healing through forgiveness in a new book called “Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace.”

During an interview on NPR, Donofrio explained how she survived the rape by praying out loud the Hail Mary in Spanish:

Beverly Donofrio 2
Beverly Donofrio

“And he (the attacker) said, you’re praying, stop praying. And I said, I’m praying for you, which was a lie, and then I thought, well, it should be the truth. So then I said a Hail Mary interiorly, praying for him, that he see what he was doing, the wrong in it, and heal from whatever was making him do it. And then the next Hail Mary, I’m praying, please, Jesus, God, Mary, every angel, saint, dead relative, get this man out of my house.”

Surprisingly, the man backed off the bed and left.

The next day, Donofrio wrote an article for the local newspaper detailing her experience and offering advice for other women who might become victims of rape. Five days after the story ran in the newspaper, the man who attacked her was captured. He was the serial rapist who had been attacking women in the town for eight months, severely beating two of the women who had fought back.

Asked how she began the healing process. Donofrio said, “Well, you know, when you can’t forgive – and I couldn’t for a long time – it hurts you. It doesn’t hurt the person or anyone else. It’s you that it’s hurting, keeping negative, angry feelings alive. I mean, I couldn’t help those feelings. I was angry, but I did have the will. I knew that I wanted to forgive because I wanted to just let it go and get on. It took probably four years before this happened. And I do feel healed.”

Read more of the NPR interview, “From A Story of Evil, A Lesson In Forgiveness.” Her book is available at amazon.com.