”F Word” exhibit examines dirty word ’forgiveness’
14 March 2006
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArti ... n=theworld
JOHANNESBURG - A suicide bomber blows your only son to pieces. A paramilitary guns down your father. An intruder rapes you and murders your husband. Could you forgive them?
“The F word: images of forgiveness” exhibition showcases the personal stories of those struck by tragedy around the world, asking how victims are able to forgive the seemingly unforgivable and sometimes bringing them face to face with their attackers.
“Forgiveness is such a complex and difficult issue,” Briton Marina Cantacuzino, who is behind the exhibition, told Reuters in Johannesburg. “Forgiveness can be the highest ideal or a soft option and it can be a dirty word for many.”
Launched in Britain in 2004, “The F word” opened this week in South Africa, a country hailed as a modern miracle whose transition to democracy from apartheid is meant to embody the ideals of forgiveness and reconciliation.
People featured include the brother of a man killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who says he is fighting “unrepentant Christian bigotry” and a woman held hostage and raped by Chechyan rebels.
One of the exhibition’s most famous and striking examples is that of Jo Berry, the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, who was killed in the IRA Brighton bombing. She later became a personal friend of Pat Magee, the man responsible for his death.
“Sometimes when I’ve met with Pat, I’ve had such a clear understanding of his life that there’s nothing to forgive,” Berry, who is pictured with Magee standing expressionless against a brick wall, is quoted as saying.
Cantacuzino said that since starting the project, she has broadened her definition of forgiveness and now uses the exhibition to explore alternatives to tit-for-tat violence, rather than simply featuring super-human acts of stoicism.
“One day you might forgive and the next you hate all over again,” she said. “My favourite definition of forgiveness is a struggle for understanding.”
While forgiveness is a central tenet of the Christian faith, Cantacuzino says she has tried to limit explicit religious references to avoid the idea that only Christians can forgive.
The exhibition, which includes more than 50 stories, each accompanied by a photograph, features several tales from South Africa, highlighting the residual pain 12 year after the end of apartheid, despite some impressive cases of reconciliation.
Father Michael Lapsey, a white anti-apartheid activist whose hands were blown off by a letter bomb while in exile, says he ”can be more of a priest with no hands than with two hands”, and is pictured sipping a cup of tea which he holds with metal pincers attached to his arms.
But Sarah Letanta, who was shot during South Africa’s political violence of the early 1990s, is less forgiving: “I hate the people who did this to me. I’d like revenge.”
Others featured in the exhibition have also struggled to forgive. Mariane Pearl, who was pregnant when her husband US reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan by Islamic militants, has sought the death penalty for his killers.
“Forgiveness is not a value strong enough to stand on. You have to win some sort of victory over the people who have hurt you,” she is quoted as saying.
Anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who contributes to the exhibition, disagrees: “To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest.”
i like that comment by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest.”
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