Ara Pacis Initiative
Roma, Protomoteca del Campidoglio, 20 aprile 2010
Task Force: Empowering Victims (Sostenere le vittime)
Partecipanti: Leonel Narvaez, Eva Mozes Kor, Sami Rasouli, Le Ly Hayslip, Eileen Borris, Donald Shriver, Peggy Shriver, Michael Lapsley, Alexandra Asseily, Loris Facchinetti, Elias Khoury, Fausto Biloslavo
Summary - 14 specific points:
- All sectors of society need to be included in the healing circle and this is to include all children and adolescents.
- We should involve parents and penetrate the curriculum of the schools.
- Children are the future so they can be seen as a starting point.
- We need to deal with inter-generational trauma
- In a sense but you will also need to deal with the memories, therefore you need to include all of society
- Ensure accuracy of the teaching of history to children, verify that they understand the standpoint of both parties involved in historical conflict.
- Everyone needs to be part of the healing cycle.
- Victims and perpetrators should be exposed to each other
- People need to be dealt with dignity and respect
- The value of listening should be stressed.
- We need to realize that we can learn from one another
- We must be healers from one another and learn from previous experiences specifically from different persons.
- We need to recognize that in society all persons are both victims and perpetrators.
- We need to recognize that in particular situations all persons have been at one point in time a victim or perpetrator or both at once.
- When working with victims and perpetrators it is imperative to create a safe container in which persons can speak freely
- A safe and sacred space
- An emphasis on confidentiality should be emphasized
- We need to take responsibility for our actions in peace and forgiveness
- Let the process begin with “me”
- It is necessary to deal with history as a collective memory
- We need to address ancient wounds
- In reference to amnesty
- The government should create a safe environment in which perpetrators are able to admit to their crimes following the acts of violence.
- The timeline in which perpetrators are able to admit to their crimes should be determined contingent upon the arena in which they occurred and the geographic region in which they occurred.
- It is necessary for victims the power of forgiveness and the manner in which it can empower themselves through forgiveness.
- The victims need to realize that the victimization is over.
- We need to deal with the self-hate and the self-deterioration of the victim before the victim deteriorates to the point where they want revenge and become the perpetrator.
- Humanization of the person is more crucial than to define the individual as a victim or a perpetrator.
10. We need to have the ability to listen to different perceptions although we may never agree with the standpoint of another person we should at least listen to where they are coming from in reference to their personal standpoint.
11. We need to pay attention to collective share of guilt in society.
12. There are certain factors which support the forces of forgiveness in society which we need to be sensitive to:
- Symbolic actions
13. Symbolic actions of forgiveness from authorities, specifically the government and leaders of prominent organizations.
14. Promoting self-reparation.
Full notes by Megan Hallahan/Laura Daniels:
Some initial examples of working with victims and perpetrators:
Working with prisoners – church to receive them (Peggy Shriver)
Garden of forgiveness (Alexandra Asseily)
Children, victims of war, often becomes victimizers due to their trauma. So its clear that childhood trauma blocks us from preventing violence. In conflict areas the society is destroyed but the most tragic element is the children, living with hate, death, revenge, violence, they absorb all the trauma around them. We created groups of specialists – doctors, social assistants, men and women who gave the idea of a family, works with children, who were often orphans, to try to heal the trauma and to study the perpetuation of violence through generations because of trauma. Perhaps we can create projects that catalyze our experiences to help the children of Palestine and Israel, Afghanistan or Pakistan, so far this is not done enough. We should study and involve UN, governments, research associations, groups of specialists. He suggested that we utilize resources such as the UN for more support.
How to break the perverse cycle that children born in war and have children more children born into war. (Loris Facchinetti)
We have trained 93, 000 people and continue to train and we are going to hand over a book which speaks of methodology, the book will be given free of charge.(Leonel Narvaez)
Our main objective today is to underline the problem of child and he is proposing that we take advantage of all of our experiences to offer something to specific problems.
We want to identify a problem and then a solution.
In regards to children born into violence there is another program which uses authorities -agencies to help facilitate understanding and forgiveness. It is important to educate children in the process of peace and forgiveness and all of our task forces are interlinked and we hope that we get the summary of each table and from each summary from each table we get one uniform project.
We want to think about the guidelines of how to work with perpetrators and victims.
We need to start small then grow, and when we talk about children this is the most important part as we need to bring children together we need a lot of means we need to begin with small things like education we need heads of schools to bring different races together we don’t need governors or mayors to bring together children to go to museums we just need the funding and we need the participation of the children themselves perhaps in workshops. Though we are living in the same country Jews and Arabs don’t know each other, then need to meet and expose their feelings to each other, they need the opportunity to meet. How can we create small activities to bring children together. (Elias Khoury)
Perhaps it would be better to work with youth rather than children, for example this is what the Institute of Healing of Memories does. (Fr. Michael Lapsley)
In references to guidelines we need to set some forth:
- first guideline would be that we should work with children
we need to verify that the kids do not hit a dead end at home at school or wherever they exist we need to engineer the curriculum to foster the teachings of peace and forgiveness.
- school, kids and parents are the three parts of the triangle.
I brought Americans to Vietnam to work with children to work in workshops to illustrate to these children that life outside of Vietnam is not bad, that America is not bad, that freedom of speech is not bad.(Le Ly Hayslip)
Professor Shriver has apprehension regarding working with children due to the fact that we need to work with adolescents since it is at this age our minds begin to open. Victims and perpetrators should work together to learn what one group of people mean to another group of people . Groups of different people need to talk to each other to understand each other and to confront differences personally and understand personally. As a guideline he would like us to stress the role that victims have by telling stories to those who are groups of perpetrators perhaps not a perpetrator themselves but a member, contrary cultures need to meet and converse and talk about their experiences.
We need to think about what our own projects have been and how could we have been helped had we had access to groups of other individuals around the world. You need to draw from people all over the world to augment to the particular project (it is an overarching guideline to the main guidelines).
We are looking for broader input on how can we collaborate in reference to knowledge, financial resources, people.
Initially if this group comes up with a group of guidelines then we can produce a project or other projects will emerge from this group which each persons will want to contribute. (Eileen Borris)
We are finding guidelines to work with victims and perpetrators we need to create a safe container for the persons to express themselves in a way that becomes constructive and healing so that we can change the stories from a victim to a survivor to a thriver.
- If we do not deal with our own personal histories or if we don’t deal with the memories we are just scraping the surface with both the young and the very old. We need to deal with the fact that we have memory pits.
- We need to start with ourselves and understand the pain that still sits unconsciously in our lives and in our personal history, then there is collective memory.
Eva Mozes Kor pointed out:
1.When the killing stops what would be helpful would be if all the perpetrators were given amnesty for what they have done, this would create an opening for dialogue. There would have been some immediate healing happening if the perpetrators were given amnesty and dialogue could be created. In the case of Nazis nothing happened. The Nazis were hiding and the victims were trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and the children and the grandchildren of the victims were getting mixed messages from their family members and this instilled anger in the children. Within a reasonable time, after the guns stop, we need to set up a hearing “reconciliation hearing” so that people can start dialogue and a forgiveness forum.
2. The victim has to regain the power back in their life in the forgiveness process. It is instant healing to forgive. What if we teach in school a class of forgiveness as a skill for living?
3. Due to the fact that we are working on Palestinian and Israeli conflict she feels both Israelis and the Palestinians are victims. Both Israelis and Palestinians feel they are victims, therefore who are the perpetrators? The big oil companies we are bowing down to.
4. We need to point out who are the victims and who are the victimizers it has to be clear-cut.
Palestinians see themselves as victims of whoever took things from them.
We all bear responsibilities: you are stripping away the status of Palestinians by equating them to Israelis. The perpetrator is always driven economically to harm the victim. In order for the perpetrator to be able to do harm, the driving force (usually an army) needs to dehumanize the victim.
In order to avoid killings, it is necessary to once again make the victims human to the perpetrators. 13 Iraqis made a trip to the United States voluntarily and landed in Minneapolis to meet the counterpart to tell them that they are not terrorist and not infidel and that both parties were victimized by the power of the government etc. (Sami Rasouli)
Most important than identifying the victim/the perpetrator, they need to be humanized by both parties.
It was discussed that we each compete with each other’s pain “my pain is bigger than yours, my pain is more important.” This needs to be eliminated, we just need to understand that each person has pain of certain levels.
Everyone needs to be involved in the peace and forgiveness process due to the fact that victims and perpetrators each switch roles.
Terrorism is a process, terrorists are created then procreated, etc., it is a process, which needs to be stopped.
It is necessary to understand the different narratives of the past but it is not important to agree you just need to understand the different perceptions of each person.
The perpetrator will always be the victim, a the perpetrator has guilt, but the victim will eventually be empowered.
The perpetrator will always live with the guilt and in this he or she have already allowed themselves to be victimized.
Perpetrators should take responsibility to repair what can be repaired the perpetrators need to be helped; you can never completely remove the damage.
Three points to set stage for forgiveness to happen
- Safety – the person needs to feel safe to share
- The reparations – this signals to the victim that the perpetrator is feeling guilty and that is making the victim more apt to forgive.
- We need to set the stage that the apology is important
Mutual respect of all parties is necessary if the perpetrator does not respect the victim the victim will continue to be denied.
We need to have a safe space to express what we feel not just what we think.
The “sorry” needs to come from the heart and not from the “head” and the victim needs to understand that the sorry is coming from the heart in order to forgive.
The seed for reparation is important, self-reparation is so important we have to convince the victims that they possess powerful resources (self-healing).
There has to be a restoration from somewhere different that the perpetrator. We are part of a community we are part of this world the most important thing is that if one part is having the other part of the whole has to come forward to help the hurting part. He used the simile of if our hand is hurting then the rest of the body has to hold the hand to heal the hand. We are all interconnected and we need to recognize that we are all members of humanity.