On Monday 1st February, the first Forgiveness Conversation of 2016 began by reflecting The Forgiveness Project’s broadening of focus to include more ‘everyday’ stories. Founder, Marina Cantacuzino discussed this shift with Maria Arpa, one of the UK’s top mediators and founder of the Centre for Peaceful Solutions.
Marina spoke of the importance of collecting personal stories that explore not just extreme acts of violence and harm, but also the smaller everyday grievances and resentments that impact all of our lives. Maria echoed the importance of this as she explained that she had come to focus on family conflicts since her work with gangs had shown her that almost all gang members had problems with family relationships and that there was ‘trauma at the back of all conflict.’
During the session Maria invited a member of the audience to come forward and present an unresolved issue with a family member to help her demonstrate the Dialogue Road Map (described by Maria as a “communications tool”). As well as supporting the individual to get some insight into their issue it was a way for audience members to witness a method of approaching conflict that they can use in their own lives. Maria then demonstrated how a mediation session might unfold by having two of her former clients role-play a ‘typical’ session with a couple in conflict. In her mediating Maria takes risks, acts on (and even teaches) intuition and is not afraid of allowing rage to blaze between warring parties. ‘We are so conflict avoidant that we create wars,’ she noted.
Referring to the concept of forgiveness Maria agreed with an audience member who asked, ‘Surely if you reach a place of understanding between two people then there is no need to forgive?’ Maria described forgiveness as ‘useful either as a release from a relationship, or in order to re-establish it’. Indeed, as Desmond Tutu has said: ‘If someone is constantly abusing you, being ready to forgive doesn’t mean you have to be a masochist. If you have had someone who repeatedly hurts you, it is far better to release the relationship than to renew it.’
The talk was one of our most popular selling out within a few days. We will be running more talks this year that focus on personal and family issues so do sign up to our newsletter to be kept informed of future events.
To mark the shift, you can support both The Forgiveness Project and the Centre for Peaceful Solutions by buying a copy of Maria’s book Heart of Mindful Relationships and Marina’s book, The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age for £30. This price includes P&P and a donation which will be split between both organisations. Email the office for further details: firstname.lastname@example.org