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Forgiveness Forum provides wake-up call

A “Forgiveness Forum” initiated to explore approaches to achieving peace and reconciliation on the global stage was a successful “wake-up” call, said a community leader who joined more than 75 IUPUI international students, faculty, community advocates and representatives from faith and civic organizations.

The daylong workshop on “forgiveness in international perspective” took place Feb. 2 at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, 1100 W. 42nd St. in Indianapolis.

Two survivors of mass genocide who are advocates of “unilateral forgiveness” participated in the forum.

Ian McIntosh, director of international partnerships in the Office of International Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, received a $2,000 grant from the Public Education for Peacebuilding Support initiative of the United States Institute of Peace to hold the forum. McIntosh organized the forum in collaboration with the Amahoro Project for Forgiveness and Reconciliation and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and assisted by K.P. Singh, representing the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis.

Singh credited the success of the event to the compelling testimony of Eva Mozes Kor, a Romanian Holocaust survivor, and Kizito Kalima, a Rwandan genocide survivor, and the presence and participation by a deeply engaged multicultural, multifaith and multigenerational audience.

“It was especially encouraging to see young students from high schools and colleges,” Singh said. “This was a reminder to the adults in the audience that forgiveness, compassion, understanding, tolerance, respect, human dignity, universal assurance and safeguarding of sacred rights; search for peaceful alternatives; and a robust, grass-roots and mature course of action is critical to our future, at this time of great turmoil. Past and ongoing human suffering continues in places around the world where we witness faiths, cultures, communities and nations at war with themselves and others.”

A second event, a public lecture at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, took place Feb. 5. Kalima and McIntosh, who is also an adjunct professor of anthropology and associate director of the Confucius Institute, discussed the strengths and weaknesses of using unilateral forgiveness to achieve long-term peace in a case study from Rwanda.