Sunday, December 2, 2012

No More Taking Sides

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 2, 2012
                To my sisters and brothers at the 3rd Annual Mediation Symposium of the Mediation Board on “Transforming Trinidad and Tobago Through Mediation,” in gratitude for our time together:
                After returning home yesterday I fell asleep early last night.  I awoke as the bedside clock showed 6:57.  I decided that this morning I would like to hear “On Being”—a weekly interview program that airs on my local public radio station from 7-8 Sunday mornings, where I often go for a homily.  Please do go to this week’s program at featuring a network of murder victims family members across the Israeli-Palestinian sides, in a “restorative justice” network called “No More Taking Sides” that extends across national boundaries across the region.  The website also links to a documentary the show made in the region, and the unedited interview from which the program has been put together.  Network creator Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad build on their personal stories to describe how sharing of pain across sides rather than inflicting pain on the murderers is the way that memories of how loved ones lived and what they displaces memories of moments of death and loss—the process many of us at the symposium called “forgiveness.”  They respond to the entropy of death and tragedy with doses of human synergy.  Together, theirs is a story of stories of personal transformation, in the manner of stories of personal and professional transformation I shared with you.  They, like many survivors of extreme violence whose stories I have been privileged to hear, speak with the authority of those who live closely and personally in the midst of horrendous organized violence—gang warfare on a grand scale.  Their “No More Taking Sides” program embodies the celebration of mediation I experienced with you this past week.  Pass the radio show on.
                Every formal occasion I have attended in Trinidad begins with your national anthem and a prayer for God’s blessing.  Prayers may be offered by children of Abraham, by Hindus, by Buddhists,  and as at the International Conference on Penal Abolition at the University of the West Indies last June, by Caribs.  I have no name for this spirit, but I feel its presence constantly.  I believe the spirit moved me to get up and tune into a radio program first thing this morning.  I think it no accident that I heard it just as I was trying to figure out how to put my time with you into words.  I believe it no accident that in the religious tradition my mother introduced to me, this is happening on a Sunday morning.  Thank you.  Love and peace--Hal

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