‘No Enemy to Conquer’- a Book (Inspiring) by Michael Henderson

Article Title: ‘No Enemy to Conquer’- a Book (Inspiring) by Michael Henderson

Submitted by Craig Lock

Key words (tags): books, good books, ‘No Enemy to Forgive‘’, Michael Henderson, forgiveness, stories of forgiveness, hope, inspiration, empowerment

Web sites:

michaelhenderson.org.uk/

www. and http://www.mh.iofc.org/no-enemy-to-conquer-reviews 

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NO ENEMY TO CONQUER REVIEWS AND COMMENT

A Book by Michael Henderson (the Optomistic Realist)

Sourced from: http://www.mh.iofc.org/no-enemy-to-conquer-reviews

Publishers Weekly

The Irish News

The Catholic Times, UK

The Washington Times

New City

TIKKUN

The Huffington Post

The Invitation

EMEL

Chicago Crescent

Justice and Peace Scotland

Tikkun Daily

Spirituality and Practice

Women Word Spirit

Eastern Eye

Christian Science Sentinel

The Examiner

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) ‘Chaplains’ e-Zine’

The Tennessean

The Good Book Stall

Church of Ireland Gazette

Belfast Telegraph

The Huntsville Times

In Print

Blog by Hilary Wilce

ReviewScout.com

Bill Tammeus, ‘Kansas City ‘Faith Matters’ blogger

The Christian Century

Comment on No Enemy To Conquer
Dr. John Sentamu,The Archbishop of York UK

www.michaelhenderson.org.uk/Jesus Christ teaches us all about the power of forgiveness. Michael Henderson’s book highlights that power in action.

Forgiveness has for a long time been regarded as a purely religious construct but Michael Henderson puts this long-neglected subject into a more political context. He takes the concept from its personal and religious realms and shows its relevance to political life. This is an innovative and a pioneering book that invites us all personally and collectively to develop the most fundamental of moral virtues, forgiveness.

This is a masterful work of a brilliant mind that deserves its place on any bookshelf. Its lucid, open-minded and poignant stories reveal how human beings on the one hand can be capable of the most unspeakable atrocities and the most devilish of acts against their fellow beings but yet also at the same time are able to demonstrate in abundance the divine characteristics of mercy, love, compassion and selfless sacrifice.

These compelling true stories from some of the most courageous yet seemingly ordinary people illustrate the powerful nature of the virtue of forgiveness. This short book is a genuine masterpiece that weaves the diverse threads of theology, morality and politics in a seamless way.

In short,

“Everyone should read your books for they contain fabulous stories of apology and forgiveness that reveal a completely different expression of human nature that is perpetually overshadowed in our violence driven media cultures. But your accounts are all equally true and expressive of the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity of even the worst societies to change.”

This book is a sanguine and much-needed way forward and it is a must not only for the students and scholars of politics and religious ethics but also for general readers.

This is a timely and necessary book from the pens of distinguished public figures and writers. Showing clearly that there is no military solution to the many problems we face, it is a humane and thoughtful guidebook to the troubled times we live in.

Never has a darkening world more needed tactics of reconciliation and of its handmaiden, forgiveness. This fine and welcome book does the ultimate: it tells is HOW it can be done and has been done in history. A big Thank You to Michael Henderson again!

These beautifully written and sensitively told stories of forgiveness and peace should provide inspiration and hope for many readers.

Need a strong dose of hope for the future of the human race? Read this book. In numerous true stories, it offers antidotes to despair over our human proclivity for killing and degrading one another. The name of this good medicine is forgiveness, and the health that it portends is reconciliation between peoples torn apart by great crimes. These stories are balm for hurt minds, especially the minds of us who struggle over the mystery of evil in human affairs. Better, after reading this book, to stand in awe at the mystery of the good.

Violence and other forms of sin shrink our lives and our imaginations; forgiveness enables them to expand. In this engaging and stimulating book, Michael Henderson tells stories of extraordinary people from around the world whose commitment to forgiveness stirs our imaginations and offers hope for new life in the future – for all of us wise enough to heed their examples.

A book that never evades the terrible reality of suffering and injustice, and yet whose answers burn with honesty. Here is the climb upward to healing, brave, difficult but possible. Read it and be filled with admiration and hope.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this subject, because without forgiveness there is no future for mankind or for anyone of us. Forgiveness is a power available to anyone who truly desires it, both victim and perpetrator. It is the only hope also for nations that have lived in perpetual violence towards each other. Forgiveness is a power that we can decide for, and it can be bestowed on anyone.

Michael Henderson has written an extraordinary, inspirational book based on more than 25 narratives of people, groups, and nations who have taken the initiative to reconcile – to heal – destructive conflicts that seemed to have no end. The efforts of these healers are clearly acts of courage given the risks to their reputations and even to their lives. Scholars and lay readers will use these narratives to identify and study the various aspects of the interactions of each party that lead to the relinquishing of revenge and experiencing each other in a new light. They will observe how emotional healing results from many factors including the restoration of dignity, the mutual respect of life stories, apologies and forgiveness. Many of the narratives are so moving that they brought tears to my eyes.

The number of nations and groups (representing all continents) involved in these destructive conflicts illustrates the prevalence of harmful, vengeful behaviors on our earth. The courage and commitment of an increasing number of people and groups who are willing to risk so much to resolve these conflicts and preserve our existence is testimony to the success of Michael Henderson and his colleagues who study and write about those who exercise the power to heal. This book is a major contribution toward understanding and implementing these healing processes. This work is an essential counterforce to the destructive tendencies of people and societies.
Aaron Lazare,
Haidak

These are extraordinary stories that you will never forget. In No Enemy to Conquer Michael Henderson takes us across the globe and shares with us the remarkable journeys that have led individuals and families to a place of hope and healing. His writing is honest, unambiguous and without sentimentality. The authors invited to share their reflections on the stories in this book give us an absolutely brilliant analysis of the profoundly human moments retold by Henderson. With compassion and clarity, Henderson invites us to witness the compelling power of forgiveness and to listen to the voices of people who dared to follow the wisdom of the heart. He leaves us with this message: forgiveness and reconciliation are vital for the repair of brokenness in the aftermath of trauma. The book is a careful and serious attempt to shift the emphasis from revenge to forgiveness and reconciliation. Readers will take away a deep appreciation of this fact: justice begins when the freedom to avenge a wrong is questioned. And here, Henderson shows us, where vengeance is arrested, forgiveness will blossom.

Sourced from: http://www.mh.iofc.org/no-enemy-to-conquer-reviews

About the author:

MICHAEL HENDERSON is a freelance journalist and the author of eleven books, including No Enemy To Conquer – Forgiveness in An Unforgiving World and See You After the Duration – the Story of British Evacuees to North America in World War II. He has been a TV presenter, a broadcaster and for more than fifty years worked for peace and understanding in some 25 countries. Read more

Ice in Every Carriage

Shared by craig (who is writing his own book on true stories of forgiveness (and the amazing power of forgiveness)

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it’s an ongoing state of mind. A long and ardous journey that starts with a single large step – in spite of immense pain, the decision to forgive, a commitment to the ideal… and one that gives freedom… to the forgiven, yet also to the forgiver.”

- craig

The various books that Craig “felt inspired to write”are available at:

Craig’s blog (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) is at

http://en.search.wordpress.com/?q=%22craig+lock%22&t=post and http://craiglock.wordpress.comhttp://www.creativekiwis.com/books.html#craig and www.lulu.com/craiglock
Michael Henderson’s latest book is now available. You can read the foreword by Rajmohan Gandhi here.

Pumla Gobodo Madikizela, Associate professor of psychology, University of Cape Town, author of A Human Being Died That Night: a South African Story of Forgiveness South Africa
Distinguished Professsor of Medical Education and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School whose books include On Apology USA
Johann Christoph Arnold, Author of Seventy Times Seven: the Power of Forgiveness USA
Anne Perry, Crime novelist, author of ‘Buckingham Palace Gardens’ and 56 other books UK
Greg Jones, Dean and Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity SchoolUSA
Donald W. Shriver, President Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, New York USA
Trudy Govier, author of Forgiveness and Revenge, and Taking Wrongs Seriously Canada
Georgie Anne Geyer, Syndicated columnist USA
Martin Bell OBE,UNICEF ambassador and former war correspondent and member of Parliament UKNo Enemy to Conquer offers constructive and positive rays of hope to a world that lives under the perpetual and ominous shadow of the dreadful phrase ‘the clash of civilisations’. Comment on his blog by Rabbi Marc Gopin, Director of the Center on World Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University.
Imam Musharraf Hussain, Chair, Christian Muslim Forum UKwww.christiancentury.org/article.lasso, Frank Ramirez writes: “It is often assumed that forgiveness is impossible in the face of extraordinary evil. In No Enemy to Conquer, Michael Henderson, a freelance journalist who lives in England and has written many books on peace, faith and forgiveness, blows away that assumption by cataloging example after example of people who have chosen to live richly despite suffering terrible wrongs.”
Read review here., wrote on May 9: “To follow the previous two books, this one celebrates the power to forgive and to create new possibilities after terrible breaches. Drawing inspirational — at times almost unbelievable — stories from all over the world, the author describes what it took to offer forgiveness and what difference it made. In the end, this is a book of hope in a world in desperate need of exactly that.” Read full review here., W. Simantel writes: Accolade (Rating 5 of 5)
“This book should be required reading, not only for the general populace, but also for our so called ‘leaders’, both in government and in all faiths. Perhaps it would remind, especially church leaders, “to practice what they preach”. I was afraid the book would be a heavy read, but on the contrary, it was easy and easily understood, – it is rare for me to find such a book ‘unputdownable’. The message is simple yet contains a mountain of wisdom that we would all do well to absorb. If you have not read this book…read it. If you have already read the book…read it again. Thank you Michael for delivering this important message.” , British journalist and writer, specialising in education and learning on 26 March: “Retribution is in the air. Everyone wants a go at Fred the Shred. But a new book asks us instead to consider the power of forgiveness. I can’t decide if this makes it brilliantly timely, or badly out-of-step with the times, but whatever it is, it is important.” click here.Read full blog here.: “Their stories show the best that people are capable of under the worst circumstances: victims of extraordinary loss extend themselves to the perpetrators; courageous men and women reach out across religious, cultural and political boundaries to talk with the other; and people acknowledge responsibility for wrongs done by themselves or their communities, allowing victims to heal, move beyond the desire for revenge, and stop the cycle of violence.” To read the full text of the review , Arkansas: “No Enemy To Conquer: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World,” by Michael Henderson, looks at examples around the world of how violence was ended by individual acts of forgiveness and reconciliation. Henderson counters forgiveness’ “image problem” of being seen as something weak by offering story after story of people extending courageous and revolutionary forgiveness to an enemy. As he quotes Rajmohan Gandhi, “The stuff of forgiveness is sterner than suspected.” To read online click here.: In the religion column, published 5 September 2009: Another host of useful insights into forgiveness are contained in Michael Henderson’s timely book No Enemy To Conquer. This wide-ranging publication focuses on forgiveness in a global context, but there is refreshingly hard-headed assessment of Northern Ireland. Henderson points out that the “profound changes ” here have not been achieved principally through forgiveness or repentance, but rather through a combination of some hard-liners softening their views, economic packages and development, and also persistence by the American, British and Irish Governments. He also warns that the political advances need to be underpinned by those who can build relationships and trust, in order to help heal the deep bitterness that remains.Download review (PDF page 12) here.: Stephen R White writes on 22nd May “A well worthwhile reflection on a topic of universally vital importance.” click here.: “When the world seems no nearer to peace, a copy of this book should be given to all world leaders!” To read the full text of the review click here.: with the heading “Book shows that forgiveness can topple defeatism” the review says “What’s hopeful about such stories is they bear witness to the unexpected. Forgiveness overthrows the day’s defeatism.” To read the full text of review click here.: “However, for me, it was the degree of hope Michael gave to the reader that clinched this book as ’a must’. No Enemy to Conquer reveals that we have an inner enemy, prejudice, and opens up to for us the grace of forgiveness, which can lead us to a genuine inner and outer peace. Senator George Mitchell said: ‘For a durable peace and a genuine reconciliation there needs to be a decommissioning of mindsets’ this book achieves this. Many who read Michael’s book will find themselves on a life-changing journey, as he reveals his hope for mankind.” To read the full text of review in Independence, Missouri: with the heading “Concern for others is what matters” its opening paragraph says “It is true that the world is infested with several hot spots where anger, killings, violence and hatred are a part of daily life. It is equally true that many nations, including our own, have a tendency to solve violence with more violence, even though recent experience has shown us it is not very successful. Anger, violence and hatred seem to breed more violence and hatred; leading many to believe there is no way out of this vicious cycle. To those I would strongly recommend “No Enemy to Conquer; Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World,” by Michael Henderson.” To read the article (March 30, 2009): “Once again Henderson takes readers across the globe to share remarkable accounts of forgiveness that has led individuals, families, and national leaders to places of hope and healing. Unambiguously and without sentimentality, he makes the point that where vengeance finds resistance, forgiveness blossoms.” To read full text of review , a leading British Asian newspaper, carries an article on its editorial page by the author. It is headed “Peace among men” and introduced with the words “The difficult ability to forgive is being lost in a world where violence is predominant, but it is needed now more than ever before, argues the author of a new book, No Enemy to Conquer.” To read the article , ‘the voice of catholic women’s network’, has a summer issue devoted to forgiveness. A long review of No Enemy To Conquer describes fully the contents of the book. Catherine Rowland starts her review: ‘In this moving book, Michael Henderson tells the stories of people from all parts of the world who have experienced the transformative power of forgiveness, both in forgiving others and in being forgiven themselves. These are stories about people who, having been through traumatic experiences, explore the meaning of forgiveness in their lives. For some of them it means seeking justice but never revenge, for others it means reaching out to people who were once their enemies. The process of seeking forgiveness or of receiving forgiveness, changes each of them dramatically. Many of them begin to work for peace in desperate and often hopeless situtaions, sometimes, personal or cultural, sometimes international.’ Catherine ends her review:: ‘We can all think of groups, societies etc who we would wish could take these principles to heart. How about the Churches, the Police, the Councils, the Government, for a start? But we also have to remember that we must start with ourselves. A truly remarkable book.’: “An impressive, inspiring and edifying book on the spiritual practice of forgiveness in the public arena… We highly recommend No Enemy To Conquer and hope that it is widely read, discussed, and its lessons applied in communities around the world.” To read full text of review , a leading Jewish magazine: David Belden writes “”I asked my old friend Michael Henderson to send me a true story from his latest book, No Enemy To Conquer: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World. I had no idea he would have one so central to Tikkun’s mission.” To read full text , the magazine of the Catholic Social Movement: The October issue has a whole page review of No Enemy To Conquer by Alec Porter. The reviewer writes, ‘This book, recently published is very timely for us in Scotland in the midst of the controversy surrounding the release of Mr. Al-Megrahi. In deeply moving stories of people in deadlocked situations all over the world, Henderson illustrates the transformative power of forgiveness – both for those who forgive and those who seek foprgiveness to find a way out of conflict. He describes various stories in the book and writes, ‘Undoubtedly the power common to all those peace-building relationships is the Spirit of God at work in gthe hearts of people.’ Porter concludes his review, ‘One quote that stood out for me and in a way sums up the main issue being addressed by the book is from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “The biggest weapon of mass destruction is the hate in our souls.” Overcoming this is the challenge that we must all rise to.’, the monthly publication of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, and one of the most influential Muslim publications in America, in its July 2010 edition:’No enemy to conquer offers a passionate, well-researched defense of the virtue of forgiveness and its place in healing hate and conflict while establishing peace and justice at a grassroots leveal all over the world.’, ‘the Muslim Lifestyle Magazine’: Forgiveness often seems impossible in today’s contentious world. This book presents stories of real men and women of different faiths and cultures reaching out to reconcile with others, previously deemed their ‘enemies’. Moving on in life from the position of victim through the healing process of forgiveness is epitomised in the example of the IRA’s chief explosives officer, Patrick Magee who planned the attack at England’s Grand Hotel in Brighton, being reconciled with the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry who was murdered in the blast. Henderson makes a strong case for the moral and ethical aptitude of forgiveness in public life and answers the concerns of those who have a difficult time with this essentially spiritual practice, which is held in such high esteem by all the world’s religions. Henderson has divided the book into segments on: Clash or Alliance?, Reaching out to ‘The Other’, Moving Beyond Victimhood, Taking Responsibility, Creating Safe Space, and Acknowledging the Past. Each section contains commentaries by world leaders, activists and peacemakers such as Desmond Tutu, the late Benazir Bhutto, Betty Bigombe, Rajmohan Gandhi, Joseph Montville, David Smock, Margaret Smith, Donna Hicks and Mohammed Abu-Nimer. A major emphasis in the book is to chart the great strides forward in the strained relationships between Christians and Muslims. No Enemy To Conquer is ideal for those who wish to grasp how human nature can be so forgiving in an unforgiving world. It gives you a strong dose of hope that is much needed in an increasingly cynical world.In the UK Islamic Community Magazine, Imam Dr Musharraf Hussain, a joint Chairman of the Christian-Muslim Forum of Britain writes “‘This book represents a tour de force between victims and offenders and soul-stirring tales of human goodness. One of the greatest insights that emerges from ‘No Enemy to Conquer’ then is that forgiveness means that we become capable of living with the past without being held its captive.” : : Marina Cantacuzino, the founder of The Forgiveness Project, reviews Michael Henderson’s book on this authoritative liberal website. Under the headline ‘The easy path to Islamic extremism’, she writes, “One of Henderson’s aims in writing No Enemy to Conquer is to bridge this dangeous gulf and find an ‘appreciation of our brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith.’ One way he does this is to recount stories where fear of former, or perceived, extremists has blended into understanding through simply listening to the other’s story – a process which re-humanizes the enemy.” To read the article , one of the leading Jewish magazines in the United States has a review by Roger S. Gottlieb (writing about No Enemy to Conquer and another book, Beyond Revenge: the evolution of the forgiveness instinct by Michael McCullough): “And in fact many of the narratives in Henderson’s serious, thoughtful, and at times compelling book confirm McCullough’s positions, but they also include some important elements that McCullough ignores…Despite these authors’ serious attempts to make forgiveness comprehensible, the human heart remains a mystery to us all. Yet at least these books tell us that the changes are possible for us as human beings and have many times, against all expectation, actually occurred. That alone makes both of them very much worth reading.” To read the article , the magazine of the Focolare Movement: Frank Johnson writes “No Enemy to Conquer is a remarkable book because it doesn’t moralise but simply lets the power of personal and group experiences of real situations go to work on the reader. It should be on the shelf of every politician and every individual who consider themselves committed to the cause of peace and harmony. It deserves as wide a readership as possible.” To read the article : Julia Duin writes “These are gut-wrenching things I cannot imagine forgiving… So, should I delete the message in my outbox? I’m not able to. Not yet.” To read the article click here.click here.click here.click here.Read more here.click here.click here. click here.click here.click here.: Joanna Bogle writes in her four-column review: ‘This is a gripping book to read, as it is full of separate adventure stories. What they all have in common is that someone who suffered a great injury at the hands of another is able to forgive, and in doing so creates a whole new range of possibilities. Here, then, are tales of Arab-Israeli understanding, of healing and reconciliation in war-torn parts of Africa, in Northern Ireland, and on the India-Pakistan border…. I was touched and impressed by stories of Israeli-Arab conversations, and had not realized the risks taken there—these are noble tales and worth recounting.’ She concludes: ‘There is a mystery about evil, as anyone who has experienced it will know. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t try to do what is right, and the attempt to behave decently is itself ennobling. A book worth reading.’: Under the headline ‘Letting go of resentment can free us from past pain’, Anne Hailes writes “Michael’s book is compelling. Every page is worth reading and the beauty about it is this author doesn’t preach, he puts forward modern experiences of people in Nigeria, Israela and Palestine, Germany, Rwanda, the United States, Northern Ireland and many more…. Certainly this book will make you stop to consider your approach to life and living and offer some guidance.” To read the full text of review : “…a blissful read and a persuasive argument for forgiveness as a practical tool for global survival….Henderson shows the real muscle behind forgiveness, avoiding preciousness and sentimentality. He writes, ‘Forgiveness has an image problem’—with this latest effort, perhaps no more.” To read full text of review click here. click here.

Posted in Books (inspiration), forgiveness, hope, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

AMY BIEHL AND THE IMPROBABLE TALE OF FORGIVENESS AND REDEMPTION

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMY BIEHL AND THE IMPROBABLE TALE OF FORGIVENESS AND REDEMPTION

Sourced from: http://thejourneyofhope.blogspot.com/2009/03/amy-biehl-and-improbable-tale-of.html

Key words (tags): Amy Biehl, South Africa, Peter and Linda Biehl, forgiveness, stories of forgiveness, hope, Los Angeles Times

Amy Biehl: A story of South Africa and restorative justice (weaving together two articles which tell of the prism and power of love in and for South Africa)

Associated Press file photo

Linda Biehl, the mother of Amy Biehl, holds up a photograph of her daughter during a visit to South Africa in April. Two of the men who killed Amy Biehl 15 years ago as part of a mob now work for the charity established by the Biehl family after the murder.

A journey of forgiveness for Amy Biehl’s killers

The spirit of the Santa Fe High graduate who died in South Africa 15 years ago, lives on through the good works of the men who took her life.

Scott Kraft Los Angeles Times

10/25/2008

GUGULETU, South Africa

Easy Nofemela remembers the evening Amy Biehl died. Coal stoves from township shacks had painted the twilight a sooty gray, signaling a cold winter’s night. Guguletu’s main road throbbed with cars. And a mob of angry young men was looking for symbols of white rule to destroy.

Then the men spotted Biehl, blond and blue-eyed, as she drove through the township in her yellow Mazda.

“Rocks were being thrown at Amy’s car. She got out and ran, and she was stabbed right over there,” Nofemela says, pointing to a patch of grass next to a service station, now planted with a small cross.

Nofemela remembers, 15 years later, because he was part of the mob that killed Amy Biehl.

What he didn’t know then was that Biehl, a 1985 graduate of Santa Fe High School, was hardly a symbol of apartheid. She was a Fulbright scholar studying the lives of women in South Africa, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate with a plane ticket for home the next day, from an airport 10 minutes away.

Nofemela was one of four men convicted of murder for their actions that day. They spent nearly five years in prison before being granted amnesty in 1998 by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Today, Nofemela, a compact 37-year-old with a shaved head and a quick wit, is himself the father of a young girl. And, in an improbable tale of forgiveness and redemption, he and Ntobeko Peni, another of the men convicted of the murder, now work for the charity Biehl’s parents founded here after she was killed.

It’s a paradox that Linda Biehl, Amy’s mother, prefers not to examine too closely. “I don’t know how it happened,” she says, sipping coffee at a cafe near her home in Newport Beach, California. I’m not going to begin to try to analyze it.”

An engaging woman of 65 with a blond bob and a warm smile, she has grown exceptionally close to her daughter’s killers. “Easy and Ntobeko are fascinating, and I really do love them”, she says. “They have given me so much.”

Former Santa Fe residents Linda Biehl and her late husband, Peter, launched the Amy Biehl Foundation in 1994 with donations that arrived, unsolicited, from strangers moved by the news of their daughter’s death. Today, it runs after-school programs for youngsters in Guguletu and other sprawling townships and squatter camps that took root during the apartheid era on the Cape Flats, about 10 miles east of Cape Town.

“Our mission is to develop hope for children in the township and give them a future,” says Kevin Chaplin, the foundation’s managing director. “Our focus is to keep them away from violence and give them healthy activities that tap into the creative side of the brain.”

The foundation operates out of donated office space in downtown Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain, the picture-postcard city’s most recognizable landmark. Tributes to Amy Biehl and the foundation’s work paint the walls. A small television set loudly plays old news show clips of the Amy Biehl story – her brutal death, her killers’ convictions and amnesty, and the foundation’s work for newly arrived volunteers.

Chaplin, 45, left a successful career with a South African bank two years ago to oversee the charity, which runs township classes in music, dance, drama, crafts and sports. “It’s been the most satisfying time in my life,” he says.

But it is the Biehl family’s story, he says, that resonates here and abroad.

“A lot of people can’t even forgive the little things,” he says. “If the Biehls can forgive four young men for the death of their daughter, then there’s no excuse for the rest of us. So we try to teach Amy Biehl’s story that good can come out of tragedy. We’re really teaching people about the power of forgiveness.”
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Amy Biehl had been in South Africa for nearly a year on that August evening in 1993, and she had amassed a wide circle of friends, that included some of the nation’s leading human rights lawyers and politicians as well as township dwellers.

The country was nearing a historic moment. Nelson Mandela was free after 27 years in prison, and his liberation organization, the African National Congress, was poised to take control of the country in the first free elections, scheduled for April 1994. Blacks, who outnumbered whites 5 to 1, would be allowed to vote, ending four decades of white minority rule.

Biehl had been researching constitutions and bills of rights around the world for ANC leaders writing a new constitution, and she also was involved in voter education efforts. She had just completed her Fulbright paper, “Women in a Democratic South Africa: from Transition to Transformation.”

But it was a bloody, restive period. Right-wing whites were engaged in a desperate effort to retain power. Four months before Biehl’s death, a white supremacist had killed Chris Hani, the leader of the ANC’s armed wing, in the driveway of his home. Radical black groups, such as the Pan Africanist Congress, or PAC, were waging their own violent war against symbols of white rule, unconvinced the government truly intended to give up power and suspicious of the ANC’s plan for a multi-racial democracy.

Biehl was driving three friends to their homes in Guguletu that day, when a mob numbering about 80 spilled out of a PAC rally chanting the group’s battle cry: “One settler, one bullet.” In the group’s argot, settlers were white people, specifically the white Afrikaners who had settled in South Africa 350 years earlier and, in 1948, had imposed the system of racial separation known as ‘apartheid’.

Witnesses later identified three members of the mob, including Nofemela, 22 at the time, and they were charged and convicted of murder. The prosecution asked for the death penalty, but the judge sentenced them to 18 years in prison, saying he thought they had a chance to become useful citizens “despite the fact that they have shown no remorse.” A few months later, Peni, 20 at the time of the attack, was arrested, convicted and also sentenced to 18 years.

The Biehls thought the matter had been put to rest. But in 1997, four years after their daughter’s death, the killers applied for a pardon before the nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Biehls asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu, head of the commission, what they should do. “Just come and speak from your heart and talk about Amy,” he said.

At the hearing, the men admitted their role in the killing and said they believed they had to kill whites to make South Africa “ungovernable” and force the government to relinquish power.

The Biehls read from their daughter’s high-school valedictory address and spoke of her commitment to helping South Africa. But they extended an olive branch too. “We come to South Africa as Amy came, in a spirit of committed friendship,” Peter Biehl said. “And make no mistake about it, extending a hand of friendship in a society which has been systematically polarized for decades is hard work at times.”

Outside the hearing, in a hallway, the four men approached the Biehls and shook their hands. “They asked our forgiveness,” Linda Biehl recalls. “Ntobeko told us that when we forgave him, he didn’t care if he got amnesty because he had just been freed.

All four men won pardons in 1998, and a year later, the Biehls went to see Nofemela and Peni in Guguletu. “It was like an adoption,” Linda Biehl recalls. “That kind of broke the barrier. These were just children who didn’t have a chance to have a childhood.”

She’s never asked them what role they played in Amy’s death; she assumes they did little more than throw rocks, as they acknowledged during their amnesty hearings. (Another of the four men had confessed to stabbing Amy. He wound up back in prison on an unrelated charge.)

After prison, Peni had started an organization to help former anti-apartheid activists acquire skills such as bricklaying and plumbing. He persuaded the Biehl Foundation to help support his organization and, three years ago, he went to work there. He was recently promoted to program director and supervises a core staff of 16, including Nofemela.

Nofemela emerged from prison to become a community leader in Guguletu, where he battled for government money to replace shacks and bring plumbing and electricity to the township. A one-time soccer star, he now coordinates the foundation’s instruction in soccer, cricket, field hockey and other sports u some at his old school, a few dozen yards from where Biehl died.

Surrounded daily by tributes to Biehl, the two men wrestle with conflicting feelings about their role in her death. There is remorse over the loss of an innocent life, but there also is an abiding sense that their motives were pure.

“Deep down, it was very difficult for me to accept my own actions,” Peni recalls, sitting in his small office at the foundation. A baby-faced man of 35, Peni now has two daughters, ages 1 and 5.

“I felt I had contributed to a new South Africa and that what I did was done for a political reason,” Peni says. “But when I thought of Amy …” He pauses. “One has to find peace within in order to live. It’s odd, but sometimes people who offer forgiveness are so disappointed when the people they forgive cannot forgive themselves. This foundation helped me forgive myself.”

Nofemela is a charismatic quipster who is hugely popular with the youngsters. He doesn’t see his role in Biehl’s death and now her legacy as a contradiction. She was, like him, a victim of a political war.

“I will never run away from the fact that the oppression in South Africa was done by white people,” he says. “The white man was prepared to kill. I also was prepared to kill.

“But now, I’m working to spread the spirit of Amy.”

 

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LINDA BIEHL & EASY NOFEMELA

On August 25 1993, Amy Biehl, an American Fulbright scholar working in South Africa against apartheid, was beaten and stabbed to death in a black township near Cape Town. In 1998 the four youths convicted of her murder were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) after serving five years of their sentence, a decision that was supported by Amy’s parents. Easy Nofemela and Ntobeko Peni, two of the convicted men, now work for the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust in Cape Town, a charity which dedicates its work to putting up barriers against violence. Since Peter Biehl’s sudden death in 2002, Linda still regularly returns to Cape Town to carry on her work with the Foundation.

When we heard the terrible news about Amy, the whole family was devastated; but at the same time we wanted to understand the circumstances surrounding her death. Soon afterwards we left for Cape Town.

We took our strength in handling the situation directly from Amy. She was intensely involved in South African politics and even though the violence leading up to free elections had caused her death, we didn’t want to say anything negative about South Africa’s journey to democracy. Therefore, in 1998, when the four men convicted of her murder applied for amnesty, we did not oppose it. At the amnesty hearing we shook hands with the families of the perpetrators. Peter spoke for both of us, when he quoted from an editorial Amy had written for the Cape Times: the most important vehicle of reconciliation is open and honest dialogue, he said. We are here to reconcile a human life which was taken without an opportunity for dialogue. When we are finished with this process, we must move forward with linked arms. A year after Easy and Ntobeko were released from prison, an anthropologist, who was interviewing them sent us a message to say they’d like to meet with us. They were running a youth club in Guguletu Township, where Amy had been killed and wanted to show us their work.

We wanted to meet them. It wasn’t about pity or blame, but about understanding. We wanted to know what it would take to make things better. Some time later we took them out to dinner. We talked about their lives and our lives, but we didn’t ask about the past. We were all looking to the future.

I’ve grown fond of these boys. I enjoy them. They’re like my own kids. It may sound strange, but I tend to think there’s a little bit of Amy’s spirit in them. Some people think we are supporting criminals, but the Foundation that we started in her name is all about preventing crime among youth.

I have come to believe passionately in restorative justice. It s what Desmond Tutu calls ‘ubuntu’: to choose to forgive rather than demand retribution, a belief that my humanity is inextricably caught up in yours.

I can’t look at myself as a victim – it diminishes me as a person. And Easy and Ntobeko don’t see themselves as killers. They didn’t set out to kill Amy Biehl. But Easy has told me that it’s one thing to reconcile what happened as a political activist, quite another to reconcile it in your heart.

When the anthropologist suggested bringing the Biehls to meet me, my mind was racing. This was a big challenge. I’d grown up being taught never to trust a white person, and I didn’t know what to make of them. Yet I thought that if I could meet them face to face, then perhaps they might see that I was sorry. ‘Yes, bring them’, I said.

The next day Peter came to Guguletu. I was very nervous; but my first thought was to protect him, because there was violence outside. I took him inside my home and told him about the youth club. He was very interested and said Linda would love to see what me and Ntobeko were doing. The next day they came bringing us T-shirts and tickets for Robben Island. I remember Peter was very strong and Linda very shy.

Later we became involved in the Amy Biehl Foundation; because they were having trouble in Guguletu, where they ran a community baking project. Crime had become so bad in the township that drivers were getting shot at every day. We helped them by talking to the community.

Not until I met Linda and Peter Biehl, did I understand that white people are human beings too. I was a member of APLA, the armed wing of the PAC. Our slogan was one settler, one bullet. The first time I saw them on TV, I hated them. I thought this was the strategy of the whites, to come to South Africa to call for capital punishment. But they didn’t even mention wanting to hang us. I was very confused. They seemed to understand that the youth of the townships had carried this crisis, this fight for liberation on their shoulders.

At first I didn’t want to go to the TRC to give my testimony. I thought it was a sell-out; but then I read in the press that Linda and Peter had said that it was not up to them to forgive: it was up to the people in South Africa to learn to forgive each other. I decided to go and tell our story and show remorse. Amnesty wasn’t my motivation. I just wanted to ask for forgiveness. I wanted to say in front of Linda and Peter, face to face, ‘I am sorry, can you forgive me?’ I wanted to be free in my mind and body. It must have been so painful for them to lose their daughter; but by coming to South Africa, not to speak of recrimination, but to speak of the pain of our struggle, they gave me back my freedom.

I am not a killer, I have never thought of myself as such; but I will never belong to a political organisation again, because such organisations dictate your thoughts and actions. I now passionately believe that things will only change through dialogue. People are shocked I work for the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust. I tell them that I work here, because Peter and Linda came to South Africa to talk about forgiveness.

Peter was a lovely man. He kept us all happy. It was a great shock when he died. He would say to Ntobeko and me, ‘I love you guys’. ‘Are you happy, guys’? He tried to avoid things that would upset us. He was like a grandfather to us.

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Related Organisation:

Amy Biehl Foundation Trust

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posted by Connie L. Nash at 7:49 PM

1 Comments:

Chrissy said…

After reading a true story called ‘Murder by Family’, by Kent Whitaker, I’ve come to realize that forgiveness is the key to healing yourself.

The author, emerged from this harrowing ordeal to share his astonishing journey toward forgiveness and redemption.

 

 

Sourced from: http://thejourneyofhope.blogspot.com/2009/03/amy-biehl-and-improbable-tale-of.html

 

Shared by craig

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it’s an ongoing state of mind. A long and ardous journey that starts with a single large step – in spite of immense pain, the decision to forgive, a commitment to the ideal… and one that gives freedom… to the forgiven, yet also to the forgiver.”

- craig

The various books that craig “felt inspired to write” are available at: http://www.creativekiwis.com/books.html and http://www.lulu.com/craiglock



Posted in Books (inspiration), forgiveness, hope, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Truth, reconciliation and smelly feet

Originally posted on Khanya:

amahoroThe Amahoro story continued from previous post.

I broke off the previous post when I had to leave for Amahoro this morning, but continue it here. We split into groups and were asked to describe a situation in which we were in power over someone else, and someone else had power over us.

There was silence. Perhaps the members of the group found it difficult. I could think of two examples quite easily, so I kicked off. I’ll describe them fairly fully, because they are relevant to what followed.

I had been in power over someone else by being an employer. Well, sort of. A woman comes to our house once a week to help with cleaning, washing and ironing. A charwoman cum laundress. I don’t employ her, my wife does, but my wife is seldom home when she’s here, so I give her her pay at the end of…

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THE DAWN OF HOPE

Originally posted on Craig's Books:

MY TRAITOR’S HEART BOOK THREE

THE STRANGE LIVES OF TRUE WHITE AFRICANS: Neil and Creina Alcock

The final chapters of this compelling and passionate book cover the lives of on Neil and Creina Alcock, who lived among the Zulu.  Theirs is a gripping story that embodies the whole book — but so do most of the stories . The book sobers; it stuns; it reminds one of what lies deep in the heart of the heart throughout the world: fear of the other, white fear of black and black fear of white. Probably no country on planet earth dramatizes that story more than South Africa.

Yet still a miracle that apartheid could be dismantled without even more bloodshed…

from epic injustice to epic reconciliation!

“Trust can never be a fortress, a safe enclosure against life. Trusting is dangerous. But without trust there is no hope for love, and…

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The Politics of Love (from a book ‘The Passing Summer’ by Michael Cassidy)

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DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH: THE PALESTINIAN MARTIN LUTHER KING

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AN “INTERVIEW” WITH JESUS ON THE STATE OF THE WORLD TODAY

Originally posted on WHO IS THE "REAL, THE TRUE, THE LIVING" JESUS?:

http://sharefaith.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/an-interview-with-jesus-on-the-state-of-the-world-today/

the-light-of-the-universe (from vineandbranchworldministries.com)

An “Interview” with Jesus on the State of the World… Today

“MY CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD” through Jesus

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The Race to Truth

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“Here was a light behind the despair, beyond the darkness. At first a flicker of an ember, just a tiny pin-prick of dawning possibilities”

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