In this very moving installment of Global Spirit, host Phil Cousineau talks with three guests about the challenges of forgiveness in a society where revenge and payback are so predominant. A 1988 Gallup Poll found that 94 percent of people asked said it was important to forgive but 85 percent said that they needed some outside help to do it. Although doctors, therapists, and others have added to our fund of knowledge about forgiveness, it is the world's religions and wisdom traditions which offer the best spiritual guidance on this difficult practice.

Edward Tick, Founding Director and Senior Clinician of Soldier's Heart, which organizes veterans' return programs, and Kate Dahlstedt, co-director of the same organization, talk with Cousineau and show excerpts of a film about the return of five very traumatized Vietnam veterans to the country where they lost their souls. This program is for soldiers burdened by grief and guilt over their actions during the war who are now seeking forgiveness. Tick and Dahlstedt make a good case for their program which includes rituals, prayers for peace in a Buddhist temple, and visits with Vietnamese people who were their enemies long ago.

Also featured on "Forgiveness and Healing" is Azim Noordin Khamisa who talks about his activism following the shooting death of his 20-year-old son by Tony Hicks, a 14 year old trying to prove himself to members of a gang. Khamisa has teamed up with Tony's grandfather and set up a foundation to proclaim to youth around the world the viability of forgiveness and the failure of revenge and violence to heal the soul.

To Continue This Journey:

  • Check out the site for the Soldier's Heart to read about Veterans' Return Retreats and other programs
  • Protestant minister and writer Frederick Buechner has written: "When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you're spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride. For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each other's presence." The next time you are beaten down or humiliated by someone, try compassion and reconciliation rather than revenge. Keep track of your feelings, especially the sweet release of letting go of the past.