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Healing collective trauma, California, March 21, 2014


Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University in Malibu, California,

One of our main events in Los Angeles was attending: A Conversation about Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Lessons from South Africa, which was hosted by the Straus Institute, Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. The main purpose of the Conversation was to create space for delegates to talk about the opportunities and challenges for those seeking to promote forgiveness and reconciliation for individuals and communities by reflecting on lessons from South Africa’s transition from Apartheid to a democratic government. The Institute invited well known people like Father Michael Lapsley; Ambassador Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States; John Allen, Desmond Tutu’s biographer and former Press officer for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Documentary Filmmaker Karen Hayes who followed Archbishop Desmond Tutu for 14 years and made a film called The Foolishness of God: My forgiveness Journey with Desmond Tutu; and Michael and Carole Wilson, documentary filmmakers who made Reconciliation: Mandela’s Miracle film.

The Conversation took a panelist style where the above mentioned experts sat on a platform in front and Professor Thomas Stipanowich chaired the panel discussions. The 2 above mentioned films were screened which facilitated the conversation. While the Wilsons, Karen and John talked more about South Africa, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and Archbishop Tutu (on the media side), Fr Michael and Ambassador Rasool dug deep into the political vein of South Africa then, now and hereafter. Each one of the panelists had vast experiences about the transition and Fr Michael talked about the signs showing how deeply traumatised South Africans are and the role of the Institute for Healing of Memories to create safe space where those who did not have opportunity, like him to testify during the TRC, can talk about their experiences. Ambassador Rasool called these signs of a traumatised nation “landmines” which keep exploding every now and then in South Africa. The Conversation took the whole day.

The conversation exposed potholes on the road to the reconstruction of the nations and human soul that have been exposed to or destroyed by trauma and inter-generational trauma in the case of South Africa, and the United States.

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