Fetzer Institute to Host Global Gathering in Assisi, Italy

September 12, 2012

Event will showcase power of love and forgiveness

Kalamazoo, Mich.—What compels a hate crime survivor to reconcile with his tormentor? Can gaming technology in the hands of young people help reverse generations of division between Palestinians and Israelis? Bringing together 500 thought leaders from around the world, the Fetzer Institute’s September 19-23 gathering in Assisi, Italy, will address these and other compelling questions related to the power of love and forgiveness.

“Our conference will explore what role love and forgiveness can play in transforming the world,” said Institute President and CEO Lawrence E. Sullivan. “Taking love to mean, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said when he received the Nobel Prize, ‘that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.’”

The Institute will invite others worldwide to join in demonstrating what its founder John Fetzer called “the most powerful force in the world,” love.

“Fetzer's work helps bring the transformative power of love and forgiveness into the center of individual and collective lives," continued Sullivan. "Our global gathering will be the foremost conference yet in bringing together top scientists and professionals with unique examples of love and forgiveness to learn how underlying principles can be taught to others.”

Examples include community leaders using forgiveness to heal wounds in war-torn Uganda and grassroots activists organizing street-smart poetry slams to help youths bridge racial divisions in inner-city Chicago. Experts will share their insights on love and forgiveness at work in a wide range of disciplines, spanning arts; design; engineering; social sciences; governing; labor, trades and crafts; law; business; sports and embodied spiritual practices; humanities; non-government organizations; education; health; information and communications; natural sciences; and world religions and spiritualities.

Said Sullivan, “to gather in Assisi, a medieval city that still treasures the ideals of love and forgiveness that were manifest in the lives of Saints Francis and Clare some 800 years ago helps us to expand the short-term rhythms that normally hold us captive, and position our life, our work, and our mission within a broader perspective.”

The event will also feature art exhibitions open to the public at the Palazzo del Monte Frumentario and the Piazza del Comune of Assisi. Selected works include "Loving Dedication: Visions of Vishnu” from the Newark Museum and works of art by Dimitris Alithinos and Denise Milan. A concert entitled “Love and Forgiveness” featuring Andrea Bocelli, Dionne Warwick, Pretty Yende, and others will highlight the evening of September 22.

The Fetzer Institute is a private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Established by broadcast pioneer John E. Fetzer (1901-1991), the Institute works with an international team of advisors to create programs that foster awareness of the power that love and forgiveness can have in our world.