Growing Learnings From the Garden of Forgiveness

  • Harvesting from the Garden of Forgiveness Participants in a recent exercise learned forgiveness and reconciliation as techniques to overcome Lebanon's long history of violence and strife. Image Credit: Alexandra Asseily

  • Harvesting from the Garden of Forgiveness Participants in a recent exercise learned forgiveness and reconciliation as techniques to overcome Lebanon's long history of violence and strife. Image Credit: Alexandra Asseily

  • Harvesting from the Garden of Forgiveness Participants in a recent exercise learned forgiveness and reconciliation as techniques to overcome Lebanon's long history of violence and strife. Image Credit: Alexandra Asseily

  • Harvesting from the Garden of Forgiveness Participants in a recent exercise learned forgiveness and reconciliation as techniques to overcome Lebanon's long history of violence and strife. Image Credit: Alexandra Asseily

  • Harvesting from the Garden of Forgiveness Beirut's Garden of Forgiveness, an inspiration in work to overcome Lebanon's long history of violence and strife. Image Credit: Flickr.com/Jose Ignacio Gallego Santos

Growing Learnings From the Garden of Forgiveness

A place of calm reflection and a conference dedicated to overcoming pain and conflict are the sources of energy for a new initiative aimed at healing centuries-old wounds in Lebanese culture.

The Fetzer Institute is working with the Center for Lebanese Study (CLS) at Oxford Univeristy to explore the socio-psychological and deeper roots of violence in present-day Lebanon and identify new approaches to reconciliation and dialogue. As a result, it will seek to help Lebanese communities examine and heal old and ancient grievances, conscious and unconscious, both personal and collective.

The prism for this reflection includes both a place and an event. The Garden of Forgiveness Beirut (Hadiqat As-Samah) was created in 1997 as a place of calm reflection, sheltered from the bustle of the city and expressing themes of understanding, forgiveness and unity.

The physical garden, though incomplete due to security issues, is located in downtown Beirut. Nestled between three mosques and three churches, the site integrates archaeological remains of surviving city layers, including Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. In this way Hadiqat As-Samah offers unique insights into earlier civilizations, and demonstrates a shared ancestry that predates the recent conflicts. 

The event is the ESPERE (HOPE) HWH training workshops, drawing on the success of the International Conference on 'Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the Roots of Violence' held in Nov 2011in the ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon. 

In addition, follow-up workshops are being conducted, curricula developed and a DVD created to spread the learnings from the conference and related activities.

The project’s key objectives are to raise awareness about the need to resolve historical grievances as a step towards social harmony in Lebanon, to help people learn more about the diverse approaches to addressing the roots of conflict and cycles of violence in our society and to “train the trainers” to create a process that will implement the key insights and methods from the Conference through a series of nationwide projects.

This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on World Religions and Spiritualities.