International Peace Day – Here’s to Compassion, Empathy and Forgiveness

Today is UN International Peace Day.

I first heard about Peace Day at a inspiring talk by founder Jeremy Gilley in 2010. It’s such a simple idea – let’s have a day of international ceasefire and nonviolence.  As a healer and deep thinker, I’ve often wondered whether sustainable peace is truly possible. One day of peace is a huge step forward but for those of us living outside war zones, are we actually living in peace? And if not, what does living in peace actually look like?

Well, I don’t think we are truly living in peace yet, but I am optimistic that we can and we will achieve real peace.  I also strongly believe that healing modalities (and particularly ThetaHealing) have a vital role to play in creating true, sustainable peace.  Learning to truly listen to people and see underneath unloving behaviour to the pain and suffering causing it – these are important shifts humanity needs to create a truly peaceful world.

The story of Jo Berry and Pat Magee illustrates this beautifully.  A few years ago,  I went to a talk at Winchester University by Jo Berry and Pat Magee and it touched me deeply.  Jo Berry’s father was killed in the IRA Brighton bombing and Pat Magee was the bomber.  They now work together to teach people how to heal deep-seated problems through dialogue.

While Pat Magee admits that violence is unacceptable and regrets his action, he has useful insights on what led him to do such an awful thing.  He raises the important point that people who feel they have no voice are prone to resorting to any means possible to be heard.  And Jo Berry is an incredible example of the power of listening for the roots of violence.  This quote by former hostage Terry Waite from their website sums up the power of the work they do and the power of empathy and seeing each others’ humanity:

To be a subject of a grievous wrong is always wounding and painful and can frequently provoke anger.

However, anger, if allowed to fester is like a cancer of the soul. It does more harm to those who hold it than against those whom it is held.

Jo Berry knows from personal experience what it is to have to face deep suffering as her father was blown up in a IRA bomb. She has let go of personal need for revenge and empathised with Patrick Magee, the man responsible for planting the bomb.

To hear her speak alongside the one who killed her father is a living demonstration of the transforming power of reconciliation when two people who have been on different sides truly listen and can see each other’s humanity, an example this sad world so desperately need.
Terry Waite CBE – humanitarian and former hostage

Their website is available here:

But it’s not just outward violence that we need to tackle.  Too many feel unseen and insignificant and direct their anger inwards.  People who work with young people are all too aware of how much more common self harm and depression have become in recent years.

For many years, I made it my goal to cultivate compassion and understanding for those suffering.  I’m extremely grateful to have gained deep insights into this through my work with troubled young people.  Some had long criminal records, some had difficulty attending college and keeping up with their work, some would blurt out really awful words, but often when you looked a bit deeper and knew their backgrounds, it was understandable why they were so desperate to be seen.

Collectively, we are facing many problems but I am optimistic about our chances.  Healing modalities are becoming more and more widely accepted and practiced and of course, the work of people such as Jo Berry and Pat Magee show us that compassion, empathy and forgiveness can cause great shifts.

It’s not easy to look below the surface and look for the underlying causes, but more and more people are understanding the need to be conscious of what’s driving our behaviour and to look beyond appearances to the inner conflicts that can skew behaviour.

So I hope Peace Day 2015 has been a day of peace for you and I hope that you have plenty of people in your life who really see you ♡