The so-called “bubble” of isolation might be shrinking as The Forgiveness Project makes a stop on the River Campus. The Project’s international exhibit, “The F-Word: Images of Forgiveness,” opens viewers’ eyes up to tragedies and triumphs in the face of adversity all over the world.
Journalist Marina Cantacuzino, creator of “The F-Word,” explains the intent of the exhibit: “Amid the noisy ‘shock and awe’ headlines and the reports of hostility and resentment, there exist quieter stories of forgiveness, gentler tales of reconciliation.”
The exhibit presents its message through photographs and stories of people who have faced heart-wrenching violence and hatred in troubled areas around the world. The stories are not ones of defeat, anger or despair, but survival and triumph; their key to surviving is each victim’s unexpected ability to understand his attackers, overcome the fear and hatred and forgive them.
Accompanying the photos of each person, taken by Brian Moody, are the words of each survivor, which resonate with their own individual voice. The stories are all true, powerful and revealing about another area and conflict in the world.
A good portion of the exhibit tells the stories of people in areas of conflict, such as Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Israel, Chechnya and South Africa, where people face religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, female mutilation, rape and murder on a regular basis.
Just as the tragedies of each person are unique, so are the ways in which each person learns to move forward through forgiveness. Through the eyes of each individual, forgiveness takes on a new meaning, form and voice.
There are also stories of atrocities committed – and forgiveness imparted – right here in the United States. The accounts include victims of domestic violence, the families of people who were murdered and ministers and volunteers who were imprisoned, mutilated and attacked for helping in conflict areas. There are also the stories of people who have lost loved ones in 9/11 and Columbine.
Though these atrocities may sound all too familiar and commonplace, the purpose of the exhibit is not to “shock and awe,” the way news stories might want to. These personal accounts have an inspiring effect, allowing the positive message of strength to surface in each story.
The College Diversity Roundtable is sponsoring this unique showcase, which has been featured in over 200 venues in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is currently on display in the Interfaith Chapel’s entrance.
The exhibit, like its message, is an understated one; inconspicuously located at the entrance to the Interfaith Chapel, it is easy to pass by. Yet stepping outside of the normal “bubble” life to look at the exhibit, it can be moving, powerful and thought provoking.
For more on The Forgiveness Project, visit http://www.theforgivenessproject.com.
Ryan is a member of the class of 2009.