Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace

 

Forgiveness

 

Garden of Forgiveness Film
Guerrand-Hermes Foundation believes that forgiveness is a key element in peacebuilding, especially in post-conflict countries. Forgiveness is complex and can be perceived in many different ways. The Garden of Forgiveness is conceived based on an understanding that forgiveness is an inner journey. It allows the individuals to address our own cycle of fear, and create new momentum of reconciliation and transformation. Thus the Garden of Forgiveness is envisioned to be a place for calm reflection, understanding, healing, and expression of common humanity.
This film here captured conversations between Alexandra Asseily, the Founder of the Garden of Forgiveness, Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa of Nigeria on the notion of forgiveness during their visit to the site designated for the Garden.
 

 


 
Alexandra Asseily, one of the GHFP's trustees, has made an important contribution to the understanding of the root causes of mass atrocities and the importance of forgiveness in breaking the cycle of violence. Alexandra's work is based on her many years of reflection on the individual's responsibility in the perpetuation of violence. This has led to a widely accepted account of the significance of ancestral influences and "embodied memory" across generations in the history of conflict and trauma, where individuals can become receivers of inherited patterns from conflict rooted before our time.
Alexandra has worked since 1998 on the ideas presented in a 'Vision for the Garden of Forgiveness' and looks forward to the completion of the work in good time. The garden at Hadiqat-as-Samah will become a place to be used and appreciated as an ancient communal space for quiet contemplation, healing and forgiveness.
 
 
The Garden of Forgiveness Beirut is envisioned as a place of calm reflection, sheltered from the bustle of the city and expressing themes of understanding, forgiveness and unity. Nestled between mosques and churches, and integrating archaeological remains of surviving city layers, Hadiqat-As-Samah will offer unique insights into earlier civilizations, demonstrating a shared ancestry that predates the recent conflict. By displaying these layers of civilizations, the garden will "use foundations of the past to build foundations for the future." In its proximity to the wartime Green Line that divided the city and became the focus of conflict, the Garden of Forgiveness is to provide a meeting point where individuals can reflect on their collective memory and nurture a renewed sense of common identity. Alexandra wrote a Design Brief for the Garden at Hadiqat-As-Samah.
 
In March 2000 the international competition for the design of the garden was won by 'Gustafson Porter', who have also created many other prestigious international projects. The master plan for the site was approved by the Council of Ministers in June 2001. Plans of The Garden of Forgiveness were shown at the Van Alen Institute in New York in 2002 in their 'Renewing, Rebuilding, Remembering' exhibition. The Garden of Forgiveness was also featured in the exhibition 'Groundswell - Constructing the Contemporary Landscape' at the MoMA, New York, 22nd February to 16 May, 2005.
 
Construction of the Beirut Garden of Forgiveness started in September 2003. However, work on public spaces in central Beirut has been halted since July 2006 due to an Israeli air attack. Nevertheless the site has been visited by many international groups and individuals who accord their respects by reflecting and praying there for forgiveness and peace.There are now a number of other projects around the world for Gardens of Forgiveness, and many which propose forgiveness as a response within a range of contexts. The Garden of Forgiveness is featured in the film 'The Power of Forgiveness'
 
For a theoretical background on this, please refer to her paper Breaking the Cycles of Violence and her article 'stories to find the storyteller', or within the book edition entitled 'Exploring Selfhood'.