Forgiveness and Health

A screening of Fambul Tok, a story of health and healing through forgiveness, is Sunday at the Capitol Theatre.

This Sunday afternoon I’ll be going to see multiple-award winning documentary  (Family Talk) at the  in downtown Clearwater.

The movie shows an unprecedented grass-roots reconciliation program in Sierra Leone that brings together perpetrators and victims of that West African country’s brutal 11-year civil war, for face-to-face truth-telling and forgiveness.

The film explores the depths of a cultural belief that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals – and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities. I’ve been waiting for a long time to see Fambul Tok and join in a discussion with the producer after the showing. I’m excited!

It turns out that Sierra Leoneans are not the only ones who are discovering the healing power of forgiveness.

Fred Luskin is a senior consultant in health promotion at Stanford University, where he holds a PhD in counseling and health psychology, and is the co-founder and director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. He was recently profiled on Oprah’s website in an article titled, “How to Forgive Anyone---and Why Your Health Depends on It."

The article describes Luskin as “a pioneer in the burgeoning forgiveness field," which is accumulating study after study showing that forgiveness has a tendency to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and anger, and heal depression. Luskin’s work provides practical steps for those who may be ready to forgive but don’t know how.

Religious teachings, perhaps especially Christianity, have always stressed that forgiveness is the morally correct - and even healthy - thing to do. But confirmation from the medical research community about the physical effects of forgiveness is relatively new. This offers further proof that the old, worn out wall between religion and science continues to crumble and that greater freedom and health for everyone will be the result.

What: Fambul Tok

When: 2 p.m. Sunday (April 15)

Where: , 405 Cleveland St

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