Michael Henderson is the first to admit that his work has no academic basis. Rather he prefers to ‘tell stories’. The difference though is that his stories are based on hands-on experience of real life men and women working to build bridges between people of differing colours, cultures and languages.
mh 5.jpgSo on the 17th of August as part of The Cordoba Seminar series in the impressive settings of St Ethelburgas Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, he shared his stories ‘as a privilege of highlighting the readiness of men and women to forgive and ask for forgiveness’.
mh 3.jpgFrom Nigeria, to Lebanon, to Israel, India and Northern Ireland, Michael criss crossed the countries sharing the stories of individuals taking responsibility to move beyond victimhood, to create safe spaces in the purposes of forging alliances. In his words, Michael says ‘ The building of relationships of trust is a priority and now more than ever, we need reconciliation and forgiveness’.
Michael highlights 6 key steps which he has found is essential in the process of reconciliation and forgiveness and which he has found are backed up by his stories:
The concept of ‘a Clash or an Alliance?’
The need to ‘Reach out to the “Other”’
The need to ‘Move beyond Victimhood’
The need to ‘take Responsibility’
The concept of ‘Creating a Safe Space’
The need to ‘Acknowledge the Past’
mh 1.jpgThese are not mutually exclusive according to Michael but are systematic milestones that need to be achieved if true reconciliation is the end goal.
During the Holy Month of Ramadan, where forgiveness and mercy from two key components, Michael’s speech was even more poignant, a factor reiterated by the chair of the event, Anas Altikriti, CEO of The Cordoba Foundation
As he concluded his speech Michael quotes Rajmohan Ghandi (the grandson of Mhatama Ghandi) who says that the ‘call for reconciliation is in the end a call for sanity’.