I am watching Beyond Right & Wrong for the 14th time. As it ends, tears are falling down my cheeks and my heart is filled with emotion. I am about to speak on a panel. However before I am able to talk, I have to take some deep breaths. In each story, I experience not only the pain of the human family but also the bravery and courage of humanity taking steps to heal and recover.
I am very emotionally and physically involved with the film, which features both my own story and the stories of people I am honored to have as friends. I reflect back to when I first met Patrick Magee at the home of my inspirational friend Anne Gallagher in Dublin, 14 years ago. Her peace work 'Seeds of Hope' lives on with the many people she touched. She facilitated our first meeting and was a good friend from 1985 until her tragic death last year. 'Seeds of Hope' lives on with the many people she touched. Back in 2000, I never dreamt my personal need to meet Patrick would lead us to the position depicted in a film that would reach a global audience. Or that when, two days after I lost my Dad and made a commitment to bring something positive out of the darkness of the bomb, I would be where I am today. Yet by taking steps, some baby steps, some giant strides, I am now working with Patrick around the world to demonstrate empathy and the importance of dialogue.
Each time I watch my part in Beyond Right & Wrong, I am reminded of the local reporter who seemed to want to criticize us several times. In the film, a little part of his questioning is shown. While I see him as one of the hardest audience members I have had, I am sure he speaks for many. I know that working to demonstrate the humanity of Patrick Magee after he killed my dad and others is difficult, unusual and challenging for many people. My need to see Patrick as a human being after he planted the bomb can challenge me sometimes, too. Yet I know for our children to grow in peace and safety risks must be taken and boldness has to be cultivated. I now see Patrick as my friend, both caring about him and being infinitely grateful for his engagement with me. I am being transformed, learning about my violence and non-violence, understanding my revenge response whilst choosing a non-blame response. I see the importance in recognizing the humanity of all whilst working to develop conflict prevention and conflict transformation.
Last year my charity 'Building Bridges for Peace' secured funding which financed a visit to Israel and Palestine. Patrick and I spent time with Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin, who also appear in the film; we also spoke with 'Combatants for Peace' as well as 'Parents Circle Family Forum.' Since I regard Robi and Basaam as two of my most treasured, inspirational friends, whose amazing example strengthens my work, meeting them in their land was wonderful. I recently met another very special person, Rami Elhanan when he was in London with his film he made with Bassam. Having visited Rwanda the year before, I know the extraordinary Jean-Baptiste Ntakirutimana very well. I know Marina Cantacuzino, founder of the Forgiveness Project, who has enabled me to speak in many places and helped to get my message out. I am privileged to also have known Richard Moore since 2000 and we have shared a platform together. Being able to share in his laughter and joy touches me deeply.
One of the reasons I love this film is the depiction, not only of my incredible global family, but also of the truth that we now live in a time when humanity heals together. Gone are the days when the needs of our tribe, our community and our country were all that mattered. Now we know we are all connected; if you are suffering then I will work with you to give support and hope. To me betrayal now means focusing exclusively on my comfort while ignoring the plight of others far away. I hold the human family in my heart.
Nothing we do can bring back our loved ones. We can cooperate to transform our pain into working for peace and reconciliation, assured of the humanity in the 'other.' By doing so we can do more than inspire hope, we can become confident in the knowledge we are change makers. This film amplifies our message showing what is not only possible but already happening around the world. We all have the potential to be change makers, helping end the cycle of violence and revenge. We must come together to see the humanity of all, to build peace and reconciliation.
Visit here to learn more about Building Bridges for Peace. Watch Jo Berry's TEDxExeter Talk "Disarming With Empathy" here:
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Beyond Right & Wrong in conjunction with the Beyond Right & Wrong One Million Viewer campaign, an effort to garner one million unique online views for Beyond Right & Wrong and, thanks to generous donations from Operation Kids Foundation and Share the Mic, support charities at the same time. Find out more about the Beyond Right & Wrong One Million Viewer campaign here. Read all posts in the series here.