Bonnie S. Mansdorf, created The Foundation for A Healing Among Nations to allow people of diverse cultures, faiths and nations the opportunity to consciously heal and transform the patterns of suffering to joy and awakening through the power of love. Mansdorf became an interviewer in 1995 for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. Developed after Spielberg made his groundbreaking movie, Schindler’s List, the Shoah project have videotaped and archived the histories of over 50,000 Holocaust survivors, gypsies and individuals of the WWII resistance.
Witnessing the suffering of diverse peoples and nations, Ms. Mansdorf witnessed the healing transformation that the videotaped interview process afforded survivors. While recounting the horrors, many survivors were able to express forgiveness and compassion at the closure of their story journey; portraying courage, endurance and an inclusive expression of love as a stated vision to distribute for the welfare of all human beings.
From this experience FAHAN decided it was necessary to develop a spiritually based peace fellowship that would join collaboratively on missions of peace and document the voices of truth and goodness in other nations of great unrest. Partners with over fifty member organizations such as: The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, The BrahmaKumaris, Unity and Diversity World Council and more offer expertise in a specific field. When a peace mission is necessary these members are identified for their expertise and a comprehensive program is developed within weeks that can efficiently bring the peace team to it’s destination and be of service. Art, music, theater is used as often as possible in all programs.
The programs of Education as Healing Intervention were then developed as an educational outreach to communities across America in order to ignite the heart and soul of our own people and our Spiritual American Destiny. FAHAN continues to create forums and community circles with leaders and lay persons, children and elders to empower leadership, develop citizen diplomats and promote a vital democratic process.
When Mansdorf traveled and met with leaders of diverse cultural groups such as: The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hahn, Mrs. Rosa Parks, Arun Gandhi and Chief Arvol Looking Horse. In many of these meetings the words “No one understands what we went through, no one knows this pain” were spoken again and again. The need to be heard and understood is great. The willingness to resolve the past and forgive will only occur when people feel they are truly understood and listened to.
Martin Luther King said that violence is the language of the unheard. While practitioners of ‘Compassionate Listening” share that ‘compassionate listening’ is healing to the listeners and to those who tell their stories.
These stories rise up from the depths of our history, carrying with it the voices of our collective ancestors. These stories begin with one person and a conscious witness, then to another and to another. The stories must come together in all diverse communities of the world to complete the tapestry of the Greater Story. The Greater Story is where unfailing wisdom, understanding and truth synthesize all the little voices of the lands in consciousness which is Love. Can it be that peace begins so quietly?
“Here I am- this is me in my nakedness, with my wounds, my secret grief, my despair, my betrayal, my pain, which I can’t express, my terror, my abandonment. Oh, listen to me for a day, an hour, a moment, lest I expire in my terrible wilderness, my lonely silence. Oh, God, is there no one to listen.” Seneca, Kosovo survivor
The power of the human spirit instructs the highest potential of human nature to rise and persevere under adversity, adjusting the idea of “victim”.
Maslow said that our most basic needs are for food, clothing and shelter. We have found that the need to tell one’s story, to be heard, to be respected during a time of great shame at the hands of war, trauma and inequities is equal, if not a greater need.
We have witnessed Tibetans who would rather die than live without spiritual freedom. Food was the least of their want, shelter was the least of their want, clothing was the least of their want. The voice of freedom, the heart of liberation to practice their spiritual truth was the most essential need.
Primo Levi, the award winning author of ‘Survival in Auschwitz states,” The need to tell our story to ‘the rest’, to make ‘the rest’ participate in it, had taken on for us, before our liberation and after, the character of an immediate and violent impulse, to the point of competing with our other elementary needs. This is first and foremost an interior liberation.”
Some of the participating cultural communities are:
Japanese encampment survivors
“This is the right time for peace to reign in the heart of every man and woman as they learn
to accept and forgive each other in love.” Sr. Nirmala