Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Results of My 9-11 Poll re Forgiveness

Thanks to everyone who voted, 16 votes in all!
The poll is still open, but the results so far are as follows:

Question: Would you support a "Forgiveness" Garden or other zone somewhere near Ground Zero in NYC?

75% voted Yes, "I would support a Forgiveness Space or Garden at Ground Zero in NYC"

12% voted No, "I would not want a Forgiveness Garden or Marker at Ground Zero"

12% voted "I do not know, or do not like the question"

Let me make a few brief observations, and then open the post up for any and all comments. First, these results are markedly different from a similar poll of the general public, where very few Americans were in any way interested in "forgiveness" in conjuction with 9-11 and the rebuilding project to take place in NYC. Is that because the audience taking my poll has a more profound or more theological understanding of the power of forgiveness?

Second, these results seem to signal an attitude rather different from the prayer of Rabbi Gellman posted by Newsweek today, in which he emphasizes that "America would do well to remember who its real enemies are." I imagine that those who are voting in my poll for "forgiveness" would ask Rabbi Gellman whether he shouldn't be talking not only about uniting against enemies but also loving enemies, albeit in some sort of responsible, constructive, transformative way.

Third, for myself, I would hope that forgiveness in this context would have to be conceived of as specifically "tough" and "transformative." It can't just be a selfish forgiveness, aimed primarily at self-healing and moving on. That kind of forgiveness cannot protect the living from the ongoing threat of terrorism...



Blogger Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


It depends on what forgivness means in this context. As you note in your last paragraph if it is tough and transformative then I think many will be on board with it. I think it is possible to forgive and yet not forget. Hate can kill someone just as dead as a knife to the heart. Yet to forgive for the sake of forgiving is not productive - IMHO.

Wed Sep 13, 01:28:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Will said...

There's an interesting piece on nonviolence and terrorism by David Cortright at:


Thu Sep 14, 09:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Joe and Will, thanks so much for these comments.
Will, thanks for the link to the Cortright piece, which I just checked out. Here is a sample quote for those who are interested:
"A nonviolent strategy seeks to reduce the appeal of militants’ extremist methods by addressing legitimate grievances and providing channels of political engagement for those who sympathize with the declared political aims. A two-step response is essential: determined law enforcement pressure against terrorist criminals, and active engagement with affected communities to resolve underlying injustices."

Thu Sep 14, 12:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Great source! Thanks, Will.

Fri Sep 15, 10:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Mary said...

Many in the 9/11 community are in favor of the concept of forgiveness as evidenced by the amazing forgivneness and reconciliation efforts sponsored the week of 9/11 by groups such as the WTC Survivors Network and the Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. However, we do not support the actions of a particular nonprofit who wishes to construct a meditative forgiveness garden at or near Ground Zero, nor do we wish to attend secular forgiveness workshops that are offered by an organization that claims it's interfaith in nature. However, anyone who objects to this nonprofit is dismissed with comments such as "Many people not ready to forgive."

Also, given the number of nefarious nonpprofits out there and the plethora of post 9/11 profiteers, suffice to say we're skeptical when someone tries to market themselves as a "post 9/11 forgiveness expert" available for speaking engagements.

Thu Oct 05, 11:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Wow. Thanks for your thoughts, Mary. ---SLC

Fri Oct 06, 07:33:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Judith said...

Only recently have I heard of the possibility of a Forgiveness Garden at Ground Zero. I very much support that idea which I hope becomes a reality. We need to forgive; we need to do this for ourselves. Forgiveness does not disregard punishment for wrong doing. Forgiveness allows us to move on. It allows us to work with multi cultures, multi religions and multi nations without arrogance and retaliation. I heartily support a Garden of Forgiveness at Ground Zero.--Judith R. Schiavo

Thu May 08, 08:12:00 AM GMT-5  

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