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I hope you will recognize why I have adopted the description I was given by an American newspaper: an optimistic realist. Through many years and in many lands I have met men and women who have taken on to use their lives to set right wrongs they encountered starting with themselves. It has been my privilege to tell their stories. You may be encouraged by their experiences and pick up ideas and approaches which you can make use of. You might perhaps even like to buy some books! Let me recommend the FORGIVENESS pages which contain stories related to this subject and its effect in the world. At Reaching out to the other you will find the introduction which I wrote for a French book which refers to what happened in our family that set us off on this journey. The evidence shows that forgiveness is not just a religious or personal matter but a vital ingredient in sound national and international life.
A film about the amazing life of Eric Lomax has just opened with Colin Firth playing the part of this World War II prisoner of the Japanese who turned a hated enemy into a friend. Lomax died in 2012 at the age of 93 and was a soldier who, the Daily Telegraph wrote, made 'the choice of reconciliation over retribution'. His experience indicates that there may be a time for forgiveness that sometimes cannot and maybe should not be rushed. In his award-winning book, The Railway Man, Lomax describes what happened when he was taken prisoner in Singapore. As a member of the Royal Corps of Signals, he had helped build an illicit radio, whose discovery brought on two years of torture and starvation, and then after the war many years of distress. It took him 50 years to reach the point that he could forgive. I tell the Lomax story in Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate. Read more >>
I am not by nature a great fan of what I believe is called Installation art. But the dramatic and sensitive field of poppies in the Tower of London moat opened my mind to its potential power for good. Millions who came to see the poppies and the millions more who shared the experience through the media coverage worldwide will have been moved. To an extraordinary extent nearly a million handcrafted ceramic images have managed to personalize for us an almost incomprehensible historic event.
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My brother Gerald, 6, and I, 8, were evacuated to the US in World War II. Like several thousand other British boys and girls we were looked after by American families. I wrote See You After the Duration and many articles about those wartime experiences and am still in touch with the family and schools that took us in. I have also participated in the gathering of the oral history of that period. In this site you can read about this memorable but little known aspect of World War II that changed our lives and gave us a great sense of gratitude to the USA. See Evacuation.