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Who is a Hero?

By Jill Tellez 

An excerpt from our readings:

"If I defeat you, I win and you lose. But in truth, I also lose, because by diminishing you, I diminish myself. But if, in a moment of truth, I forgive you and you forgive me, then forgiveness leads to reconciliation. Reconciliation leads to friendship, And if friendship, instead of fighting one another, we can fight together the problems we share: poverty, hunger, starvation, disease, violence, injustice, and all the other injuries that still scar the face of our world. You gain, I gain, and all those with whom we are associated gain as well. We gain economically, politically, but above all spiritually. My world has become bigger because it now includes you. Who is a hero? One who turns an enemy into a friend. "

Jonathan Sacks, Author. After Terror: Promoting Dialogues among Civilizations (2005)

Today we were witness to seeing how these words came alive.  We had the honor to hear from two former combatants in Northern Ireland:  one a Loyalist who joined the UDA, the largest paramilitary group, at the age of 15; and one a Nationalist who, at 16, was arrested, tortured and served years in prison for a murder he did not commit.  These two men told their stories of what life was like during The Troubles and how they came to find their moment of truth in ending the violence and being part of finding a way to live in peace.  Their ability to respect and have friendship for each other in spite of their long-held beliefs and their willingness to share their stories as part of the peace process took incredible courage.  They are two of the heroes that are leading the way to a peaceful Derry and Northern Ireland.  

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