Sunday, March 18, 2012


I have thought about forgiveness a lot lately. As a victim-offender mediator it is very important question and I talk a lot about it with my mediator friends. But we talk about situation, where the one who has been hurt/violated/injured forgives to one who have hurt her/him. But many times it would be as important to forgive yourself too.

I have met many victims, who have a hard time to forgive themselves. "Why didn't I defend myself? Why didn't I leave? Why didn't I act differently, so that I wouldn't have irritated him/her?" Unfortunately we who want to help, sometimes add the self-blame: "You should leave her/him? Why didn't you hit back?"

What if our inability to forgive ourselves, can turn to hate, bitterness and demand of revenge? What if we really can forgive others after we have forgiven ourselves? We can't change the past incidents, but we can learn from them. Life will throw us to situations, where we don't know what to do and where we feel ourselves helpless. We try to survive the best way we know, with abilities and tools we have in that particular moment.

So what if we change the questions we ask ourselves after different kind of crisis. Did I have any other option to act differently? Would it changed anything? Have I learned something? What have I learned? Have I forgiven myself?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"We didn't know, it was that bad"

This week we have again talked about bullying at school in Finland. We have been shown a story of Elisa, 15 year old girl, who was brutally bullied. In fact Elisa was threatened, assaulted, she experienced such violence, which to most of us is totally outside of our experience. Unfortunately in Elisa's case, violence got so bad, that she didn't see any other choice than kill herself. Such a waste.

I haven't seen any interview of Elisa's teachers, but in one story, they have said that "we didn't know, it was that bad". I worked almost 5 years with targets of bullying and this isn't the first time I heard that sentence. "We didn't know, it was that bad" in fact says, that teachers knew about bullying, they just didn't see it so serious, that they would have done something. I just wonder, how bad it should be, so that adults would intervene? Too many times, there is no such point, there is only "we didn't know, it was that bad". Adults hide behind those words.

I have spoken with parents, whose children have committed suicide after years of bullying. I have spoken with children, who have had suicidal tendencies, because they have been bullied for years. I have spoken with adults, who have deep scars, because they were bullied for years at school. Unspeakable violence has made permanent cracks to their lives. The violence they have suffered is such, that they all have had difficulties to get help or even understanding to the pain they have experienced.

We all have a right to live our lives without violence or even threat of it. We all have a responsibility to act so that our world would be non-violent. We all have a responsibility to see. We all have a responsibility to listen.

We can't hide behind the idea, that adults can't see bullying. We have to create such school cultures, where non-violent behaviour is a norm. We have to create such cultures, where children have a courage to get help, when words like "leave me alone" or "stop that", don't work. We have to create such cultures, where children trust adults and trust that adults will help. And most of all, we adults, must have a courage to ask and to listen.

Don't wait.