We have returned from our two weeks in Eastern Europe. As shared in the previous entry, Donna and I learned a lot about the realities of war, invasion, oppression, domination – and survival, resilience, freedom and, even, forgiveness.

Much of the history of that region is full of stories of victimization.

We all have stories of victimization. In workshops and presentations, I make the point that victimization is part of the human experience. Think of it as a Scale of Victimization. Thankfully, for many of us, our experiences are at the low (1-2) end of the spectrum, such as coming down with a cold, not getting a good night’s sleep, or being on the receiving end of the bad mood of a spouse or significant other.

For many in Eastern Europe, they have either lived through or have heard family stories about the extreme (9-10) end of the scale in which death, destruction, starvation, and a whole host of other atrocities.

During our time, we also heard stories of forgiveness and the rebuilding of lives, cities and neighborhoods, and hope through making the choice to forgive and move on.

What is done is done and cannot be undone – only learned from. “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” It is also the gateway to creating a future of compassion, resourcefulness, and envisioned outcomes.