First ever "Forgiveness Forum" to convene peacemakers, politicians and experts from around the world
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In a year characterized by racial injustice, political polarization and economic uncertainty, not to mention an ongoing pandemic, it's going to take a lot more than a motivational poster of a sunrise to inspire the world toward unity. For genuine change to occur, we need to move past platitudes, and rekindle compassion through community and conversation.

Recognizing this global need, Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) launched the Forgiveness Forum, a new series of timely virtual conversations set to kick off on December 16, 2020. The events will explore how forgiveness can be used as a tool for personal growth and global healing by not only clarifying how forgiveness and justice — two seemingly disparate processes — can exist side by side, but also looking at the surprising science behind the physical and mental health benefits that forgiveness holds.

Right out of the gate, the Forum has secured a powerful line-up with The Elders, an exemplary group of politicians, peacemakers, and influencers who model forgiveness and work together for peace, justice and human rights. Speakers for the inaugural event will include three members of The Elders:

  • Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Zeid Raad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Jordanian Ambassador to the United States.

"Forgiveness and reconciliation are fundamental to the process of peace making and peace building," says President Santos.


"As the leader of a country that experienced tremendous suffering through conflict for many years, I know the importance of finding common ground and shared goals with those you have profoundly disagreed with. Only then can one consider true justice and hope for a better future." President Robinson agrees. "The power of forgiveness is so important to overcoming the challenges we face in a polarized world."

Forum Chair Andrew Serazin, President of TWCF, will guide the conversation alongside Moderator Zain Verjee, a world-renowned journalist and former CNN anchor. "One of the things that is so fascinating about this body of work," says Serazin, "is that forgiveness is a process that has universal resonance. Around the world, everyone has a perspective on or experience with forgiveness, and at Templeton World Charity Foundation, we are interested in exploring all of those stories."

Building upon the introduction in the first session, the Forgiveness Forum will continue in 2021 with conversations on the science of forgiveness and forgiveness in pop culture, engaging the hearts and minds of philosophers and psychologists, scholars and poets, pop culture icons, athletes and scientists. Serazin says he hopes that by "this time next year we have a broad coalition of leading individuals and organizations committed to spreading the word about forgiveness."

Often, we think of forgiveness as an obligation — something you're "supposed" to do as opposed to something you want to do. But forgiveness is also something we should do for ourselves. Helping others, repairing society, healing the world — those are actually bonus side effects. The first person forgiveness heals is yourself. If you're having trouble with this time-honored practice (and we all are), an hour with the Forum is a good first step. "Our hope," says Serazin, "is that people will be open to learning more about forgiveness and consider it in their own lives."

The inaugural Forgiveness Forum event will take place at 10–11AM EST Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 on Zoom and will be open and free to anyone around the world. The event will also be live streamed via Templeton World Charity Foundation's YouTube, and embedded in the Forgiveness Forum website.

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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