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Your Welcome Story > One Community's approach to the film

In response to questions about two different screenings in Washington State, Sally Jo writes:

"In both the Memorial Day programs, I believe that important new insights were gained by everyone viewing the film: civilians and veterans. Veterans saw the possibility of hope and healing through sharing their stories, even their most horrific and painful ones. Civilians saw the importance of "just listening and witnessing," not judging, analyzing, or trying to fix.

I say this, because in the dialogue afterward, I specifically asked people to consider these insights. We used a talking stick, and I asked people to share whatever was in their hearts, as was witnessed in the film, and I asked everyone else to "just listen," not respond. I asked participants to take the risk of experiencing, on some level, what we had witnessed in the film. In both dialogues, veterans were the first to speak. They spoke of their experiences and their feelings, even the painful ones. Everyone listened respectfully. Others shared their experiences with loved ones who had been impacted by war, and how that had in turn impacted them. Some shared their experiences with violence. On a very small scale, we were able to re-create the kind of community dialogue that I believe leads to healing.

In many cases, I am certain this was the first time participants had experienced this. I call this "creating sacred space for healing to occur." In some cases people spoke about their hopes and dreams for ending war and violence. But it never turned into a diatribe or a political debate. It was interesting that we were able to create community from a group of total strangers in a very short time. (This often happens in our film/dialogue programs at our church.) I 'm not saying we worked miracles, but I do believe we modeled a type of witnessing that had never been experienced. I believe the participants will be more likely to talk to their friends and loved ones in more meaningful ways about war, violence, and military service. Who knows? Let's hope! Judith has so many good programs already going at the VRC, and some folks are talking about trying to host a healing retreat and public event on the island - which I think would be perfect!"

June 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterBill Mc Millan

Thank you for sharing this moving experience. I have been present at two showings of the film and though the discussions afterward were good I think going beyond in this manner does create "sacred healing". Kudos for the heart work.

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArlene Dean