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To err and to forgive is human

When it comes to forgiving – and being forgiven – there’s no time like the present, David Chard says.

Chard has designated April 7 “World Forgiveness Day 2002” to help others experience forgiveness.

And, Chard wants to enlist people to plan events on a grassroots level he hopes will ripple outward.

“Some people want to put it off to ‘someday,’” Chard said, “but there’s no ‘someday’ on the calendar. Things can happen that we don’t expect. That day may not come.”

Chard stumbled onto the notion of forgiveness by accident, he says, when a friend invited him to a self-improvement seminar.

Chard approached the weekend cynically.

“Maybe I’m just a seminar junkie,” Chard said. “I said, ‘I’ll go and get the tee-shirt.’”

Chard says the weekend opened him up to the possibility of resolving issues from the past with his parents and siblings.

Despite that fact that she had Alzheimers and might not understand, Chard decided to call his mother and offer forgiveness.

I said ‘whatever happened is over,’” Chard said. “I wasn’t sure what good it would do because of her illness, but she got it, all right.

“She heard me loud and clear.”

Chard, who spent two decades working in public relations in Asia, naturally turned to communications to share his own insight. He conceived the notion of creating a global forgiveness day to give others the chance to complete the past and move on.

Helped by stranger in Amsterdam, who donated design of a Forgiveness Day web site, Chard began to spread the word online.

Chard breaks “forgiveness” into three categories: forgiving oneself for hurts done to others, forgiving others for wrongs they have done, and forgiving life for the inevitable hurts living inflicts.

“You have to forgive life every day,” Chard said. “People pick up a paper and see horrible things. They happen and you can’t get out of the way fast enough.”

Chard, who says that he has a spiritual life but no religious affiliation, notes that World Forgiveness Day is a secular celebration.

Methodology is varied, with visualization, journaling, writing letters and direct apology all playing a part.

Or, one may simply make a list of all people one has a grudge against and forgive them at once.

The idea will spread by word of mouth as well as online, Chard says, and people will participate in whatever way they want to, just going quietly to the web site, or planning public events.

“I’m kicking the ball here to get it going,” Chard said. “I expect other people to pick it up. I hope an artist will want to paint a painting, or a musician want to write a song.”

Chard is looking for local input before the fact at organizational meeting March 10 to shape the event and choose a venue.

Chard notes that whether one obtains forgiveness or whether it is withheld, the act of asking is what gives him – and others – release.

Chard would like World Forgiveness day become an annual global event. His goals are already defined: he wants to carry the message of World Forgiveness Day from the Bainbridge launch site to an audience of at least 1,000,000.

“My goal is for 10,000 people to experienced forgiveness on April 7,” Chard said, “but if just one person does, then Forgiveness Day is a success.”

Those interested in participating should call 780-2333, go to www.worldforgivenessday.com or email dchard888@aol.com.

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