‘Jay shares thoughts on the value of forgiveness and the positive energy it can release.'
We could all benefit from a world that offers more forgiveness. This is especially true today as there is so much negativity in our discourse which often becomes so personal. It’s easy to assess blame and become bitter, but the truth is that there is a power in forgiveness. For the person who can transcend the situation at hand and forgive the actions or words of another, there is a positive energy that can be tapped into. Realizing that we are all human and offering the other fellow a second chance creates a sense of freedom and relief. Not just for the other person, but importantly, for ourselves as well.
During World War II in the spring of 1944, a young Jewish woman named Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister were living in a Jewish ghetto in Hungary when they were separated from their family and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Arriving at the camp at the mere age of 10, she and her sister would become test subjects of the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele. They were experimented on regularly, and this would go on until the camp was liberated at the end of the war, with both sisters ultimately surviving. Later in life, as Eva continued to heal from the trauma of her experiences, she felt that her resentment and anger weren’t holding anyone back but herself, and that in order to move on, and live a fulfilling life, she must forgive. So, she located an associate of Dr. Mengele, who was still alive, wrote him a letter, sharing that though he and his colleagues caused her family great trauma, she had forgiven him. As she describes it herself, “What I discovered about myself was I had the power to forgive, nobody could give me that power and nobody could take it away.” Eva would go on to become a public advocate for forgiveness, traveling the world to tell her story, using it to demonstrate the ability forgiveness has to not just help others, but help ourselves. “Forgiveness is nothing more, nothing less than an act of self-healing, self-liberation” she would often tell audiences.
We’ve all had moments where someone has let us down, done something which betrays our trust, or makes us feel that we’ve been wronged. In the case of Eva, we see someone who was wronged in quite possibly the worst ways imaginable, yet she was still able to forgive. And though we may intrinsically feel like we know what forgiveness is or how to define it, do we really? Is it an emotion or behavior? Does it mean excusing someone’s offense? As Dr. Jack Kornfield, a leading psychologist in the field of forgiveness has noted, forgiveness is, in particular, the capacity to let go, to release the suffering, the sorrows, the burdens of the pains and betrayals of the past, and instead to choose renewal. Forgiveness shifts us from the small separate sense of ourselves focused on what’s happened in the past, learning from what’s happened, and ultimately finding a new way forward with more perspective. With forgiveness we are unwilling to attack or wish harm on anyone, including ourselves. And without forgiveness, we would be destined to never learn from the past, only suffer from it, ultimately repeating it again and again.
Forgiveness, as Eva showed us, is not for anybody else except for ourselves. It’s about handling our inner pain, asking ourselves questions about why something hurt us so badly, and discovering ways to forge a path forward. With forgiveness we give ourselves new opportunities, new chances to learn, to grow. While we cannot change the transgressions of the past, we can determine the outcomes of our future. And sometimes, that starts with a simple act of forgiveness.
Goffstown Giant Pumpkin Regatta
One of the best ways to enjoy Fall in New Hampshire is by visiting the Goffstown Giant Pumpkin Regatta – this year scheduled for Saturday, October 16th. Coupled with a 10k run around the town lake, a pie eating contest, and a dog costume competition, this family focused event brings people together every year – all gathering in historic downtown Goffstown. While the pups in costumes are cute and the 10k run attracts over 500 people, what takes the cake is the same event that gives the event its namesake - the ‘Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta.’
The emphasis is on ‘Giant’ here. These are not ordinary pumpkins with many of them breaking the 1,000-pound mark! But the weigh-in is only the beginning. Contestants must then hollow out and carve their pumpkins, but not into giant jack-o-lanterns. No, they are turned into something a little more festive and useful than that - BOATS! These pumpkin boats are then dressed up and decorated ‘costume style’ and raced down the river right in the middle of Goffstown’s old town center with thousands of onlookers cheering on their favorite pumpkin boat and, of course, a winner is declared!
Fort Stark - A Diamond in the Rough
There are some amazing historic treasures right here on the seacoast in New Hampshire – and Fort Stark is one of them. It might surprise you to know that along Portsmouth Harbor, there were seven Forts built to protect the area. Fort Constitution, Fort Washington, Fort Dearborn, Fort Sullivan, Fort McClary, Fort Foster, and Fort Stark. Some of the Forts have gone on to become state parks including Fort Dearborn which is now the site of Odiorne State Park in Rye. One of my favorites is Fort Stark which is a recognized state park and still exists for people to visit today.
Residing on the corner of New Castle Island, Fort Stark was named in honor of NH General and state motto originator, John Stark. Today, people can visit this once military installation equipped with massive cannons, artillery, and high protective walls, and take in the views of the harbor. The unmarked walking trails and self-guided tours in and out of the buildings allow you to take in what it was like to be a soldier stationed at Fort Stark and understand the role the Fort played in protecting us from an Atlantic invasion by our enemies.
The Machine Shop Museum located at the entrance of Fort Stark features some amazing exhibits including one that features and explains the use of Morse Code between ships, shore offices, and naval signal lamps. You can also learn about the nearly 100 ships that wrecked along the New Castle rocky coast.
There is so much amazing history to take in and I invite you to see for yourself. But at the same time, we need to ensure we do our part to preserve history. You see, I’ve known about Fort Stark for years and recently I was reminded of this place by friend, 10-year old Elliot Perry of Bedford. He visited the park recently with his family and was appalled at the broken glass and graffiti in some of the public places. So, he picked some of it up to clean up the park and honor those soldiers who served at Fort Stark and out of respect for our military and veterans today.
Good for Elliot! He was very excited to tell me about his efforts and asked if I would ‘pass on’ to others the spirit of pitching in to help in this cause. So, when you visit Fort Stark or any monument, please take a moment to pick up any loose trash you see or consider donating to the volunteer groups that maintain these amazing sites. I already know Elliot is coming up with a plan to clean up Fort Stark, and when he does you can be sure that the Sunshine Report will be here to be supportive, spread the word and recruit people to join in the effort!
Positive Profile of the Week: Sheriff Chris Connelly
To Serve and Protect – it is with great respect to highlight this week an outstanding leader in the area of law enforcement, my friend, Chris Connelly, Sheriff of Hillsborough County.
Chris has nearly four decades of law enforcement experience and an outstanding record of community service. He graduated from the NH Police Academy in the ‘80’s and has served in multiple roles since that time – gaining highly relevant experience as a deputy in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office, serving in a variety of roles in the Goffstown Police Department and then as Chief of Police in the Town of Dunbarton. He also served as Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte during her tenure representing the Granite State in Washington. Chris played a key role in the Senator's office ensuring that federal funding was available for programs to aid first responders as well as for assistance in the prevention, treatment, and expansion of programs related to combating the drug crisis. His commitment to community policing, security, and justice issues have made Chris a leader in the law enforcement community.
You might think that these impressive accomplishments would be enough for Chris to decide to retire after a successful career. But, no. With a desire to serve, Chris returned to the Sheriff’s office and served as deputy sheriff under his predecessor, Sheriff Jim Hardy. When Sheriff Hardy retired, Chris stood up again and was overwhelmingly elected by the voters of Hillsborough County to serve as their Sheriff.
Today, Chris Connelly serves as the 29th Sheriff of Hillsborough County. Along with his dedicated staff, the Sheriff’s office works closely with our state police, and local police departments to protect over 875 square miles of land and 417,000 residents.
The state owes a great debt of gratitude to Sheriff Connelly and all those who wear the uniform. Thank you, Chris!
Quotes of the Week: Forgiveness
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ― Steve Maraboli
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” ― Nelson Mandela
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” ― Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.