Ambassadors’ Lecture Series: The Prelude to the Establishment of the Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Coventry University in 1996
- Kamran Mofid
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A brief introductory remarks by Prof. Kamran Mofid, Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) and Co-founder and Associate Director (1996-1999), Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Coventry University
Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The Keystones of Human Values
"We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate --- thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising."- Maya Angelou
Ambassadors’ Lecture Series: A bird’s eye view
In 1986 I was awarded my PhD in Economics at University of Birmingham and soon after I was appointed full-time senior lecturer at the Department of Economics at Coventry Polytechnic (now University).
At an international conference in London in 1986 I met the then director of the Anglo-Japanese Economic Institute, Mr. George Bull. We became very good friends. Indeed, George was like a father figure to me- a source of wisdon and inspiration. He introduced me to Japan and to many Japanese friends and facilitated some of my trips to Japan. We did many national and international conferences together, including: Japan and the U.K. Economy; Forgiveness and Reconciliation; NAFTA and the EU; Japan and the Global Economy; and Iran and the Emerging Global Order, all held at Coventry University.
We also together - in association with and supported by the University, the Cathedral and the City Council - instigated and co-founded the Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Coventry University and as part of its work, in association with the Ambassadors’ Lecture Series, which we had co- founded already, invited international speakers including the former presidents of Ireland and South Africa, namely, Mrs. Mary Robinson, and F.W. de Klerk to deliver lectures at Coventry Cathedral. Moreover, we also invited other international speakers including Ambassadors of Japan, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Mexico and the High Commissioner of Canada to deliver lectures on the need for dialogue and mutual respect amongst different cultures and civilisations at Coventry’s St. Mary’s Guildhall.
The Ambassadors’ Lecture Series aimed at enabling the ambassadors a frank exposition of their respective countries’ policies to a far wider audience in search of better understanding of why particular nations and peoples have acted in certain ways and what changes are desirable and feasible in different nations’ aims and attitudes.
The anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the Pacific War, made the decision of the Ambassador of Japan to accept our invitation to give the very first Ambassador’s Lecture especially significant and timely.
Remembering a Beautiful Day
Remembering an extraordinary and inspiring day, 11 March 1996, when President Mary Robinson came to Coventry, the first visit to Coventry by an Irish President
“I am deeply honoured to have been invited to inaugurate your Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation with this lecture, and to act as the Centre’s Patron.” -Mary Robinson, President of Ireland
I remember this day very affectionately, with pride and honour. A few months earlier, George Bull and I had sent a letter, if my memory serves me right, through the Irish Ambassador in London (a close personal friend of George) to President Robinson, inviting her to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation, and to act as the Centre’s Patron.
Then, on 12 January 1996 I received a fax from the Irish Embassy in London with the most pleasing and wonderful news, that President Mary Robinson has most graciously accepted our invitation to come to Coventry, to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation, and to act as the Centre’s Patron.
Remembering another Beautiful Day in Coventry
In early 1997, George and I submitted a letter of invitation to former President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa, to give the Second Lecture of the Centre at Coventry Cathedral.
was delighted and honoured when a few weeks later I received a fax that he had graciously accepted our invitation, and on 2 September 1997 Mr de Klerk came to Coventry, delivering his timely lecture “Principles of Forgiveness and Reconciliation” at the Cathedral.
Life is so full of unpredictable beauty and strange surprises
As many people, wiser than me have noted, our lives and the world in which we all live, are so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control of our own existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we're not ... Life, it can bring you so much joy and yet at the same time cause so much pain.
I was so devastated that after this wonderful journey, full of joy and happiness, achievements and success, due to some reasons beyond my control, I started to feel unwell, unhappy, not enjoying what I was doing and teaching, especially when I lost all confidence in the value of moral-free economics that I was teaching my students, and more.
In 1999 I voluntarily resigned from my post at Coventry University. It goes without saying that, I was heartbroken and extremely hurt that I was unable to nurture and develop further what I had envisioned and built.
Looking back, reflecting on what has happened, I think, somehow, somebody, somewhere, had planned it so that I, too, should have a life, similar to the life of Coventry itself: fall and rise again, a topic to which I will return in the second part of "My Coventry Story", covering 2000-2017.
Once again, thank you Coventry, my Coventrian friends, the sources of my inspiration and strength. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you all.
For a fuller and more detailed explanation of the story behind the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation see:
Coventry City of Peace, Forgiveness and Reconciliation
'Father Forgive’: Coventry Cathedral and my life’s journey of discovery
This is the Story of a Boy from Iran who became a Man in Coventry
Text of a presentation given in St Michael’s House, Coventry Cathedral on 26 July 2017 by Professor Kamran Mofid
“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” — Isak Dinesen