When I first visited Hiroshima in 2011, it was with some trepidation. The image that filled my mind (born of my years as a peace activist during the 1980s) was of a desolate graveyard populated by maimed and broken victims and their descendants: a stark abyss where nothing could grow and the soul could be sucked out of anyone lingering too long.
Upon arrival, my astonishment at the city that greeted me was absolute, and epiphanous. If Hiroshima could be transformed from the devastated wasteland that had pervaded my psyche and haunted my dreams, into a beautiful, vibrant city with tree-lined rivers, towering buildings and myriad memorials to those who had perished here – and further, a model peace community to inspire the world – there must be hope for us all, however dire our circumstances might seem.
The city of Hiroshima became my image of “what hope looks like” and from that image, the AccepTTranscend Model, which had been germinating for many years, finally took form.
The lessons of Hiroshima are many, and powerful. Of unimaginable suffering turned, gradually, to hope and new beginnings; of acceptance and progress while honouring the past that has shaped the present; of personal healing through community connection; of courageous compassion, leading to reconciliation and forgiveness; of sharing stories to change the world, both inner and outer; of vision, respons-ability and transformation; and ultimately of transcendence.
Encountering Hiroshima healed something archetypal within my psyche, and relating my Hiroshima encounters to others has touched many in a similar way.
Because if the most devastating atrocity in the history of humanity can be accepted (not justified!) and transcended by its survivors to create peace, healing and tranquil beauty, honouring those who have suffered while actively and passionately working towards a more positive, peaceful future to share, so can the devastations we experience in our own lives.
The AccepTTranscend Model uses the inspirational lessons of Hiroshima and its remarkable community to illustrate and support participants in finding their own way beyond suffering to acceptance and, ultimately, transcendence; a new life informed and, eventually, enriched by what has come before.
Tam Martin Fowles