Happy International Forgiveness Day!

August is a notoriously slow month for news (and blogging). It’s also somewhat bereft of holidays and official days of observance. According to the web site Holiday Insights, August does host a few official holidays (that is, days of observance that were established by presidential proclamation or acts of Congress). These include U.S. Coast Guard Day, National Lighthouse Day, Aviation Day, Senior Citizen’s Day, and Women’s Equality Day. The unofficial August holidays, I have just learned, also include National Dog Day, Presidential Joke Day (on August 11, 1984, President Reagan joked into a live microphone that the U.S. had officially outlawed “Russia” and would begin bombing five minutes thereafter), and Vesuvius Day (take a guess). But these are the exceptions that prove the rule: August is a month in which we’re not encouraged to be mindful of very much.

Even so, over the past couple of years, I’ve become rather fond of today, the first Sunday in August: This is the day on which a group called the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance is trying to establish a worldwide observance of International Forgiveness Day. I don’t know anything about this group, other than what is posted on their web site, but their self-described mission is “to evoke the healing spirit of Forgiveness worldwide.” I don’t think they’re taking their cues from scholarly writings or scientific research on forgiveness, reconciliation, and peacemaking. Instead, it appears to be a truly grassroots movement, trying on a very small scale to encourage forgiveness not only as personal tool for overcoming anger and resentment, but also as a way of repairing relationships between individuals, communities and conflict groups.

For the past 18 years, according to their web site, they have hosted an “International Forgiveness Day” event, and today is no exception. So if you’re out in the Bay Area today, and are curious, you might consider getting out to San Rafael to see what they’re up to. Also, their web site indicates that they will be live-streaming the event here, so I suppose you could celebrate remotely from your deck chair or porch swing.

But perhaps even that feels like more effort than the heat will permit you to expend. I sympathize. If that’s the case, consider sparing a thought for forgiveness today. Or raise two cheers for forgiveness. Or why not make a forgiveness day gazpacho? (This is my plan.) I can think of many worse things to celebrate on a slow, muggy Sunday in August.

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