Global activist promotes peace through understanding

By Laura Hancq
March 14, 2012

Lisa Gibson

There is more power in love than in hateful retaliation was the message from the founder and executive director of the Peace and Prosperity Alliance. Lisa Gibson, who lost her brother in the PanAm Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing in 1988, has turned her tragic loss into advocacy for peace and understanding. Gibson spoke to Cabrini students on Monday, March 12.

“I’m just one woman who lost somebody who wants to prevent terrorism,” Gibson said. “My goal is to build bridges of understanding and friendship.”

And build bridges is exactly what Gibson has done–with the Libyan people and even the late Libyan dictator, who is speculated to have ordered the Lockerbie bombing, Muammar Gaddafi. She had the opportunity to meet with the former dictator and claims that even in their brief meeting, she was able to see glimpses of his heart. While Gibson understands that many view her as controversial, she has been given inner peace through her practices, beliefs and travels.

Gibson is the author of “Life in Death” and has traveled to countless post war-torn countries where she helps train leaders, promote understanding and most of all, share her personal story of loss.

“My call is to go to the tough places,” Gibson said.

She shared with the Cabrini community that her most notable moment amongst her travels was when she was asked by Libyans to serve as a liaison–to change the perception of Libyans to the rest of the world as not being terrorists but as wanting peace. Subsequently, she received the opportunity to speak at a rally for the Arab Spring. She fondly remembers a 5-year-old girl being on stage, leading the cheers and thinking she was living history in the making.

“If I had not chosen to take the road less traveled, what I would have missed,” Gibson said.

Gibson chooses to take paths of resistance because she believes in order to move forward, we must think differently and try new strategies in order to create change. She encouraged Cabrini students to think of renowned visionaries such as Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and challenged the audience to question if these trailblazers had gone with the status quo of retaliation, would they have made a positive impact?

“It’s a circle of revenge; when does it end? When one person decides to change,” Gibson said.

One of her biggest influences to continue on her path is the aforementioned Dr. King. To the audience, she offered one of his famous quotes that she lives by, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

She says her Christian identity has shaped her views and shared that she uses the Bible, especially Romans 12, as a guideline for not matching evil with evil.

“Faith can be used for hate or for love,” Gibson said. “We are all sinners and we have all been sinned against. Responding in a loving way to those who hurt us is incredibly shaming. It is not easy but there is so much more power in it.”

Gibson stressed the fact that in no way does her approach of understanding condone terrorist behavior. She told the audience that we must stress that it is unacceptable but respond with restoration and reconciliation because it is the only truly effective way to fight hate.

“What I do can be controversial but when you try and respond in the moral high road, it’s uncomfortable, it challenges people but it bears witness to who we are as humans,” Gibson said.

She continues to do what she does because she believes we have the opportunity to make a difference and she encouraged the Cabrini community to be of a similar mindset of the importance of understanding.

“Love is the most important weapon in the war on terror,” Gibson said.

Muammar Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Feb. 2, 2009, in Addis Abeba. The late leader of Libya died on Oct. 20, 2011, during the 2011 Libyan civil war. Gaddafi was captured alive after his convoy was attacked by NATO warplanes as Sirte fell on Oct. 20. (Credit: MCT)
Libyan people celebrate the death of the Libyan fallen leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 20, 2011. Mahmoud Jibril, head of the Libyan National Transitional Council’s executive committee, confirmed Thursday, Oct. 20, that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in gun battle in his hometown Sirte. (Credit: MCT)


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Laura Hancq

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