Divided into two 90-minute acts, Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate premiered April 2011.

About the Program

In the PBS film Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate, acclaimed writer, producer and director Helen Whitney explores a compelling range of stories, from personal betrayal to global reconciliation after genocide.

body_forgiveness_1.jpgTerri Jentz's story of an attack perpetrated against her when she was a college student is spotlighted in the film.

Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate provides an intimate look into the spontaneous outpouring of forgiveness: from the Amish families for the 2006 shooting of their children in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania; the struggle of '60s radicals to cope with the serious consequences of their violent acts of protest; the shattering of a family after the mother abandons them, only to return seeking forgiveness; the legacy and divisiveness of apartheid and the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in South Africa; the penitential journey of a modern-day Germany, confronting the horrific acts of the Holocaust; and the riveting stories of survivors of the unimaginably, brutal Rwandan genocide.

Once a uniquely religious word, forgiveness now is changing and there is no consensus about what it is and what it is becoming. However you define forgiveness, its power is real — and never more so when it struggles with the unforgivable. Inevitably, as Whitney reveals, its new role in the world raises serious and complex questions: why is forgiveness in the air today; what does that say about us and the times we live in; what are its power, its limitations and in some instances its dangers; has it been cheapened or deepened... or both?

"If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.– Mother Teresa

People across the globe, from all cultures and traditions, embrace love and forgiveness in daily life. These values are universally viewed as central to the fabric of humanity. Yet, the emerging global community has few institutions dedicated to deepening the understanding and spreading the application of these values. In this context, the Fetzer Institute pursues a unique role—working to investigate, activate, and celebrate the power of love and forgiveness as a practical force for good in today’s world.

The Fetzer Institute launched The Campaign for Love and Forgiveness in 2006 as an experiment in capacity building and community building at the grassroots level. The campaign has touched thousands of people by inviting them to bring love and forgiveness to the center of individual and community life.

Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate is designed to encourage contemplation and spark conversation. The Institute invites viewers to engage with additional resources developed by The Campaign for Love and Forgiveness including curriculum-based conversations and activities.


Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate is written, produced and directed by Helen Whitney. Executive producers are Paul Dietrich and Ian Watson. WETA executive producers are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson.  


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1. In November 2003 Gary Ridgway pled guilty to 48 counts of murder. However, he later admitted to killing over 90 women. The real number may never be known. 

2. The location of Gary Ridgway's trial, which was held in Washington State, was mis-identified.

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