An Expository Essay by Amy
Jo Berry is a personification of forgiveness and compassion and has committed countless acts of kindness such as publicly speaking about her journey and founding the Building Bridges for Peace charity. She has overcome many obstacles in her life, one of which impacted her life greatly and led her to meeting her father’s assassin, Patrick Magee. Through this, she has come to respect and understand Pat Magee, filling her life, and others, with empathy and sincerity.
At the age of 27, Jo Berry experienced a heartache that bludgeoned her life with great force. On October 12th, 1984, a time bomb went off in the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England that killed her father and four others, while 31 were injured. The bomb was planted by Patrick Magee, a member of the IRA who had intended to murder the current Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. After the incident, Pat was caught and sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was released after 14 years due to the Good Friday Agreement in 1999.
At first, Jo was devastated. She did understand why someone could do something so malicious, how they could possibly do something to harm so many innocent people. She was confused and greatly saddened, but she was determined to turn her life around and make this horrible situation into something more bearable. Jo decided that she wanted to “put a face to the enemy” that had killed her father, so she planned to meet Pat Magee.
Jo was very nervous before meeting Pat, but she was intent on seeing him as a real human being, not a faceless criminal. She described him as “soft-spoken” and was astounded to find that he truly regretted his actions, the fact that he had harmed the victims of the Brighton Bombing. Pat was amazed that someone could have enough dignity to come face-to-face with her father’s murderer, and that prospect encouraged him to fill his life with peace, and leave behind the actions of his past.
Jo met with Pat several other times, and they began to develop an unusual friendship that led them to create larger acts of peace. Jo spoke at the newly rebuilt St. Ethelberga’s center in July 2003, which was demolished by the IRA during the 1993 Bishopgate Bombing. On October 18th, 2009, Pat and Jo founded the Building Bridges for Peace organization, which is an anti-violence program that works with schools and other projects around the world to promote respect, acceptance and forgiveness.
On March 21, 2011, Jo lectured at the Peace One Day conference, which took place in London. Along with Jo, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pat Magee, and Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, whose family was a victim of the Rwandan genocide, all spoke on a panel together. Jo has many plans for the future, such as writing an autobiography, filming a documentary and visiting Nigeria to advocate peace work. She continues to collaborate actively with Pat Magee and other peacemaker and humanitarians worldwide.
Jo Berry is an inspiration to both me and many other people around the world who have heard and sympathized with her story. She has overcome many feats in her life and is still an involved peace promoter today. The strength that she mustered in order to condone the hostile actions of Pat Magee was incredible, much less build a coalition between herself and Pat, working to further patronize her desire for peace in the world. Jo is a perfect example showing that insight, empathy and understanding can build a bridge to forgiveness.