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Living Mandela's Message of Forgiveness; An Unreal Dream; U.N. Inspectors Visit Iranian Nuclear Site; Northeast Braces for Snow Ice, Sleet

Aired December 8, 2013 - 08:30   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Number four, U.N. inspectors expected to wrap up work shortly at a key Iranian nuclear facility and then return to Vienna. Now Iran signed a major accord on it's the nuclear program remember with western powers last month. Today's inspection is the first since that deal was struck even though that was something outside that deal wasn't actually in it.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes it's a by-product of the deal.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Number five, South Africans are celebrating Nelson Mandela during a national day of prayer. They've gathered in churches and mosques and synagogues all across the nation to pay tribute to South Africa's first black President and an icon of reconciliation and forgiveness. President Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will attend Tuesday's memorial service for Mandela. That's in Johannesburg --

A church mass from the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem -- that mass will also happen, I think we have some pictures of that we're showing. The death of Nelson Mandela has led many to reflect on really what it means to forgive. And what it means to be forgiven. And when Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years, brutal years behind bars, he forgave his jailers. He let go of the pain and the regret and the hurt.

PAUL: And, you know what? That's not an easy thing to do for any of us in our lives based on, you know, if somebody has hurt us. A lot of us will never -- you know will know exactly what that -- won't know what that was like. But we get that hurt and that pain and how do you -- how do you forgive? How do you get over it?

To discuss, I'm joined by -- we are joined by Brent Strawn who teaches bible and theology at the Canvas School and of course in New York we have Dr. Jeff Gardere a clinical psychologist. Thank you both so much for being with us.

I want to read a quote to you here from Mandela about forgiveness real quick as we get started. It is, quote "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind I'd still be in prison."

So Brent, what do you -- what do you take from that? And there's a lot of truth to that, isn't there? I mean we're keeping ourselves holed up when we don't let it go.

BRENT STRAWN, UNITED METHODIST CHURCH MINISTER: Yes. Forgiveness is super hard, like you said -- right at the beginning.

PAUL: Yes.

STRAWN: I mean it's -- you can't be cavalier about that. And the bible and theology and Christianity and Judaism is not cavalier about how hard it is to forgive. And yet, it's imperative. It says in the scriptural texts to forgive.

In the New Testament, for instance Jesus makes it absolutely a command that one must forgive if one wants to be forgiven and that includes interpersonal relationship as well as the relationship with the divine.

BLACKWELL: Yes and Jeff I've got a question and I want to preface this by saying I don't want people to think that I am questioning the motive of Nelson Mandela what I ask this question because it takes a lot to go and have tea with the widow of the man who created the apartheid system.

But Jeff, the question is, does it matter if the forgiveness is based on religion or even if it is based on some moral codes, sometimes if it is just expedient to forgive and move on to get to another goal? Does it matter?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I don't think it matters at all. I think, of course, Nelson Mandela had religion and he had spirituality. So that certainly helped him. But he also had a political agenda.

So we're talking Victor a little bit of both here. He knew in order to destroy apartheid, in order to change the world, he had to look at forgiving his jailers. He had to leave that hate behind so he could be much more effective with regard to his agenda.

But the fact is that it's not just about forgiving the other person that is important. The most important thing is that you're able to move on. You're able to let go of that anger and fear. You're a more efficient and happier person because that old saying of he who has hate, if you have hate for a person, that person will own you.

PAUL: Isn't that the truth? And you know, one of the things that I've learned in my own life and I think was the hardest thing for me to get about forgiveness so I finally did was you can forgive someone and still cut them out of your life.


PAUL: You know if, somebody is dangerous for you in your life, if they're not a good person to have in your life, you -- you can still -- you can still cut them out.

STRAWN: Yes, yes. PAUL: You're allowed to do that. I mean it doesn't make them suddenly safe for you just because you've forgiven them, right?

STRAWN: Right, right.

PAUL: And isn't it a defense mechanism?

STRAWN: Right, right.

PAUL: What does the bible say about that?

STRAWN: No. Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting right? Forgive and forget is not a biblical maxim. You know we say it but it's not found in the bible. In fact some things in the bible are so profoundly hurtful and bad that you're really instructed no to forgive and forget them.

You know you can forgive them but not forget them. Because as you say, you have to protect yourself on the one hand you make sure these things never happen again. But also because it keeps you thankful that you're not in that circumstance anymore if you remember what it was like.

So I think forgetting is not always a part of the equation. But rather changing our activity towards people -- right. It's not just how we feel about them. But what we do towards them and can we avoid escalating or retaliating or seeking revenge rather letting that go, as you said. That's something we can do even if we don't ever forget.

PAUL: How do we do that? Don't you wonder?

BLACKWELL: Yes I mean how do we start that conversation? And even if it's internal? If it's introspective to forgive someone because often the people we have a grudge against don't even know it. They're going on about their life and don't know that we're so angry or so held by that resentment.

Jeff, how do you start the process of forgiveness?

GARDERE: Well, you start a day at a time. You know that if you let that anger go just for that day, don't worry about tomorrow that will take care of itself.

But the most important thing in getting rid of that anger is what Nelson Mandela did. You change your perception. Instead of seeing that person as being very hateful, instead, you feel sorry for them because you know that they're also a victim. Those jailers were also victims of apartheid. And that's why he was able to reach out to them and show them that they were living under an oppressive system that turned them into monsters.

So that's where that forgiveness comes in because it's not about you. It's about them and their hurt that makes them do something that can be so hateful.

BLACKWELL: You know, we talk about I think a lot of what we're talking about is a post-Robben Island Mandela. A pre-Robben Island Mandela was probably more of an eye for an eye person than turn the other cheek.


PAUL: And that's what I wanted to ask you about. Because that's in the bible and there seems to be some people say conflicting messages. You have you know "an eye for an eye" in the Old Testament. Then we have "turn the other cheek". Can -- so can those two ideas even co-exist? I mean how do you -- is one better than the -- is one more important than the other? What do you say to that?

STRAWN: Yes, yes well "an eye for an eye" in the legal material of the Old Testament or Hebrew bible is really a way to limit a payback in crime scenarios. So it is found throughout the ancient world in legal materials. So if someone you know committed a crime and they poked your eye out, you could poke their eye out but you couldn't kill them. It's actually a way to contain escalation of violence or reparation. So it really doesn't have anything to do with forgiveness.

And of course, both the Old Testament and the New Testament have a lot with proper care towards the enemies. Proverbs, as you know if your enemy is hungry, give them food. If he's thirsty, feed him. But -- but I think one key thing about the biblical material and it's in the Book of Psalms in way it talks about its enemies, there's a lot of, you know, what we would say is angry rhetoric about one's enemies in the Psalms. I mean even violent things are said.

But I think it's to Jeff's point, it's a way that the psalmists is these ancient Israelites worked through their feelings and they did so within the context of prayer to God, not with an angry fist toward their neighbor. And in that way it's a way to actually contain the violence as well as let it go at the same time. Let it go but not let it own you and actually make it a part of a different relationship. A relationship not with your enemy proper but -- but with the divine and with others.


PAUL: Wow.

BLACKWELL: Dr. Jeff Gardere, thank you so much. Brent Strawn, of course, thank you as well.

GARDERE: Pleasure.

STRAWN: Thanks a lot, thanks a lot.

PAUL: I'm so glad to have both of you here. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: It's great conversation. For more on faith, be sure to check out our belief blog at the

Another major music group has pulled out of a show at Sea World. Heart now says that a CNN documentary led to that decision. We'll explain. You're watching NEW DAY SUNDAY.


BLACKWELL: I don't know if people really want to feel this moment in Washington.

PAUL: It's beautiful. Merry Christmas, everybody. Come on.

BLACKWELL: Oh, Christi with the Christmas card here.

PAUL: So it is.

BLACKWELL: So that was the Capitol, here we've got the White House. And you can see the snow coming down as Jennifer Gray has told us all morning that the storm is moving east -- New York, Philly, Boston, you're all under the gun. We'll talk about that a little later.


BLACKWELL: But also, good news this morning.

A Korean War veteran detained in North Korea for more than a month is waking up in America in his home; 85-year-old Merrill Newman returned home yesterday. Newman was pulled off a plane and detained. That was in October and that was just as his group was getting ready to fly back home.


MERRILL NEWMAN, RELEASED FROM NORTH KOREA: It's been a great, great homecoming. And I'm tired but I'm ready to be with my family now. And thank you all for the support.


BLACKWELL: And there at the airport in San Francisco, Newman also called for the release of another American -- this man Kenneth Bae. Bae has been in North Korea's custody since last year.

The rock band Heart has become now the third major act to pull out of a show at Sea World.

PAUL: Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson say they made the move after CNN aired "BLACKFISH" a lot of viewers say the documentary shows Sea World exploits marine mammals. Now earlier country singer Willie Nelson and Canadian rock act Bare Naked Ladies had pulled the plug on their shows at the Florida theme park as well.

BLACKWELL: Yes an airplane passenger got a big surprise when he nodded off during a United Express flight.

PAUL: Yes he was flying from Louisiana to California to see his sister, we know. Had a layover in Houston when he fell asleep and he says he got left behind, locked on the plane.

BLACKWELL: I don't know how this happened.

PAUL: I don't either.


TOM WAGNER, PASSENGER: I woke up and the lights were out. I was like what's going on?


BLACKWELL: Somehow everybody got off the flight without noticing this man was still sitting in his seat. He made it out after his girlfriend called the airline, United Express is now investigating. But when I fall asleep on a plane, I always wake up when we land. That landing wakes me up. And all right time to go.

PAUL: That's true. He clearly was in a deep sleep.

BLACKWELL: Very deep.

PAUL: And was not snoring.

BLACKWELL: And yes and they left him there.

Michael Morton, if you've heard that name, we've been talking about him this morning. He was convicted of murdering his wife. He spent 25 years in a prison in Texas for the crime. Here's the problem with that. He didn't do it. And the evidence proved it.

PAUL: And it's so hard to believe that people see this, you know this is the subject of a new CNN documentary it's called "UNREAL DREAM". Take a look.


MICHAEL MORTON, MURDER CONVICTION OVERTURNED: I am probably the personification of that old axiom you remember from school about you can't prove a negative. It's just you -- how do you prove you didn't do something?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How rough was it inside?

MORTON: I never liked it. But I got used to it.

CUOMO: How long did it take you?

MORTON: Probably 14 or 15 years.

CUOMO: 14 or 15 years?

MORTON: To get to where I was used to it.

CUOMO: Are the first years the hardest?

MORTON: The first years are hard just because it's a shock and it's new and it's constant adjustment, constant recalibration. CUOMO: You say I always thought that I would get out. What fueled the hope?

MORTON: It's difficult for me to say whether it was just faith that I knew I was right and I wasn't guilty that this would work out or just that I didn't know how deep I was in.


PAUL: You can catch "AN UNREAL DREAM", by the way, "THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY"; it's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, world leaders are watching Iran this morning. U.N. inspectors, weapons inspectors are there visiting one of the country's key nuclear facility.

PAUL: And despite Iran's effort to be more transparent, some U.S. lawmakers still want tougher sanctions. Up next, we're going to talk about how that contentious issue could play out in Washington.


PAUL: Ok, guy. Being a Sunday, I know you're probably looking ahead at your week and wondering what is on tap. Well, we're going to help you out here and let you know what's going on.

First of all on Tuesday, Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa -- world leaders including President Obama, former Presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton -- all going to be on hand for that.

And then Wednesday, it's "Time's Person of the Year" being announced. As always, editors choose the official winner but there is an online poll. And for that, Egypt's defense minister came out on top. Others on the list, by the way, include New Jersey governor, Chris Christie and, yes, Miley Cyrus. We'll see what they decide there.

Friday, is Friday a big budget day for you? You get your paycheck? See where it's going to go. Well, it is for Congress. Negotiation deadlines for it, that's what's going to be on tap. Important, of course, because getting it done on time is going to avoid another set of shutdowns.

And then on Saturday, marking the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy; one year ago on that gunman opened fire in a Connecticut killing 26 people, most of them, as you remember, young children.

And then Sunday, Nelson Mandela will be raid to rest. This funeral and burial is going to be on the grounds of the leader's childhood home so in the hills where he used to run and play as a child -- Victor. And of course, we'll be covering all of that throughout the week.

BLACKWELL: Of course. Christi -- thanks. This morning U.N. weapons inspectors -- they're on the ground in Iran. Iran has invited the inspectors to visit its heavy water production plant as a by product of the deal in Geneva. This is also a deal with the International Atomic Energy Association or Agency -- rather. The Obama administration has praised Iran's efforts. But a push in Congress to impose tougher sanctions could complicate matters.

Let's bring in CNN's Candy Crowley. Candy, it's good to you have this morning. Your show is coming up in just about ten minutes. So the President said in conversation yesterday at the Brookings Institute -- Friday actually -- that he's ok with modest Iranian enrichment program. How is that expected to fly with some skeptical members of Congress?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Not particularly well. I do get the sense that in Congress, there is a willingness to back off a little over the six-month period, at least, in terms of sanctions. But in terms of criticism, I think that continues. This is one of the things that Israel has raised red flags about saying, you know, any kind of enrichment can lead to even more enrichment.

So you need less -- a percentage less if you have a peaceful nuclear program for nuclear energy. The President of this administration seems willing to accept that. They're not -- there are some complaints on Capitol Hill. But in any event, I think the six month period stays at least sanction-free. As you know, Congress wants to put more sanctions on them. I'm not sure that will happen.

BLACKWELL: What happens after that, the President said on Friday was 50/50 on the possibility of a strong deal.

So let's turn the page to domestic matters. Good jobs report coming out on Friday -- 203,000 jobs added in November; unemployment rate down to seven percent. You know that cliche -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- that success has a thousand fathers. Who is taking credit for this in D.C.?

CROWLEY: Nobody yet.


CROWLEY: Here's why. Seven percent unemployment is still unacceptable. And in particular, it is the long term unemployed that are of great concern both to the administration folks on Capitol Hill. So it's one of those things where they say this is really good and we're on the road. Things are better at least if you're on the Democratic side. Except for we won't stop until it's better.

Still Republicans are saying well, look, this is better but it's not good enough. So no one's really willing to claim it. But I think we can say already that if this is indeed a full blown economic recovery, we're on the road, no more stops and starts, that the President always gets credit and always gets blame for the economy regardless of how much he's able to turn it one way or the other.

BLACKWELL: All right. Candy Crowley, thank you very much. CROWLEY: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Keep it here, everybody, for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley -- starts at the top of the hour 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


PAUL: So let me ask you, did you catch "The Sound Of Music Live".

BLACKWELL: Sure didn't.

PAUL: I didn't either.

This Thursday night, people on social media have been none too kind, let's say, about the three-hour show and Carrie Underwood's performance. I mean she's got a voice like butter.

BLACKWELL: She's a great singer. Of course, the folks at "Saturday Night Live" they gave their twist on this whole thing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A song is when you put notes together in a certain order and then notes for the noises you make with your mouth, and that's music. Does that make sense?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Let's try it. Doe a deer a female deer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ray, the guy in the bar in the barn that tries to land me.


PAUL: Oh, no. NBC may not care much about all the hate online against "The Sound Of Music Live" though.

BLACKWELL: Yes, because 18.4 million people watched the show and that, of course, is a success. Now their best ratings before that --

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- 2009, the series finale of "E.R."

PAUL: "E.R."


PAUL: That was a long time ago, wasn't it?

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in our meteorologist Jennifer Gray because we've got this storm out there that is now moving. We saw the snow in D.C.


Incredible pictures coming out of D.C. right now. Wintry mix is going to continue to push up the East Coast, the northeast. Look at those pictures right there -- unbelievable. So that will be your story for today.

We've also had some pictures come out of Dallas where, you know, people take pictures of all the frozen things around town. And look at this. Flowers that were frozen --

PAUL: Frozen.

GRAY: -- in Dallas. We had some roses -- we had all kinds of things come in. So some really pretty pictures, I guess, considering the situation there still very, very dangerous. And it's going to continue to be that way until the temperature can finally get above freezing which is going to be in another day or so.

BLACKWELL: It's always pretty when we're looking at it on TV or out a window. But when you have to drive in it --

PAUL: When we have to travel.

BLACKWELL: -- yes, to travel at all, then it becomes dangerous.

PAUL: Don't have to.

Hey Jennifer, thank you so much.

GRAY: No problem.

PAUL: We appreciate the heads up on everything today because everybody is really going to need it for that.

And thank you so much. We hope you make some good memories today.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

"STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts right now. Thanks for being with us this morning.