Reconciliation: An Inevitable Reality

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THE most inevitable and certain reality is the need for tolerance (politically, socially and religiously) and the quest for reconciliation. Forgiveness and reconciliation are mutually inclusive values. Forgiveness thus should not be an occasional act, but rather a permanent attitude, as eloquently stated by Mahatma Ghandi. There is no handy roadmap for reconciliation.

There is no short cut or simple prescription for healing the wounds and divisions of a society in the aftermath of sustained violence or oppression.

Creating trust and understanding between former enemies is a supremely difficult challenge. It is, however, an essential one to address in the process of building a lasting peace.

Examining the painful past, acknowledging it and understanding it, and above all transcending it together, is the best way to guarantee, that it does not – and cannot – happen again.

Reconciliation is an attitude or relation, and dwelt upon the fact that it is a mutual affair. This is so obvious that it should need no arguing, yet since so many have denied that God required to be reconciled unto sinners, we must perforce dwell upon it. Where one has wronged another and a break ensues between them, then just as surely as “it takes two to make a quarrel” so it takes two for a friendship to be restored again.

If the one who committed the injury confesses his fault and the other refuses to accept his apology and forgive him, there is no reconciliation effected between them; equally so if the injured party be willing to overlook the fault, desiring peace at any price, yet if the wrong-doer continues to bear enmity against the other, the breach still remains. There must be a mutual good-will before a state of good relations prevails.

Some consider reconciliation as an impossible dream which ideally might become the lever for a true transformation of society. For others, it is to be gained by arduous efforts and therefore a goal to be reached through serious reflection and action.

Whatever the case, the longing for sincere and consistent reconciliation is without a shadow of doubt a fundamental driving force in our society, reflecting an irrepressible desire for peace. And it is as strongly so as the factors of division, even though this is a paradox.

However, reconciliation cannot be less profound than the division itself.

The longing for reconciliation and reconciliation itself will be complete and effective only to the extent that they (the subjects) reach-in order to heal it-that original wound, which is the root of all other wounds: namely “the past”. Invariably, one cannot undo the past, but the very past can inform future conduct.

For the leadership, the ultimate challenge is to interpret reality rationally (not selective rationality), and to use authority vested (by position or electorate) to advocate tolerance and reconciliation in its appropriate context.

In building a society, failure is inevitable, but the strength of ones character lies in the ability to accept failure and to continue trying to do better. In conclusion, “failures are those frightful things that you see when you keep your eyes off the goal”

Ulrich Freyer is a Lecturer in the Department of Public Management at the Polytechnic of Namibia.

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