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October 18, 2016

No Truth, No Reconciliation

“If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
(Bishop Desmond Tutu)

In order to find your peace, you have to face your conflicts. And this may mean forgiving some people in order to reconcile your differences.

A critical mistake occurs, though, when we skip over the truth in order to get to the reconciliation.

This is what Bishop Tutu says happened in South Africa. In order to rid the nation of apartheid, they held Truth & Reconciliation hearings all over the country. They couldn’t jail everyone who did appalling acts, so they had to find a way to heal. After a while, though, they began to tire of naming all these acts, and they hurried the reconciling.

This was a mistake, Tutu says.

That’s why, when he was asked to help Rwanda heal after its episode of horrific genocide, Tutu helped them focus on truth. They couldn’t jail everyone who committed the atrocities, but they could hold trials, where the accused had to face the spouses they had widowed, and the children they had orphaned. Only then could there actually be healing.

We cannot adequately forgive people without naming, clearly, what we’re forgiving. There can be no reconciliation without truth.

Peace begins with pause,

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