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    ... Session Five - RECONCILIATION Reconciliation is the most difficult of peace processes. It is rarely practiced. The literature on it is sparse, because it
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 2004
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      Session Five – RECONCILIATION


      Reconciliation is the most difficult of peace processes. It is rarely practiced. The literature on it is sparse, because it means each side must give up some of its hopes and dreams.

      As you know, I do not believe we can make peace unless we listen to our enemies without judgment. We need to understand their sufferings and grievances. We must make a safe place for them to speak their hatred, anger, fears, hopes, and truths. For everyone has some truth. I believe Compassionate Listening is one of the radical turns we must take toward reconciliation, which I also believe is the only guarantor of peace. Pursing the practice of it enlarges our awareness of truth.


      This will take time and work and attention to “the other”. Peace may be the goal, but it will never be ours until we practice reconciliation in our personal and public lives. Since this is new to all of us, we will all make mistakes.


      And, if we are serious, we will learn from them.


      I think reconciliation happens when both parties acknowledge the harm they have done -- to us, others, other groups and other nations. After we know the harm we have done and acknowledge it, we can make our amends and ultimately make peace. (I say both parties -- each party may have different timing on this acknowledgement.

      Perhaps each acknowledges and pursues amends at different times. And this is part of “the work”. We must accept it).

      No matter where we practice compassionate listening or for how long a time -- it’s valuable. I learned that whatever we do to implement it takes time. But, it’s fascinating and experimenting with it can teach us a lot about good human relations -- which I think are essential to peace.
      Indeed, I think bad human relations, not bombs and the military, are the causes of war.

      What I see now is to work for reconciliation in every conflict -- large and small -- with the tools we have.


      And, as we proceed we will find, as we Quakers say, “the Way will open.”


      Quotes & Questions for Discussion:


      1. To be a reconciler, according to Adam Curie, “is to consider each side without judgment -- seeking the healing truth of each side. It is an effort to establish toleration, friendliness, good will, and concern. Embracing all these, the listener must also embrace a set of convictions regarding human nature and its goodness. [My experience leads me] to truly trust that this approach is conducive to changes in perception that favour good sense, and, above all, mercy and compassion.”

      . Can you think of a public leader you dislike for whom you might be able to develop toleration, friendliness and good will?

      . What do you feel you need to know to develop these attitudes? How would you know they are true? How would you use them in a situation where push comes to shove?


      2. Now we’re going to try an experiment:

      We’re going to write a love letter to someone whom we truly dislike. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write love letters. We need to write letters to the heads of State, to the president that they will want to read. It we are not peaceful, we cannot contribute to peace.”

      . Write a love letter to anyone in the world you fear or hate, living or dead, and then we will read them aloud.


      3. There is a statement from a book on the Holocaust called Messages from the Dead. It reminds us that we should not “look too long into the fire, but look to that which gives us life.” With it goes this message from Buddhism. The message is that there is a Great Ball of Merit in this world, and that no matter how many horrible things are happening, the world is also shot through with hidden acts of goodness. These secret goods are what keeps the world in balance.

      . In closing, let’s shift our view from the fire to those secret acts of good, and spend the rest of the time sharing some that we know, or that we want to perform.



       In Lak´ech

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