1 Oct 2016 The term reconciliation
is used in different ways when dealing with conflicts between
individuals, groups, or States. When dealing with armed conflicts,
the term reconciliation is often used as a necessary process
after the end of the armed conflict phase, as a form of healing
so that the armed conflict will not start up again and that recognition
be given to past suffering.
However, reconciliation is necessary at different stages of a
1. At the first signs of tensions where armed violence
is potential but not inevitable. There may be a possibility to
return to normal and an effort made to work on the
causes of the tensions.
2. During the armed conflict, as a step to deescalate
the violence with temporary ceasefires, efforts to open doors
to negotiations in good faith and often to widen the circle of
parties involved, to make new voices heard.
3. Currently, the term is most used to deal with a situation
when the armed conflict has stopped, often with a formal peace
agreement. Often the term is used as part of a transitional
justice process or dealing primarily with psychological issues
of personal or group trauma.
Somewhat along the lines of the Transcend University Press book Reconciliation:
Clearing the Past, Building the Future, the Conciliation
Resources builds on case studies of conflicts it has studied
and published in its Accord series. Here, there is
analysis and reflection on four conflicts at different stages
of resolution: the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, Colombia, Mindanao-Philippines,
and Northern Ireland. In each situation, there is a need to create
social trust and transforming damaged relationships, a process
of reweaving the social fabric. Such efforts are multi-faceted,
and there is no one shape fits all possibility.
Nevertheless, there are, I believe, common elements that can
be structured around two themes myths and rituals. There
has just been signed a peace agreement in Colombia so we will
be able to follow the reconciliation process and difficulties
in real time. As David Bloomfield writes in the concluding
reflections on these four case studies,
Reconciliation is about rebuilding broken relations and
relationships. If that sounds soft, or non-contentious, it most
certainly is not
Reconciliation is the process of rebuilding
damaged relations, without which society will not function properly
again in any of its dimensions: politics, social interaction,
justice, economy, education everything. It means dealing
with the past to construct an agreed future. This involves examining
past relations and behaviors, acknowledging them and their consequences,
and coming to terms with them and with each other in such a way
as to share new relations for that agreed future
is a central dimension of reconciliation. But reconciliation
is essentially about the future: moving from a divided past towards
a shared future. And so it means, at its core, building relations
for the future.
The divided past is the major character of the Piscean Period
symbolized by the two fish swimming in opposite directions. The
astrological age is of some 2000 years, and the Piscean Period
is usually dated with the birth of Jesus. Thus we are now in
a unique time in the history of the earth: a new cosmic cycle
the Age of Aquarius is just beginning. Consequently,
enormous changes in every area of life will take place. Above
all, a great change in consciousness will gradually unfold, a
shift in the spiritual development of humanity. The attitudes,
institutions and policies that were adequate and appropriate
for the Piscean Period are now outdated and fast fading as we
move into the Age of Aquarius. At the start of the Age of Aquarius,
the crystalized conflicts of the Piscean Period are more open
to being resolved.
But as Sri Aurobindo has said The end of a stage of evolution
is usually marked by a powerful recrudescence of all that has
to go out of evolution such as narrow nationalism and sectarian
religious divisions. The State with its sharp frontiers, here
is us, over there is them is now giving way to a flow,
overlapping responsibilities as among the European Union, the
national States, and the local authorities with a goal-based
emphasis on tasks to be accomplished. Yet we see the powerful
recrudescence of all that has to go out of evolution with
the break up of the Yugoslav federation into new States or the
Georgian-Abkhaz division. These are the last roses of summer
the harsh colors of a sun set.
Likewise, the two ideological-religious movements of the Piscean
Period, Christianity often linked to the birth of Jesus, and
the later Piscean Period ideology, Islam, are fast fading with
the shift from external revelation to a philosophy of the Inner
Light, the Higher Self, the Kingdom of God is within. Yet we
also see the sharp colors of the sun set with the revival of
narrow religious movements. These will be short-lived but can
be strong in the moment. The passage to the Age of Aquarius is
conditioned by the way in which the previous age the Piscean
Period is released: whether gently or violently, with
compassion or animosity, with courage or fear.
Thus clearing the past and reconciliation require
explaining to all those caught up in the divisions of the past
that the actions and suffering of the past were part of a larger
and longer astrological cycle, but that the cycle is now over.
One must bless the past for the good it did, for the ideas it
brought, but that its time is now over. As winter moves into
spring in the yearly cycle, we move into a new 2000-year cosmic
cycle, and we leave behind the past as the tree drops its old
leaves for the new.
It is useful to develop new rituals to symbolize the new Aquarian
Age. Aquarius has the image of pouring water for all. Thus Aquarian
rituals will concern the flow of water or the pouring of water
to give new life. This symbolism would lend itself to a ritual
of tree-planting among formerly divided groups. The image of
the roots, branches, and leaves of a tree have been used in the
past, a symbol of the tree of life, rooted in the earth, its
leaves turned toward the sun and heaven. The pouring of water
on a newly-planted tree can serve as a ritual of this symbolism.
Tree-panting is also useful to limit global warming so it is
of value even for those who do not believe in astrological cycles.
There are different approaches to reconciliation, and I did not
see any guides to the Age of Aquarius in the bibliography, but
I am sure that this Conciliation Resources study will be of use
and will encourage those who have not read the original case
studies to do so.