'Reconciliation is about taking people to a place where they've never been' This is more or less the statement from Robert Schreiter, which stuck in my head as I reflects on a recent international conference on Human Identity and reconciliation. Often we think of reconciliation between people as a journey of going back to where we were- before the conflict or fall-out. Possibly we want to re-live a time of harmonious utopia. When we are however honest with ourselves, we realise that this is simply a reconstruction of the past. Our memories are never innocent- we allways construct and usually it's the powerful whose story dominates. Between men and women, it's the men who turned out to be strong, the winners and the leaders or between the elders and the children or young people, we simply don't hear so many stories of the young, and so forth.
The question is how we get healing of our memories where we start to imagine new identities, healed identities. This is crucial because it is only healed people that can engage in a reconciled future together. Where a person's story and digity is still denied and still being told by others, there is no chance of reconciliation. So it makes sense to say that reconciliation is not a journey back in time to a place where we were- it is taking us to a place where we've never been before. It is an imagined space, a space where we are new, still learning a new language, trying out new ways of living together.
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