Finding truth about the search for truth

Dr. Mitchell’s talks with us about reconciliation and transitional justice were quite moving. I quickly found myself curious and then a bit determined to learn more about the process of reconciliation in a post-agreement environment. Through several case studies of violent conflicts, I kept on looking for some sort of “formula,” like a “how-to” guide to reconciliation. What kind of compensation is necessary? What are the first steps? While Dr. Mitchell demonstrated to us several principles and components of reconciliation, I finally grasped that there is no one-size-fits-all for this delicate process.

This is why learning about cases of reconciliation is important. Each one has its successes that help people heal and shortcomings which are to be taken as lessons for us as we move forward. The story of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is very powerful. I was struck by how hearing the truth from victims, even through a video documentary and thousands of miles away from where it occurred, impacted me. I can only imagine how it affected the victims and people of South Africa. It is a lesson of a collective journey for truth.

I also found interesting the community aspect of reconciliation in the case of East Timor. They used traditional forms of conflict resolution to hear truth from both victims and perpetrators. Afterwards, perpetrators were rehabilitated in a way via community work. This fostered reintegration and healing of the community. I think the world can learn from such practices. Their view the perpetrators was that of human beings.

I question how I can fosterĀ groups to reconcile and heal using whatever culturally appropriate norms work best.