The concept of reconciliation refers to the restoration of relationships, and in many cases, it incorporates justice, forgiveness and accommodation between conflicting parties. However, the key question that peace builders should ask themselves is that can we have justice and forgiveness at the same time? Are they contracting with one another? Can people forgive their enemies for what they have done? For instance, as Dr. Cole said, resolving religious conflict and achieve reconciliation is complicated because the definition of reconciliation across religions is different – mercy for Buddhist; truth for Hindu; justice for Muslim; and forgiveness for Christian. Then, how can we reach a common ground for reconciliation?
Dr. Cole also mentioned an interesting “reconciliation” for the victims in Aceh province in Indonesia, after the tsunami struck in 2004. There were two groups fighting for years and the conflict was deeply rooted in the cultural and religious difference between Aceh and much of the rest of Indonesia for a long time. However, they achieved “reconciliation” after the tsunami, because all the infrastructure, land, and houses in the area were destroyed – they had nothing left. Both conflicting groups came and worked together to rebuild the affected zone. Their change was historical because both of the groups had never come together; but then the disaster reunited them together.
I found it interesting because their “reconciliation” did not match the concept of reconciliation at all. Though, they have restored their relationships for a short period of time, the process did not incorporate any justice or forgiveness from either ride. Rather, they were together to rebuild their lives.
So, without experiencing life-and-death situation, can two conflicting groups forgive one another with other peace-building process?