What Does Reconciliation Entail?
Reconciliation as a conflict handling mechanism entails the following core elements:
a) Honest acknowledgment of the harm/injury each party has inflicted on the other;
b) Sincere regrets and remorse for the injury done:
c) Readiness to apologize for one’s role in inflicting the injury;
d) Readiness of the conflicting parties to ‘let go’ of the anger and bitterness caused by the conflict and the injury;
e) Commitment by the offender not to repeat the injury;
f) Sincere effort to redress past grievances that caused the conflict and compensate the damage caused to the extent possible;
g) Entering into a new mutually enriching relationship.
Reconciliation then refers to this new relationship that emerges as a consequence of these processes. What most people refer to as ‘healing’ is the mending of deep emotional wounds (generated by the conflict) that follow the reconciliation process.
The essence of reconciliation is the voluntary initiative of the conflict parties to acknowledge their responsibility and guilt. The interactions that transpire between the parties are not only meant to communicate one’s grievances against the actions of the adversary, but also to
...................engage in self-reflection about one’s own role and behaviour in the dynamic of the conflict. In other words, in this kind of dialogue, as much as one attributes guilt and responsibility to the adversary for the damage generated by the conflict, one has to also be self-critical and acknowledge responsibility for his or her own role in the creation or perpetuation of the conflict and hurtful interaction.
The aim of such interaction is that, in the final analysis, each of the parties acknowledges and accepts his or her responsibility and out of such recognition seeks ways to redress the injury that has been inflicted on the adversary, to refrain from further damage, and to construct new positive relationships.
Identifying ways in which offenders are assisted to redress the material and emotional damage they have inflicted through self-reflection, acknowledgment of responsibility, remorse, and compensation would be an important step towards establishing an environment of reconciliation.