How to facilitate reconciliation and resilience

A European handbook for projects



Reconciliation as a multidimensional term combines the intrapersonal, the interpersonal, intracultural and intercultural aspects of a transcultural framework; it also combines different approaches: an ecumenical one, a sustainability oriented one, a resilience oriented one, an artefact oriented one, and others.

Reconciliation is a complex term, and there is little agreement on its definition.

This is mainly because reconciliation is both a goal – something to achieve – and a process – a means to achieve that goal. A great deal of controversy arises from confusing these two ideas. This Handbook focuses very firmly on the process. The goal of reconciliation is a future aspira tion, something important to aim towards, perhaps even an ideal state to hope for. But the process is very much a presenttense way of dealing with how things are – building a reconciliation process is the means to work, effectively and practically, towards that final goal – and is invaluable in itself.

A second source of complexity is that the process of reconciliation happens in many contexts – between wife and husband, for example, between offender and victim, between friends who have argued or between nations or communities that have fought. The focus of this Handbook is on reconcilia tion after sustained and widespread violent conflict. Typically, we have in mind what is often called a post-conflict situation: war has ended, a settlement has been reached, and a new regime is struggling to construct a new society out of the ashes of the old. Part of that task of construction is to build better relationships between the previously warring factions. Reconciliation, thus, is an over-arching process which includes the search for truth, justice, forgiveness, healing and so on. At its simplest, it means finding a way to live alongside former enemies – not necessarily to love them, or forgive them, or forget the past in any way, but to coexist with them, to develop the degree of cooperation necessary to share our society with them. Following the International Handbook of reconciliation, this attitude mostly concerns situations after wars or armed conflicts, such as in Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Cambodja or South Africa.

The following education handbook focuses on the preventing character of reconciliation education by demonstrating how individuals and groups of pupils, students, and adults can prevent stereotyping, discrimination, and how they can remember in a constructive and transcultural way in order to facilitate resilience and reconciliation oriented attitudes, which are able to prevent armed conflicts by coping with them in a non-violent way.

As a backward-looking operation reconciliation, indially, prevents, once and for all, the use of the past as the seed of renewed conflict.consolidates peace, breaks the cycle of violence and strengthens newly established or reintroduced democratic institutions, brings about the personal healing of survivors, the reparation of past injustices, the building or rebuilding of non-violent relationships between individuals and communities

As a forward looking learning process, reconciliation characterizes the transformation from violent towards non violent attitudes, from antipathy towards empathy and sympathy, from acknowledging and recognizing towards healing wounds by an accepting atmosphere and by sharing of experiences.

Therefore – following the international handbook – education for reconciliation should promote an understanding of the causes, consequences and possible resolutions of conflict and estrangement on the personal,social, institutional and global levels; it should introduce and develop the skills necessary to rebuild relationships torn apart by violent conflictm and develop an understanding and accommodation for the differences that may exist in experience, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs and so on. It must be rooted in fundamental values such as respect, dignity and equality, be concerned with issues of pluralism in general, and address specific issues of culture, identity, class and gender.

In this context, such education should acknowledge that memory can be manipulated, but can also be a powerful instrument for achieving reconciliation. Therefore, evaluating different kinds of remembrance can prove the philosophical words of George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Source: Franzenburg, G. (2016). Erinnertes äußern (expressing memories). Europa-Forum Philosophie 65/, 85-100