Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow gave the Third Annual Lecture at the University of the Free State in South Africa in February, 2014. The speech, to which a link is provided here, was entitled: “Forgiveness, Law and Justice.” It focused on forgiveness of people, societies, and nations and the role that law plays in helping with reconciliation after a wrongdoing. In her remarks, Dean Minow told the audience: “The issue of getting along after conflict is urgent.”
The conflict resolution field includes work on apology, on reconciliation, on building societies following violent civil strife. This article in the New York Times Magazine, examines the faces and listens to the voices of people in Rwanda, twenty years after the country’s genocide, a small collection of those commissioned by Creative Court, an arts organization based in the Hague. The Court’s director, Pieter Hugo, has this to say:
“These people can’t go anywhere else — they have to make peace…..Forgiveness is not born out of some airy-fairy sense of benevolence. It’s more out of a survival instinct.”
And, yet, from the Times’ essay: “…the practical necessity of reconciliation does not detract from the emotional strength required of these Rwandans to forge it — or to be photographed, for that matter, side by side.”
As with many reform efforts, some new directions are questionable; in the field of dispute resolution, we’d include the use of public courtrooms and public judges for private proceedings:
After decades of separation, Greek and Turkish Cypriots are working together on projects in order to re-build their severed relationship. They are restoring Greek and Turkish monuments, including mosques, that have deteriorated in divided Cyprus, and as one citizen observed, “Each one understands the pain of the other, which is considered the pain of Cyprus….” And, another, “It can be this peaceful, if everybody wants it.”
Children find themselves in precarious situations that often lead to escalated conflict with their peers. Conflicts arise in the classroom, lunchroom, library, school bus, playground, while standing in line, and any place where kids gather. During adolescence into the developing stages of puberty, many children act out their emotions in the form of teasing, gossip, and physical aggression. If left unchecked, these same behavioral patterns will transfer over into the teenage years, where stiffer competition exists among peer groups. The inability to resolve conflict without resorting violence is symptomatic of youth’s inability to handle confrontation. Teaching youth how to resolve conflict in a peaceful way can help reduce incidents of violence and criminal mischief. Conflict resolution education aims to make that a reality. Read More
It’s difficult enough to understand “the other” but when our news is gerrymandered in a way that we don’t even get to know what “the other” is about, how do we manage in an environment where listening matters?