I glanced at the calendar and noticed that April second is Reconciliation Day. My first thought was this “holiday” should be openly celebrated in every nation on Earth. Reconciliation is a much neglected, much needed activity in human relations.
I did a web search to find out who first came up with the idea for Reconciliation Day and more about it. There was very little background at the several sites I checked. Most just acknowledged that the day was set aside to patch relationships and to reestablish friendly relations. The “holiday” is also, allegedly recognized worldwide. That’s all there is.
I guess we have to rely on our own techniques. The lack of information about Reconciliation Day and our ignorance of its very existence is very telling in today’s messed up world. At a time when nations are rattling sabers for international conflict; domestic political/religious factions are at each others throats; and global climate change goes largely neglected, we need some major reconciliation work as soon as humanly possible.
Blame games and finger pointings have never worked to solve any problems. Every wisdom tradition long ago disavowed us of the notion that shifting blame and scapegoating are ways to make for peaceful relations. At some point, we need to cast aside our pride and make honest efforts to resolve our many conflicts. This holds true for interpersonal relationships, too.
When things have gone terribly wrong on a personal or global way, serious reconciliation must happen. It should be more than shaking hands and saying we’re sorry. Certainly, a sincere, humble apology is the first peace offering that is required.
Reconciliation means that we don’t just give lip service and look for an easy way out. Reconciliation is a true expression of remorse and an honest dedication to change behavior and move forward.
On the level of friendship, there might be some point of contention. Perhaps one party borrowed money but didn’t repay the debt. Possibly a confidence was betrayed. Maybe one friend neglected to provide needed comfort to the other one after the death of a loved one. Certainly, a real reconciliation must take place in order for the friendship to survive.
The effort must be meaningful to the wronged party. The action must be thought through carefully and thoroughly. A person must devote time and energy to restore the relationship. One must use the issues that caused the rift as a template to determine the type and amount of apology and repair needed.
The wronged party has some options, too. If the mistake was minor you can move forward by saying you were hurt then requesting an apology so the disagreement doesn’t fester and cause a real dysfunction of the relationship.
Regardless of the type of relationship, the apology must be completely sincere and the offending party must take ownership of the wrongful action. There can be no spreading of blame. Never use words like “if”. First and foremost, the person offering the apology should never make the apology an explanation of their behavior. The wronged person deserves to have his feelings affirmed. The offender should avoid talking about herself and constructing an alibi. There should never be a feeling of entitlement by the person who did the wrongful act.
Likewise, the wronged party has some things to keep in mind. When the sincere apology is offered, it is time to bring the conflict to resolution and not be a continuing issue. The apology and retribution must not be reopened. The issue shouldn’t be brought up again and again. Bygones must be bygones. If a different disagreement happens in the future, the forgiven incident must not be dragged out as a mental weapon. In other words the apology should be accepted sincerely and true forgiveness needs to happen.
Because reconciliation can be difficult, it must be done honestly and carefully. Both parties need to make sincere efforts to renew and heal the relationship. We can also project the same requirements onto difficulties between political/religious factions within a nation and disputes between nations.
Is the time ripe for reconciliation? Today is the day to set it in motion.