Steps to Reconciliation

I have often been in situations were there has been a strong disagreement and the distancing of parties. I have experienced broken relationships and long-lasting division. I have also witnessed this up close. As a result, I am very interested in and I could even say passionate about reconciliation. How can two parties come together again? What practical steps can be taken to bring reconciliation where there is brokenness? Here are some very practical steps that can be taken. They are by no means easy. However, if we value peace over the privilege of being right, if we long for relationship over rights and unity over being understood, then these are valuable steps we can take to make manifest the unity that we value:
  1. Find some fault within yourself that you can apologize for which may have contributed to the disagreement and division. Even if you initially believe it is totally the other persons' fault, you need to try to meet the other person on the same level ground. It is a very uncomfortable and humbling thing to do. But if you value unity more than your own interpretation of what happened and who is wrong or right, then you will take extreme measures to bridge that gap. Reconciliation rarely happens by waiting for the other person to accept blame. Both parties always sincerely feel they are right.
  2. Apologize exclusively for your attitudes or actions. Don't' expect anything in return but perhaps an acceptance of your apology. Don't expect the other person to apologize. You might even receive a little tongue-lashing. Grin and bear it with grace. It is always the strongest person who takes the weakest position to initiate reconciliation. That means that it takes a great deal of strength… psychological, emotional and spiritual… to apologize first. Often your apology will open up a floodgate of good and healthy conciliatory conversation.
  3. Wait patiently for a deeper shared ownership of the event that caused the division. If the apology repairs the gap, even if superficially, eventually, as your relationship deepens, more truth about the event will unveil itself. Hopefully to both of you. Sometimes I have apologized for something, thinking that the other person was just as at fault or more, only later to realize that I was mostly at fault. However, as time passes, both parties usually learn to share the responsibility, however the weight is distributed, and learn to live in peace and harmony. Perhaps, after sensitive negotiation, any necessary restitutions might even happen.
Wise people understand that guilt in the human race runs very deep and wide. Even in the bible, the wisest and most spiritual people acknowledged their participation in the guilt of the whole world. These discern that as one follows our roots deep into the ground of human history and experience, we are all complicit in the state of this world, including the fractures in human relationships. By the way, these steps apply not just to individuals, but to larger groups and I believe even races and nations. Get fine art prints of my cartoons. Get my fine art. Get my t-shirts. Please join my newsletter.

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