Book Review – Forgiveness and Reconciliation : Religion, Public Policy, and Conflict Transformation
This book is written by a group of experts who explore conflict resolution and emphasizes on the importance of forgiveness. It digs into theology, public policy, psychology as well as social theory. This book is important because it serves to educate the society and the public on the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. Conflicts are inherent and are part of our daily lives. The need for conflict resolution is therefore inevitable and forgiveness being a moral responsibility, acts as the best solution to conflicts. The essence of life is to live harmoniously amongst ourselves and serve our purpose in the best interest of the society. Forgiveness and reconciliation is an essential moral obligation for the society and a very critical aspect in conflict resolution. The writers of this book have discussed forgiveness and reconciliation in relation to religion while at the same time tailoring the content to societal context.
Article nine of this book deals with forgiveness and reconciliation. Definitions of forgiveness, unforgiveness, dispute resolution and reconciliation are the opening statements in article nine. Everett Worthington definitions are justifiable and well-thought because they are drafted in the perspective of international and societal relations thus showing relevance in terms of purpose. According to him Everett, forgiveness is the superposition or the inclination to embrace positive emotions against the negative emotions of hate and resentment.He says that people forgive but one cannot tell whether they have actually forgiven others. He defines forgiveness as an altruistic gift that we give to others. I agree because forgiveness makes us get over the hurt while at the same time creating a harmonious environment which is good for peaceful coexistence. He defines conflict resolution as a way of solving differences between people in a society and that it involves skills of communication as well as negotiation. While people, families, and friends can be able to solve conflicts, it does not mean that problems are eliminated.
Everett in article talks about forgiveness as a personal decision and I agree with him. However,it is important to note that forgiveness is not as easy as the Bible states. God recommends that we forgive and forget, but the emotional nature of human beings makes forgiveness very difficult. Article nine expounds on the importance of managing emotions when we are hurt so that we can be able to forgive and forget as the Bible recommends. Reconciliation as discussed in this article involves another party and therefore is not a personal decision. Reconciliation according to the article is defined as the restoration of trust between two or more parties. It involves forgiveness. Everett explains the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation by attempting to show how one can bridge the gap between forgiveness and reconciliation. I however disagree with the thought that forgiveness precedes reconciliation. In my opinion, the process of forgiveness comes after reconciliation and it is what determines the success of reconciliation process.
Naturally, human beings develop bonds of love and when such bonds are broken, hatred comes in. The consequence of hate is that we tend to objectify those who wrong us and alienate ourselves from them and the longer we hold on to hate and resentment the deeper it eats into us. It is therefore important to learn how to forgive before we get overwhelmed with hatred. Religion is also playing a critical role in justifying and encouraging the need for forgiveness and peaceful coexistence. This book is a masterpiece given the in-depth analysis and scholarly input from its writers. Research to promote forgiveness and reconciliation has been done to help reduce the act of unforgiveness.The acrostic REACH is used to explain the five step model for forgiveness.
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