To speak of reconciliation assumes some prior hostility, or at least some current state of alienation: to be reconciled entails a coming together of estranged parties. And where there is hostility or estrangement, there has been some sort of back-story, of real or perceived wrongs, whether one or many. Most of us, of course, do not let wrongs suffered go lightly. This adds yet more chapters to the drama; and with each chapter of unfolding hostility comes yet more hindrance to resolution.
And yet we do not want or need to take wrongs done too lightly, else we would disparage truth and justice. Reconciliation requires speaking truth, as best the witness is capable. Reconciliation requires light, and light drives out darkness, reveals those dark things hidden in secrecy, which must be shown for what they are, before any real reconciliation worthy of the name can occur.
If human history teaches us anything, surely it teaches us that an intractable hostility affords neither social nor personal goods. Bitterness and resentment—even when justified—poison the well of both self and community. Resentment, say some, is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die; it’s no way to live well.
Thus the possibility of reconciliation—the “will to embrace,” as our guest Miroslav Volf puts it—comes as good news to both the purveyor of injustice and the victim of it. For the former, it provides a possibility to change, so that one may live no longer cutting against the grain of the universe, and for the latter, it provides another kind of possibility, to live free of the long chains of wrongs once done, and tolerated no more.
We look for tokens of such tonight, and we welcome you.