Can We Reconcile?
Can We Reconcile?
Does forgiveness require conditions, or must true forgiveness be unconditional? What do we mean when we say “mending the tears (修補撕裂)” in the society? Do we need to mend the tears and forgive each other in order to heal trauma? Chelsea Ma from Rainlily (風雨蘭) and Salt from Corrupt the Youth (好青年荼毒室) joined the panel discussion with the Fellows to exchange views on what reconciliation is and what condition is needed for reconciliation to take place at both personal and societal level.
Salt reminded the Fellows that there is no correct answer to any of these questions, and that only through dialogue can we bring out the nuances of the topic. Salt started the discussion by asking which kind of “tear” should be mended, whether forgiveness requires accountability and apology, and whether victims have to forgive in order to move on. Some suggested only the societal divides that are harmful or creating negative impact should be mended, otherwise divides and differences are natural in any society. Some attached more importance to systemic changes arguing mending relationships is an interpersonal matter and should be up to the individual. But is it? Another Fellow asked. Sometimes interpersonal conflict can reflect and in turn contribute to systemic oppression if the “tear” is being institutionalised.
Chelsea, on the other hand, illustrated the possibility of reconciliation at a personal level using the cases of sexual assault victims. Sexual assault cases that entered the legal system is almost a lost cause as the conviction rate is quite low. . The question posed to the fellows was, without justice in the legal sense, can victims reconcile? Chelsea shared the stories of how some victims became advocates for changes in the legal system for better protection of victims’ privacy after experiencing traumatic police and legal procedures. Through this they found consolation, companionship and sense of agency. The story was a testimony that people who we think are powerless could be the strongest force for change, and highlighted the possibility and importance of reconciling with one’s past.
The session ended with the note from Salt and Chelsea that it is important to create conditions for forgiveness and reconciliation instead of imposing it on others, and that sometimes reconciliation is about one’s relationship with oneself.