Religion, Peace and Conflict – FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

Forgiveness

Many of the teachings found in the Religion, Crime and Punishment section are relevant here. Remember, in Christianity forgiveness can be given even if no remorse is shown. In Islam, remorse must be shown by those who have done wrong.

 

Forgiveness is a key religious teaching in both Christianity and Islam. Following armed conflict there are many accounts of the terrible things that were carried out by all sides involved in conflict. At first glance it may seem difficult to understand how individuals can forgive the loss of loved ones or on a larger scale how governments responsible for terrorist acts can be forgiven. However, there are many examples of how forgiveness has followed war:

 

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch girl who helped to save Jewish lives in the Second World War in Holland. She was caught with her father and sister both of whom were killed by the Nazis. She was for some reason released – an act of God she claimed. Later, when giving talks about the Holocaust she met a former Nazi SS guard. As he held out his hand to shake hers all the memories came flooding back. She couldn’t shake his hand despite many times urging others to forgive what had happened. She felt only anger, resentment and bitterness towards this man. She prayed for help as she felt that how she was feeling was wrong and against what her Christian faith taught. She was then able to raise her hand and when she touched the former SS guard she described a current passing between them and felt only love for the man. Corrie interpreted this to mean that rifts in the world are healed by God’s love and as a Christian she should ‘Love thy enemy’ (Jesus)

 

Reconciliation

Reconciliation can take place before conflict spirals into all out war. Bringing sides together could avoid conflict in the first place. However, if war does take place the fighting itself though done for the right reason will not bring lasting peace. A long term plan and reconciliation is required. An example of this is Iraq. Following Saddam Hussain’s capture it has taken many years to stabilize the country with many arguing that Iraq still faces significant problems in establishing peace long after the war itself has ended.

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