1. I negoziati di pace, generalmente, sono incentrati sulle dimensioni politica ed economica. Quale è la Sua percezione della necessità di toccare aspetti più profondi e genuini della riconciliazione e come si può ottenere questo?
We must not overlook the political and economic dimensions of a conflict; but it is absolutely essential that we address the deeper issues. When people feel they have been injured, the wound can fester and become toxic ~ and this can lead to all kinds of difficulties in the future. Political and economic solutions are often tactical, and inspired by the desire of the stronger party to give away as little as possible. This kind of defensiveness is inimical to a true and lasting peace. Both sides have to be ready to meet the other, even if this means compromise, apparent loss to oneself, and an uncomfortable re-assessment of one’s own behaviour.
2. Quali sono le condizioni nelle quali, al di là dell’assicurare gli interessi della parti in conflitto, può essere stabilito un processo incentrato su un senso di equità e dignità?
here is much talk today about “dialogue” but it is not often practised. In the Socratic dialogue, there was no victor; nobody won the argument; instead, all participants realized that even though they had imagined they were experts on the subject under discussion, in fact they knew nothing at all. They would have to go back to the beginning and start again. In order to be an effective means of philosophical enlightenment, Socrates and Plato both insisted, a dialogue must be conducted throughout with gentleness and courtesy; the desire to “win” must be held in check; each person should give his opinion as a gift to the other, who would allow it to change her own preconceptions. Unless one enters dialogue prepared to be changed at a profound level, it will degenerate into diatribe.In the Socratic spirit, a process centred on fairness and dignity requires listening. We are a highly talkative and opinionated society; but we have often lost the art of listening ~ not simply to the external discourse but to the emotions, anger, rage, grief and distress that lie at its root. We should listen to this subterranean level with the same attention as we give to the analysis of a newspaper article, a poem, or a novel, because these undercurrents are an essential part of its meaning. Negotiators should be trained to read rhetoric, to interpret the imagery and symbolism used by protagonists, all of which is just as important as the overt sense.We have to listen in this way to the point of view of our opponents, without interruption, without jumping in to correct their perception of events, but with an open heart and mind, even if it seems to be against our own interests. We have to listen attentively to each other’s version of history ~ not simply using it as grist to our own case. There should be impartial experts present, who are fully apprised of the history of a conflict and are not swayed by a particular point of view. History ~ even one that goes back to the distant past ~ is an essential weapon in any conflict ~ and all history ~even, perhaps especially, our own ~ simply reflects a particular point of view. As any psychiatrist knows, a story may not be factually correct, but it is a true reflection of the narrator’s state of mind, of the injury he has suffered in the past, and the pain, humiliation and outrage that he feels in the present. These should not be dismissed as fictional delusions; they are psychological realities that are just as much a part of the conflict as the external events; unless they are taken fully into account, any negotiated settlement will be purely cosmetic.This requires a heroic effort on both sides. It is never pleasant to confront the way we are seen by our enemies; but it is essential to look for the grain of truth that lies at the heart of what we feel to be a distortion. The stories we tell ourselves are essential to our identity, but they can be inimical to our real interests, that is, a just and lasting peace.
3. Quanto il perdono è essenziale alla dimensione della riconciliazione? Alla radice della Sua cultura politica e/o della Sua fede religiosa quali sono i principi che implicano o escludono il perdono? Quali versi o detti che fanno parte del Suo personale patrimonio spirituale possono, nella sua opinione, avere un significato universale
Reconciliation will always include a degree of forgiveness, but it is a long, painful process. It is never right to tell other people that they must forgive an injury. This can be intrusive, impertinent and even insulting. That is the inalienable privilege of the person who has been wronged. Forgiveness cannot be hurried. There can be no pressure on people to forgive, no requirement that a victim meets somebody else’s schedule. All kinds of healing have to go on at a profound level of the psyche and this takes time. People must not be told that they must “forget” what has happened and start afresh. That is not always possible; and this kind of forgetting can in reality be an unhealthy denial.All religious traditions have formulated their own version of what is known as the Golden Rule, which they say is the test of authentic spirituality: “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you.” Sometimes this is given a positive formulation: “Always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.” The Golden Rule requires that we look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else. It impels us to go beyond self interest and acknowledge our profound interconnection and interdependence. When we look into the eyes of the other, we see ourselves.In terms of forgiveness, the Golden Rule reminds us that just as we would not like other people telling us officiously to forgive another, we must not ask it of other people. It also requires that we take other people’s pain as seriously as we take our own.The traditions also insist that we cannot confine our compassion to our own national, ethnic or ideological group. We have to have, what the Chinese sage Mozi called jian ai, “concern for everybody;” it requires us to love even our enemies; and to honour the stranger and foreigner.
There are many texts in the monotheistic tradition that remind us of the importance of forgiveness.
The Rabbis of the Talmudic age made the Golden Rule, compassion, love of neighbour, and deeds of loving kindness to the centre of religious life and in this spirit insisted on the duty of forgiveness, as a deliberate attempt to mitigate the biblical texts that speak of vengeance and hatred, bringing the more compassionate aspects of scripture to the fore.
The Talmud insists that two conditions are essential for reconciliation and even describes the procedure that should be adopted.
Secondly, it was the duty of the aggrieved party to accept the apology and not nurse his grievance:
The Christian tradition had much the same message: God’s forgiveness of our failings is dependent on our forgiveness of others: “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.” (Matthew 6: 12)
Like Socrates, Jesus forgives his executioners ~ even in the extremity of agony, he puts himself in their position: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 22:34) Instead of making only three attempts at reconciliation, the duty of forgiveness never ends.
And there is the same effort to transcend the more vindictive biblical passages:
A note on the word love: it does not mean emotional tenderness. Jesus is quoting Leviticus, a legal text, where talk about feelings and emotions would be out of place. “Love” was a legal term, used in international treaties. Two kings would promise to love each other. This did not mean that they would become loving friends, but that they would give each other practical aid, be loyal to one another, and seek the best for each other at all times. Like “love”, “forgiveness” is a principled attitude leading to concrete action rather than an influx of feelings, which, by their very nature, are ephemeral.
Islam also preaches the virtue of forgiveness and inveighing against the ancient tribal ethos of Arabia that preached the duty of swift retaliation in order to ensure the survival of the group. The term jahiliyyah, often translated “ignorance” actually means “irascibility” ~ an acute sensitivity to honour an prestige, arrogance and, above all, a chronic tendency to violence and retaliation. Instead the Qur’an urges Muslims to behave with the traditional Arab virtue of hilm, “forbearance, patience and mercy.”They must not hit back when they suffered injury but should be slow to retaliate and leave revenge to Allah. They must be men and women of peace and forgiveness, courtesy and gentleness:
Muhammad was true to these teachings. When the war with Mecca had reached a climax, he adopted a non-violent policy and accepted a highly disadvantageous truce, which seemed to give away all that the Muslims had gained from the conflict. But the Qur’an regarded what seemed a humiliating defeat as a true victory. They had behaved like the Jews and Christians, true children of God
As all the great traditions stress, “forgiveness is better for your souls;” the duty of compassion insists that we take no pleasure in the wrongdoing of others, do not hold grudges, and are willing to make major concessions in order to restore harmonious relations. Holding on to our anger imprisons us in the ego that holds us back from the divine and unless we all learn forgiveness during these polarized times, we are unlikely to have a viable world to hand on to the next generation.
4. Il perdono richiede qualche forma di pentimento da parte di coloro a cui il perdono viene offerto? Il perdono ha condizioni o è senza condizioni?
As the above quotations make amply clear, forgiveness cannot be one sided. It must be reciprocal. Warfare has its own terrible dynamic and, by the time people are ready to come to the table, nobody has behaved impeccably. Often both sides are guilty of atrocities that violate the very principles for which they fought. If forgiveness is enjoined only on one side, any peace will be superficial and there can be no reconciliation. Indeed, as long as people ~ on both sides of a conflict ~ feel that their suffering and pain are not acknowledged but denied by their enemies, forgiveness will remain impossible. There will be no global community, no peace for our world, unless we all recognize that our hands are not clean, that we are all guilty of immense wrong, repent and make the supreme attempt to forgive those who have injured us.
ARA PACIS INITIATIVES FOR PEACE ONLUS
Organizzazione internazionale senza scopo di lucro dedicata alla dimensione umana della pace
Torretta de’ Massimi – Via della Pisana, 600
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