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Riflessioni sul Perdono, sulla Dignità e sulla Riconciliazione

Nilton Bonder

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?

What we call peace is in fact not so much a state or condition, but more of a common consciousness. Such a consciousness would allow, by way of individual good sense and collective justice, the development of an era of consensus regarding rights and duties. Peace is thus the moment when the limits of what can be justly given and received are crystal clear to all parties in any interaction. When this becomes a common awareness, people will realize that peace does not depend on the immediate execution of justice, but on justice being fully recognized per se.
In other words, the world can reach peace, before the justice that everyone recognizes is actually carried out. This is in itself a process and will create a History of its own. As long as satisfactory levels of integrity are attained in personal interaction, discord in the name of heaven will proliferate, in an attempt to give form to this new History. For this to happen, we still need to refine our technology of peace.
Over time, there has been progress: jurisprudence, citizenship, democracy, even ecology. But all these advances function by way of a technology that does not manage to take in the other. It is in this sense that our technology is so archaic and corrupt.
To come to this new technology, we will have to invest in programs governing not the external world, but the internal world. These will be consciousness-raising programs about health, education, disarmament, and domains of authority.

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?

One important condition to add has to do with regulating “authority wards“. There should be not only courts that judge, but courts that appoint different authorities to judge other than magistrates of conventional justice. By doing that we will increase the sensitivity to determine the actual authority of judges. As we perceive limitations on putting oneself in another person’s place and judging him from his own position, we open space for coming closer to others.
There is a story about the priests from a certain medieval town who sought out the king to complain that the tower of the synagogue was higher than that of the church. The king answered, “I govern the breadth and width of the land. As for height, there is another Ruler“.
The king’s wise answer encouraged peace. In recognizing different areas of authority, the king was sensible, refusing to make judgments in areas that were not his domain. This kind of consciousness helps us to decide when we should have an opinion, and even when we should seek the counsel of other people and institutions.
Peace is a process where we must not only abdicate taking the law into our own hands, but also into our own hearts and minds. The lover of peace creates an internal auditing process, to supervise the truth of his intentions and the authority he should or should not have to judge others.

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

A process of “negative emotions” is a process that has gone on the wrong direction. To pursue the same path of hurt trying to fix it or undo it, may be, in certain cases counterproductive.  Instead of having to forgive as a move towards the other, a generous act or an act of donation, maybe it could be perceived from the other end, namely,  as an act of redemption that presents gain instead of cost. “You will find no other vessel as safe for a blessing, as peace!” (Talmud).
Rarely do we realize that a blessing needs a vessel.  If we stop to think about what the Talmud tells us, we should first understand that a blessing is a general form of grace that life or the Eternal One (depending on the language you feel most comfortable with) brings us.  In order to perceive this grace, we must have special means of keeping it close.  This is because a blessing is fluid.  Grace in itself can be concrete and real, but its perception – the blessing – is fluid.  Many people live in the midst of innumerable graces, without realizing they are blessed: “Here is the bread and here is the water – but if there is no peace, there is nothing!” (Sifra).
In order to make use of even matter itself, an internal posture of spirit called peace is needed.  Without peace, we cannot perceive any sort of gratitude that, ultimately, is the element of pleasure, of well-being, present in the dimension of life.  A person who has no peace has no receptacle to collect blessings, and lives with a scarcity of gratitude.  This absence is filled with non-gratitude, i.e., envy.  The person who envies, is in fact someone who lacks the means to collect the blessings that fall all around him.  His envious despair is being able to watch others around him making use of the blessings, without understanding why they are not in his reach, too.

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?

To pull back from a feud, it is necessary not only to understand an adversary’s human nature, but also to recognize the true magnitude of a misunderstanding. An impartial observer of a violent display in traffic will probably be shocked at how imprisoned the players become in the universe of their little incident. From another car, it is possible to see how disproportionate and ridiculous the contenders’ attitudes are.
The rabbi of Ger explained, “We read in the commentaries on Cain and Abel that they fought because both wanted to build a sacred temple to G-d on their land. Since then, this is the excuse that is given for any sort of bloodshed, war, or hatred. It is always said that the conflict is in the name of a holy cause.

Every time we get involved, even in the most insignificant dispute, we believe our cause is sacred. We do not want to let things pass unchecked, because we are acting in the name of things that are very serious and important. In fact, almost every time this happens, we are acting under the direct and absolute command of a wounded ego. Realizing this means beginning the disarmament process, of lowering one’s guard, and finally, of “un-hating”. This last phase, known as “sweetening”, is the last stage of an effort to tame hatred.Bal Shem Tov had this to say about the subject:
We find the phrase, ‘Who is strong? He who tames his passions (Ethic of the Ancestors) ‘. The strong can be thus described: ‘A guard saw that a thief was preparing to rob a house; he shouted and made movement such that the thief was frightened and fled. Another guard, who heard about this, prepared a trap. When the thief entered his house, he captured him and chained him.’ A good man, when assaulted by a bad and violent impulse, frightens it. A just man, when assaulted by the same impulse, tames it, masters it, and redirects it in the service of G-d.

Learning not to scare off evil and to use it, is important, because the potential it carries is too valuable to discard. The impulse must be imprisoned and tamed. Only then can it be sweetened, so we can learn from the process.
Once we allow ourselves to seek sweetening, this reveals itself to us in multiple forms and possibilities. We thus discover, in the search for sweetness, that human nature reveals others’ points of view, which in turn open the way for a grounded view of conflict, which itself allows a greater understanding of human nature. The act of sweetening is totally inter-linked. Reb Bunam gives a very good example of this, in speaking of a chess match.
“Reb Bunam wanted to open the window to the dimension of sweetening, for a man who was very stubborn and very weak. So, he invited him for a game of chess, and right at the start, the rabbi made a move that was obviously foolish, without letting go of his piece. When the man was just about to move to take advantage of his move, the rabbi excused himself and changed his move. Soon, the rabbi once again intentionally made a bad move. But this time, his partner refused to allow him to change.

The rabbi responded: “You refuse to excuse two false moves in a mere game of chess and yet you expect the Eternal One to pardon you, no matter how many transgressions and mistakes you make in your life?
His partner understood the message.
In the chessboard laboratory, Reb Bunam was able to bring in the many connecting channels of the sweetening elements. He put a confrontation into perspective, by revealing to the other man his point of view of what was going on during their interaction. At the same time, he associated his “faults” to those of his game partner and the human condition itself.
Perhaps the secret of undertaking a successful sweetening lies in the fact that a sincere move in the direction of another person is likely to meet up with the other, the “adversary” in the middle of the path. What appeared impossible to swallow, a substance so bitter it would paralyze us, turns out to be attainable, as long as the other party is also dynamic and creates conditions for “re-seasoning” relations. Like in a tunnel where each person digs from his side, the union of two adversaries is faster than expected, when things happen heart to heart.
Concerning activities for a forum on reconciliation, I would have sessions where groups that are antagonistic to each other will present their basic myths on fear on a generic fashion, not related to any particular conflict. Grudge and bitterness are nestled in fear, if we could hear the fear of the other, that is different from our fear, maybe it could make us realize that most aggressiveness and violence are not as personal as we have originally taken.

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