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In Western societies, we place a significant emphasis on education as equating to knowledge, this mindset lends itself to learners feeling as if they’ve mastered a topic merely by attending college or reading a book. Additionally, it lends to the idea that if I have heard something, or been told something, I also understand the experience of it. This is not an accurate representation of reality.

Reconciliation, according to the English usage, speaks about restoring friendly relations, making differing views compatible and consistent, and creating harmonization. For our purposes, we will focus on the aspects of harmonization, calling to mind differing notes that blend well into a whole, and beautiful song. We are similarly hoping for a society of differing perspectives that blend well into a whole, beautiful country and world.

The foundation for reconciliation is hearing the experience of the other. Reconciliation is achieved by connecting to the impact of experiences. I must be able to sit down with another and hear the impact of their experiences. When I truly hear the terror, joy, discouragement, courage, tiredness, and excitement in another’s story, I have truly connected with them, and have also begun to build the foundation upon which reconciliation can stand. Essentially, I need to experience, from their testimony, what they experienced. This is where harmonization begins to take place.

So how does our years of education fit into this equation of working towards reconciliation?

Simply put, education can help us ask better questions.

Consider the equation: Education + (Experience x Number of individuals encountered x Willingness to learn) = The foundation upon which reconciliation can be built

According to what I’ve been reading, the perspective of the victim is a crucial and often overlooked aspect of reconciliation. (It’s messy and hard to deal with! It would be easier to deal with the perpetrator in a way that looks best on the surface and then just be done with the whole mess.) But the perpetrator has already made themselves known, it is when the victim is given a voice, that peace and justice is truly given a chance to survive, in a concrete and lasting way.

Okay – So that is what I’m reading – How do I move from education to foundation for reconciliation?

If we follow my goofy and oversimplified equation, it nevertheless points in a direction of progress. I should use my education to ask better questions. This would look like listening for, hearing, and asking educated questions around the experience of discrimination. Education and reading help me recognize problems, being intentional with relationship helps me enter a space where someone might be willing to share their experience, and my willingness to learn from their experiences will be what creates the foundation for lasting reconciliation.

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