Truth and reconciliation — as they learned in Guatemala and South Africa — is too important to be left to government, and too dangerous to be left to the innocent. As a process of making a society whole, it must be carefully designed and implemented. The dominant must learn to listen respectfully to the harmed. Evidence must be made public. A record must be constructed.
In Canada, the Anglican, Presbyterian, and United churches have joined with the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian government in conducting a national tour to hear the truth about aboriginal residential schools as prelude to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Simultaneously, the Canadian government is evicting First Nations peoples from their ancestral territories for Olympic tourism development.
In the United States, while Congress is considering an apology to Native Americans for past discrimination, the UN has repeatedly rebuked the US government for refusing to alter its policies that promote ongoing institutional racism.
As we attempt to come to terms with the legacies of colonialism and racism, as perpetrated against indigenous peoples in particular, good faith participants must also attempt to comprehend the contradictory views held by those clinging to denial, as well as to protect the healing process from attack.
Joining together to repair some of the damage done to our souls and our social environment is a wonderful thing. Preventing further damage to civil society is also admirable. Understanding how these noble undertakings mesh approaches wisdom.