Why a national dialogue and reconciliation meeting?

There shall be a national dialogue and reconciliation meeting on Friday, December 28, 2018 at Cathedral of the Holy Cross chaired by the Church.

Why are we having these talks? It’s because there’s a realisation that things are not well in the country. The peace and stability of our country is under threat. From who and over what?

It’s from the Patriotic Front because of its desire to stay in power at any cost – intolerance, violence, abuse of the police and other law enforcement agencies, the courts; manipulation of the electoral system and the public order Act.

If it is not over these issues, what is the cause of this dissension?

Without correctly identifying the causes of this dissension, the dialogue and reconciliation meeting called by the Church will not achieve much – it will end up being an exercise in futility.

The task of the Church in these talks will be to help the political parties to open difficult issues and nudge them forward in peace, dialogue and reconciliation.

So the first task of these talks must be to identify the areas of dissension. Then move to resolve them – to remove them.

Bob Marley sang in a reggae rhythm, “Which man can save his brother’s soul? (save your brother’s soul) Oh man, it’s just self-control (oo-hoo-oo)
Don’t gain the world and lose your soul (just don’t lose your soul) Wisdom is better than silver and gold To the bridge (ooh, ooh)
Oh, where there’s a will
There’s always a way
Where there’s a will
There’s always a way (way, way, way, way)….”

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

As Martin Luther King Jr observed, “Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

Peace, reconciliation and dialogue do not mean an absence of differences, disagreements or even conflicts; differences, disagreements and conflicts will always be there. Peace, reconciliation and dialogue mean solving these differences, disagreements and conflicts through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.

Dwight Eisenhower said, “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.”

No freedoms can be promoted and defended where there’s a climate of intolerance and violence.
Indeed, nonviolence is the answer to political intolerance and violence that has come to characterise our politics. It’s the best way for us to overcome the injustice and abuses going on in our country without resorting to violence. We must evolve for all our people a method which rejects intolerance and violence.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

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