1/23/2014

Palimpsest: Reconciling Peoples - Communal Forgiveness

Reconciliation Park, Mankato

Matthew 18:15-22


Readings:
It is no coincidence that in the years since Mandela’s release so much of Africa has turned toward democracy and the rule of law. His utilization of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonization, and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance. Countries, like people, must acknowledge the trauma they have experienced, and they must find a way to reconcile, to make what was broken whole again.
Blue Earth County Library, Mankato
That night, as I watched Mandela walk past me, I understood that his story, the long walk to freedom, was also Africa’s story. The indignation that once permeated our continent has been replaced by inspiration. The undercurrent of pessimism resulting from the onslaught of maladies — wars, coups, disease, poverty and oppression — has given way to a steadily increasing sense of possibility.
It wasn’t just Nelson Mandela who was transformed during those years of his imprisonment. We all were. And Africa is all the better because of that. — http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/opinion/mahama-mandela-taught-a-continent-to-forgive.html?_r=0


Mankato 38, Reconciliation Park, Mankato
 God does have a sense of humor. Who in their right minds could ever have imagined South Africa to be an example of anything but the most ghastly awfulness, of how not to order a nation’s race relations and its governance? We South Africans were the unlikeliest lot and that is precisely why God has chosen us. We cannot really claim much credit ourselves for what we have achieved. We were destined for perdition and were plucked out of total annihilation. We were a hopeless case if ever there was one. God intends that others might look at us and take courage. God wants to point to us as a possible beacon of hope, a possible paradigm, and to say, “Look at
South Africa. They had a nightmare called apartheid. It has ended. Northern Ireland (or wherever), your nightmare will end too. They had a problem regarded as intractable. They are resolving it. No problem anywhere can ever again be considered to be intractable. There is hope for you too.” – Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness

Reconciliation Park, Mankato
Some details of the conflict have been willfully buried or forgotten, by both sides of the war. The Dakota conflict came in 1862, which historians have described as Lincoln’s “darkest year” during the Civil War...In large part, the narrative of mass execution in Mankato was lost in the United States’ struggle to preserve the union. Lincoln himself was distressed at the speed of the military tribunals that condemned 303 men, and his decision to commute most of the sentences was politically dangerous. But he said, “I could not afford to hang men for votes.” The 265 Dakota Indians Lincoln spared from the gallows were either fully pardoned or died in prison. Modern Mankato, once a prairie outpost, is now a city of 37,000, where a modest downtown struggles for survival, competing against outlying strip malls and chain stores. The only reminders that 38 Indians died here is a Dakota warrior statue and plaque outside the local library. The location of the actual scaffold is now called Reconciliation Park.
 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/us/14dakota.html?pagewanted=all
Reconciliation Park, Mankato

Questions:
· Does the forgiveness experienced in South Africa and other places give you hope that this is possible in other situations?
· Where is reconciliation possible in our culture? What could we do to support it? What are we doing to support it?
· How does your faith guide you on this issue?
Mankato, MN






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