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Political Forgiveness: Lessons from South Africa

Daye, Russell
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.

Russell Daye opens this book with a catalogue of recent and current conflicts and wars in the world. While some conflicts lessened and areas of strife moved toward resolution and peace in the 1990s, in the 2000s other conflicts and strife continue and newly emerge in various parts of the world, especially with respect to issues of terrorism and response to terrorism. Additionally, tension-producing dynamics – for example, population growth, population mobility, and competition for resources – are becoming more and more a part of life. As technology enables larger numbers of people to inflict great harm, it is imperative, Daye asserts, that human beings, communities, and societies find effective methods for ending conflicts and healing wounds. Key themes with respect to ending conflict and healing wounds are the need for forgiveness and means for seeking and experiencing forgiveness between individuals and in communities and societies. In this regard, Daye looks at the meaning and application of political forgiveness – what he describes as “a form of deep reconciliation, a kind of social healing.â€? To explore all of this, Daye holds up for examination the South African experience of dealing with conflict and injustice under apartheid and in the post-apartheid period, especially through the principles, work, and results of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). To extend the lessons learned from the South African experience, at the end of the book Daye applies them to the situations in the Middle East and to Northern Ireland.


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