The Reconciliation Game

It’s that time of year again when political discourse is reduced to a three syllable name. Geneva. That’s another name for the UN Human Rights Commission.  ‘Sessions,’ to be precise.  It is time to talk about roads walked and roads not taken, progress made and not made.  It is time to talk about reconciliation and its fallen-from-sky twin, ‘justice’. 

So we ask ourselves some questions, the same that we asked ourselves a year ago or rather were thrust in our faces.  The plural refers to Sri Lanka of course although this is less about nation and citizenry than it is about a president and a regime.  However, given that whatever the target of the punch is it falls on people and nation, independence and sovereignty, there’s nothing wrong in using ‘us’ and ‘we’.  We are digressing.  Let’s get back to the questions.

Are we reconciled or are we not?  Will we reconcile, ever, or will we not? 

Different people have different ideas of ‘reconciliation’.  Some thing, for example, that full reconciliation will only be obtained if Eelam (as per the LTTE map) is carved out of this island.  Others think that getting rid of the LTTE amounts to reconciliation: war ends, problem ends. 

Between these there are the doubters, the half-empty-glass seers and the goalpost-shifters.  The problem is that you can’t satisfy any one of these individuals.  They all need a little more or else they want a little less. 

There were people for example who wanted all those who fled the clutches of the LTTE to be allowed to go wherever they wanted the moment the bad news about Prabharakan was announced.  They didn’t give a hoot about landmines or the fact that the LTTE had effectively ensured they had nothing to go to; no homes, no livelihoods, no schools and no hospitals.  Some pooh-poohed the LLRC and later chided the government for not implementing the LLRC-recommendations (as per their preferred/slanted reading of the same).

All these people forget one thing. No one in this world is happy.  The most powerful are besieged by security, the most wealthy are terrified of theft.  The poor want out of poverty, those who suffer from unrequited love pine for the beloved’s embrace.    As for goalpost shifters, the sky is the limit for them.

At some point someone will say wtf.  At some point someone will remember that reconciliation is not coterminous with concession and that it implies reciprocity, that it is a two-way street.  At some point someone will say, ‘hey, you’ve done me wrong, but I haven’t heard you say “sorry”.’  At some point someone will say, ‘You take what I give and you act as though I should thank for taking.’ 

And at that point, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the point of reconciling to the fact of irreconcilability.  Beyond that, if the word is uttered, there’s an F-word that will be spat out.  Beyond that if the justice-predicate is brought up, there will be a stony stare followed by something like ‘Yeah, it’s the injustice that wrecked the R word just now’.  Is that where we are heading?

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