New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Family Talk

April 11, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Robert C. Koehler

Exploring the Alchemy of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

by Robert C. Koehler

“Fifteen men beat us and raped us,” the young woman said. “I was 12. There was one man I knew. My uncle. That man I still see around — whenever I see him I feel afraid.”

This was during Sierra Leone’s civil war, 11 years of hell that ended in 2002 but in point of fact hasn’t really ended, because the survivors, their culture shattered, their sense of community broken, were left in a state of seemingly unbridgeable mistrust of one another. More than 50,000 people died in the war. Many more were crippled and disfigured; thousands of children were abducted and turned, on pain of death, into child soldiers — into murderers. This was the war that popularized the term “blood diamond.”

When the truce between government and rebels was signed, part of the agreement was amnesty. Those who took part in the brutality simply went home. So did those who had fled to refugee camps. (more…)