Building Bridges

In situations of crisis that has resulted in causing injury and human casualty, there is an acute tendency to focus primarily on offenders, thereby, often overstepping those most affected and victimized. In most cases, victims are conveniently forgotten. Incidentally, it is the innocent civilians, in particular the women and children who bear the brunt of violence. History has evidently shown that offenders have obsessively been given the central emphasis of discourse. While it is essentially critical to present the facts of the truth of an issue and to uncover the identities of both offender and victim, it is equally vital to be conscious that over-indulgence on the offenders lead to glorification of a images. Not only does this result in the re-victimization of victims, but it also reveals the presence of misplaced priorities in the efforts to address the true nature of a crisis. 

The need to provide due recognition for victims to be acknowledged becomes apparent in protracted situations because no one can claim innocence. The vicious nature of protracted issues is such that an entire society gets entrenched in a spiral of contradicting actions; thereby acquiring the image of both offender and victim. Hence, when a whole population is guilty in one form or the other, a political process is required to address historical wrongs. One cannot follow a paradigm that only seeks to find solutions to symptoms; one needs to address the deeper issue of conflicts that are responsible for much of today’s human sufferings. 

Inability to deal with historical wrongs provide opportunities that give rise for unresolved feelings to emerge in ways that could disturb present initiatives addressing the crisis, in spite of their own desire for solution. The process of addressing the hurts poses a number of dilemmas. It essentialy is about old dilemmas and problems forgotten that today’s process of dialogue must confront. Hence the primary dilemma concerns, where does one begin? While it is true that one does not start building a bridge from the middle of a river, it is equally true to say that the process begins from both ends. Building bridges does not take place in a vacuum. It needs to occur in concrete situations where pragmatic steps are taken as trust-building measures and in a manner that contributes towards genuinely confronting the core issues of a crisis. 

The process of building bridges is a journey, a journey that involves critical self-criticism, an encounter and a meeting place where truth, mercy and justice meets. Perhaps when truth, mercy and justice meet, it results in what is sometimes referred to as peace. Invariably, it is a journey that may begin with the risk of further injury of hurt, but ends in creating something new, something that upholds all of life.