by Dakota Peterson

Today was a tough day. I snapped at a colleague, forced a friend to turn against me, and walked away with guilt after I was unable to treat another colleague’s feelings with care. The irony in creating conflict and division while training in the field of conflict resolution is maddening, hurtful and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It leaves me with many questions.

Are we mature enough to deal with these questions, with these hearts, souls, and lives when we cannot manage a simple discussion without getting aggravated or taking care of the other people in our close-knit group?

This, however, was perhaps the greatest lesson and thing that could have happened after hearing Kemal Pervanic speak. What struck me most, and why my head was clouded, was when Kemal said that a sentence is enough. The time for which a perpetrator is sentenced makes little difference, ultimately because no one wants to be considered a war criminal.

This spoke volumes to me because it shows that Kemal believes in an innate good in everyone, truly feeling that each person has an integral role to play in making the world a better place. This is hard for me to reconcile even now writing this post. It is not something I don’t necessarily believe yet, but something I felt connected to while Kemal spoke and will strive to connect to again. It is surely the harder position to argue, and contentious to say (or admit rather) that we all have a possible perpetrator within us, but it is in that moment that I knew Kemal understood what reconciliation is. A process by which we make amends with the good, the bad, and the ugly and find strength in it for creating the world we want. Because each individual has something to offer. In that I think we all must reconcile constantly and vigorously because of the ever-changing nature of the world around us until it becomes habit to see the world like Kemal.

How can I be a better person? How can I let go of my ego, really care for others, bridge divides, and maintain a collective mindset? How can I enter a state where I naturally forgive, understand without judgement, and bring out the very best in others even if we hold different opinions? Once in this state, I think I will be in a proper place to do the very best work that I can in this field, but also anywhere in life. It is an entire change in the way I see the world, but a change I crave.

Value is at the core of Kemal’s work. Understanding that no matter what one does, there is still absolute value in who they are, what they can give and offer to this world. Even though what you are saying/doing does not align with my opinions, beliefs, or morals, you still hold value and there is little you could do to entirely take that away. This is at the core of Kemal, this is what reconciliation is, and what each of us must achieve.