Tishrei 8 5777
Dear Reconciliation Commission,
I want reconciliation, within my head and my many inner voices, for some of the more complicated relationships among my family and friends. Reconciliation between the growing factions of discord and mistrust in our current conflicts of of values.
How soon before my homeland and my new homeland both require official Reconciliation and Truth Commissions?
How do I set up in my own life? Reconciliation and Truth Commissions, a 20th century version of the oldest tribal tool for truth seeking and peace making, have stepped in post conflict in countries like Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Most recently, Canada established the findings of its commission focusing on First Nations rights. In 2008, setting up the commission’s work, Prime Minister Harper publicly apologized for the role of past governments in administration of the Indigenous people of Canada.
On both practical and symbolic fronts, these commissions, not always a success, mark conscious efforts to take responsibility for abuse of justice, broken bonds and chart new narratives for co-existence and thriving.
There are other gestures that help us get there.
This weekend is Columbus Day Weekend, increasingly rebranded all over the US as Indigenous People’s Day instead. Vermont just became the 23rd state to endorse this important change, a plea for justice, honesty and reconciliation.
Why does this matter? Lakota activist Bill Means explained it to Minnesota Public Radio back in 2014, when Minneapolis adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day: “We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history,” Means told MPR. “He represents the mascot of American colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. And so it is time that we change a myth of history.”
On this 37th day of Prepent’s journey into a more loving and balanced year, I celebrate the truth of honoring the pains, celebrating the diversity, telling truth and inviting more reconciliation into our fractured lives, today, this year, and for many generations to come.
What can each of us take on today, just one more day to go before we enter our atonement, to promote your presence, sacred reconciliation, in our world?
PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”
This story "Prepent Day 37: In Search of Reconciliation" was written by Amichai Lau-Lavie.