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Today is the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa.

The only country that dedicates a public holiday to promote social cohesion. And to celebrate our nation’s unity, following a divided past.

The verb reconcile is from the Latin words re, meaning “again,” and concilare, meaning “to make friendly.”

In accounting terms, reconciliation means to compare two sets of financial records. To check that the figures are correct. To establish its completeness.

Some companies reconcile their transactions every day. It is best practice in certain industries.

Daily reconciliation allows one to identify minor errors early. Before they become major blunders with far-reaching consequences.

In human terms, the act of reconciliation is about making one view or belief compatible with another. It is the precursor to peace.

Shouldn’t we be reconciling for more than one day a year?

Renias and I discussed a few practical steps to achieve unity – based on our journey together.

Here they are:

  1. Acknowledge your biases and differences of opinion. This requires robust self-assessment. An honest reflection of your most deep-seated feelings. Everyone has prejudice thoughts about other groups.
  2. Get uncomfortable. Be prepared to travel outside of your physical, emotional, and cultural safe zone. Have a difficult conversation. Visit their home, church, or cultural event. To fully understand takes courage. It’s often inconvenient.
  3. Be vulnerable. Be open to the possibility of being criticized. Freely apologise or accept an apology. Don’t allow the fear of reprisal to hinder the process. A defence strategy is an obstruction to reconciliation.
  4. Create clarity about your expectations and limits. Communicate what you will do to reconcile. This helps to define your position and intended actions. It frees both parties.
  5. Follow through. Immerse yourself in the life and culture of another person or group. Learn the language, for example. And be aware that token gestures will be interpreted as such.

Keep moving forward. It’s never perfect.

As a guiding question this Reconciliation Day ask yourself; do you want to be right, or do you want to be free?

Please comment if you have had experiences of reconciliation that you would like to share.

For more on reconciliation, read our latest book Changing a Leopard’s Spots

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