“The Journey on the Road to Reconciliation”-Part 9

Presenting the ninth installment in the series of articles written by our friend, Solomon Rajaram Hariharan, a member of the “Dream team 2012” of “Sri Lanka Unites”( A youth movement for hope and reconciliation)…

In the previous article, we got a glimpse of the definition and types of conflicts. In this article, we would be looking at the vital topic of “conflict transformation”. It is my firm belief that this knowledge would help us in all conflicts ranging from intra-personal to inter-state conflicts. 🙂


Conflict transformation is different from conflict resolution. The latter finds the answer to the issue, while the former not only finds the solution but also ensures that such a conflict does not repeat. Conflict transformation means working such that the cycle of hatred ends. Personal level conflict transformation happens when the individuals realize their mistakes and forgive others. It is more concerned with emotions being acknowledged outwardly. Systematic conflict transformation on the other hand, involves judicial processes and equality. Both these types should happen for conflict transformation to occur.

Education on conflict resolutions aims at providing the learners with skills, awareness and motivation to actively participate in efforts to overcome the cycle of violence. Violence is deliberate and intentional in nature. Direct violence can be seen as physical confrontation or war while indirect violence is when harm is inflicted through social and cultural norms and institutions.
Gandhi used a weapon called non-violence which rejects all forms of aggression and resolves conflicts in a constructive manner. Most commonly we see the natural response to a conflict is fight and aggression. One has to change the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours such that the instinctive response to such conflicts would be oriented toward reasoning and negotiation; the result being reconciliation.

A conflict does not end when one sees a conflict and finds the solution. Reconciliation should take place for conflict transformation to occur. Reconciliation occurs when the adversaries develop a new relationship based on apology, forgiveness and newly established trust. It is also influenced by time, memory, truth, justice, reparation and personal forgiveness. These factors play vital roles in deciding the validity of reconciliation.

The responses to conflicts are usually fight and flight. Fight deals with responding to issues with aggression and violence. This also includes fighting verbally, physiologically or physically. Flight is the opposite which deals the issue by fleeing from the site of the problem. Both these approaches do not solve injustice. This is where ‘insight’ comes to play. Insight is not just passive acceptance but active participation in resolving injustice and oppression. It can be a strategy for personal, social and political change as well as an attitude that can shape the way we live.

Editor’s note- This article would be continued in the next installment where we’ll look closely at the importance of “insight”…

3 thoughts on ““The Journey on the Road to Reconciliation”-Part 9”

  1. Its nice that we are looking at conflict like this. I mean, it would be better to avoid conflict all together. If it's obvious that two groups don't get along, we must look into the why of it, that is looking into the root of the problem.However, sometimes its too late, so you have to work on the reconciliation part of it and Solomon's words really make us understand the how and why of it.

  2. I agree wholly with the fight/flight thing. In fact, it's easy to see how fighting or running away doesn't help. Only mutual understanding and reconciliation will help people to truly get each other and solve a conflict.

  3. Thank you Shailee and Vasika for all your comments on this series! 🙂 We should be grateful indeed! Actually Vasika, we would be looking closely at the term "mutual understanding" in a future post… It's good that you brought it up!

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