Issues Hidden within Issues
Translation by Ms. Haruka Osada (Simon Fraser University)
The Republic of Rwanda is located in the central Africa.
The Rwandan Genocide in 1994 was a pure tragic. There is no excuse or consolation to be given. Today, in 2012, there are still many wounds yet to be healed.
The Genocide itself had ended in July, 1994. However, the survivors have continued to suffer from the experience. Especially, the reconciliation between the Hutu and the Tutsi is considered as the most important issue to many Rwandans. Although the effort for “reconciliation” has been made through many political, formal policies and ceremonies, the true psychological reconciliation is still to be achieved; this is considered to be the most important task for Rwanda’s reconstruction.
In fact, the Rwandan Genocide is not something to be surprised about in their history. The Genocide in 1994 was a result of escalating slaughters and conflicts between different nationalities within the country. If we look at the history, we can predict that this tragic will recur in the future unless a true reconciliation is achieved. In today’s Rwanda, conflicts among people can occur anytime. For both peacebuilding and peacekeeping, a psychological, true reconciliation is absolutely necessary for this country.
It was 2009 when I stepped on the land of Rwanda for the first time. As stated earlier, the psychological reconciliation among Rwandan people is unfortunately at a stagnant state. One of the reasons is the limitation of the Western reconciliation model based on “forgiveness”. This model is a system that leads the perpetrators to admit their own sin and to seek for the victims’ ”forgiveness”, and acknowledges the only perpetrator-victim pairs that achieved this “forgiveness” as the pairs that achieved reconciliation. The reasons why this Western model shows its limit are below.
Practically speaking, the victims and the survivors who lost their parents, partners and children and received the worst possible damage cannot forgive the perpetrators in most cases.
More than 80% of Rwandans are pious Catholic or Protestant. Therefore, they suffer from the expectation of forgiving others or the selves, when in fact, they are unable to do so. Many of them cannot forgive themselves who cannot forgive others.
The victims must attend the weekly meetings with the perpetrators until the victims “forgive” the perpetrators. Also, the Reconciliation Counselors actively work on them toward this goal of obtaining “forgiveness”.
The relationship of the victim and the perpetrator is not considered to be restored until the victim verbally states that she forgives him.
While attending the reconciliation meetings, the attendants are forced to be away from day-to-day lives such as working on fields.
The model considers only verbal forgiving as the proof of restored relationship.
As stated, the Western model based on verbal words and “forgiveness” faces its psychological limit with the participants’ struggle of “not being able to forgive the other”.
This is why I decided to integrate the principle of Morita Therapy as the base of the new Action-Based Psychosocial Reconciliation model (ABPRA) that I constructed. We have started this new model’s testing last September with assistance of a local organization.
Under the conventional model, the victims are made to forgive by the Counselors, and they are under the pressure of having to forgive the perpetrators all the time. However, this process is rather artificial and unnatural, and the participants start to be caught up with forgiving and being forgiven. Moreover, the participants suffer from contradiction of wanting to forgive but not being able to do so, which further worsen the relationship between the victims and the perpetrators, as well as their psychological states. In the action-based model, we eliminated possibility of this negative process. Whether forgiving or not, the participants work together and work for each other. Setting this as the base, my objective is to provide a action-based, not word-based, model through more practical activities that fits the local’s lifestyle.
A Ray of Hope
Rwanda was not the only country that I visited before this project. I travelled around the African countries that survived a policy of racial segregation, “apartheid”, such as the Republic of South Africa. Similarly, I visited many countries that experienced violent ethnic conflicts such as Bosnia, Sarajevo in Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Palestinians in Hebron who experienced invasions. Although in very casual conversations, I suggested an attitude or way of viewing the world based on the principle of Morita Therapy to the people with these extreme experiences. Surprisingly, people almost always showed sympathy. In fact, I feel that it was probably easier for people with extreme struggle to accept the view of Morita Therapy than any other people.
One of the reasons is that their struggles they faced are not something any of us can deal or manage for them. Reality is, that they have no choice but accept and carry along the pain as they move forward; their struggle and pain are so great that there is absolutely no hope of “making it work”.
However, they never look at the world pessimistically, but accept the reality and carry on their everyday lives. Their lives are actually same as what Morita Therapy tries to suggest!
From this experience, I learned that at the site of extreme pain and struggle, the principle of Morita Therapy can shine even brighter and be more appreciated by many people. I see the essence of Morita Therapy principle, its universality and ability to coexist in many different cultures within people’s sweat and tears.
Another reason is that the Rwandan government released the perpetrators under the new policy in 2003, and currently the 1994’s perpetrators have returned to their villages where the victims and the survivors live. Their lives are strange and unusual, and filled with pain.
As noted earlier, I believe that the true value of Morita Therapy can be sought in such extreme situations. I can see that people who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 are starting to accept the reality and move forward, which reflects the basis of Morita Therapy, “taking the reality as it is” and “setting priorities straight and working toward them”. I believe that Morita Therapy really shows its value in the “unusual” situations, and I would like to prove this in Rwanda, a country that survived a genocide. If it is proven that Morita Therapy is effective in the scene of continuous struggles through activities and researches, the capability and the possibility of “Morita” will expand to even “unusual” and extreme cases.
Through this activity, I will try my best to contribute to peacekeeping activities, and even world peace with Morita Therapy.
These two points I mentioned are the unique and effective characteristics of Morita Therapy, as well as our new challenges.
*The original title was “Post Genocide: The Trial of the Action-Based Psychosocial Reconciliation Approach integrating Morita Therapy in Rwanda”. To make it easy to understand, it was revised to “Strenuous Life in Rwanda”.