Friday, February 04, 2005

Whither Iraq?:

"We knew we needed the truth to build a new nation. Without truth, no healing. Without forgiveness, no future." So says the Rev. Peter Storey, a South African Methodist minister who was appointed by Nelson Mandela after the collapse of apartheid to help form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission, which offered amnesty to perpetrators in exchange for truth, has been widely credited for helping both blacks and whites wrestle with their national demons and, in the process, discredit the previous political order. It also provided an opportunity for many families of victims to find out what had happened to loved ones taken away by authorities and never heard from again.

Perhaps President Bush—who caused quite a stir during the 2000 race when he named Christ as his favorite political philosopher—should remember South Africa’s experience as he continues to struggle with the insurgency in Iraq. It was Christ, after all, who spoke of the power of truth to set people free (John 8:32). No doubt such an approach would sound as pollyannaish to Iraqi ears as it does to our own. But to paraphrase Chesterton, that’s not so much because it has been tried and found wanting as that it has been found difficult and seldom tried.

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