Many values have collapsed in this time of transition, of which it seems we cannot get out. The meaning of many things that mattered to us has been destroyed, which served us as signs of our behavior as people, as parents and children, as collaborators, colleagues and as citizens. However you prefer, but somehow we all mourn for something. I am mostly sad about the destroyed meaning of words, of speech, ideas. And at the beginning of humanity is precisely the Word, the Letter. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” as the Bible says. The word, that is, talking, or the word and letters, are the source of everything. Sociologists inspired by Jürgen Habermas would say from the word, from communication society was created (Initially the Word was and Word was in Society and Word was Society). Spiritual leader John, on the other hand, as St John said, without it, without the word, without words, everything disappears, society disappears, humanity disappears.
I’m not saying we’ve lost the words. They are here. We are still talking, we are still part of some sort of society, some sort of group of individuals. But there is no unity among us. That’s why our words are ambiguous, imprecise… endlessly meaningless. Therefore, while speaking we are in fact fighting. The power of words is not measured by the importance of their meaning, but by the tone of the voice, the roar with which they are pronounced. Words are used more like bullets, like cannonballs. Wording has become an instrument of the desire for supremacy. Many of the words are just empty phrases, only shells whose cores have eaten the worm of distrust, dried up poverty, selfishness, despondency, accountability. Therefore, today many symbolically strong words and ideas resemble old, muddy bowls filled with fresh wines, with new meanings. This week’s wording of mine is rebellion against the actual disfigurement of the spoken symbols – forgiveness and reconciliation!
The words “forgiveness” and “reconciliation” were spoken by the highest state level (the speaker of the Assembly) and by the highest state official (the Prime Minister). His words for a number of lawmakers from among the opposition VMRO-DPMNE were a call for forgiveness and reconciliation with them. In that spirit, they supported the government’s proposed need for constitutional amendments by “pardoning for the events on April 27… And general national reconciliation”. In that direction, they also proposed “forming a parliamentary body…” which will draft and propose to Parliament “a plan for national reconciliation”, “within 30 days”. Proposal accepted! They are ready working on the proposal!
What I wanted to say today is – not in my name. No for such a rationalization of “national reconciliation”. This is already the third time as high-ranking state officials and political leaders call for national reconciliation and we still cannot reconcile.
Earlier, in December 2017, from the improvised stage in front of the Government, the former leader from VMRO-DPMNE Nikola Gruevski called for reconciliation. A year earlier, President Gjorge Ivanov, in the name of national reconciliation, withdrew the move with the general amnesty, which brought the nation into even greater schism.
Having basic knowledge in the field of transitional justice, which includes the concepts of national pardon, amnesty, reconciliation and other moves, as well as current proposals, is nothing but a plan for instant national reconciliation and for manipulating with that idea. Instant products, such as instant coffee, instant food, instant toilets and other “instants” are not long-lasting. They have a momentary function and only can only temporarily satisfy our needs, in particular, they have a need for it. Instant products work according to the formula “whatever works” and “quick fixes”.
The logic of the functioning and existence of instances is incompatible with the logic of symbols such as national reconciliation. We either do it as it should or will not have. Instant solutions can also be useful in connection with some secondary needs. But the need for national reconciliation in our country is much older and durable than any government and the fate of any political figure. Therefore, this idea should not be used for single use. Social, or national unity, is built on a long-term basis and on fundamental values and principles. The experiences of the great number of countries that have embarked on the road of national reconciliation show that there are several preconditions for this.
The first distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation, which and for what can and should be forgiven, and who, for what and how could reconcile. Forgiveness is an individual, psychological and, above all, a moral concept and act. Reconciliation is a political and legal concept. Forgiveness is a necessary, but insufficient assumption of reconciliation. In our case it is good that the victims who suffered in the events of April 27 are ready to forgive the aggressors. They show virtue. And they will have to continue to show greatness and to control their own instincts of revenge. But that’s not enough. Their bodies and personalities are not the only things that are hurt. The national dignity expressed through the integrity of the state institutions is also damaged. Therefore, the offense for which the perpetrators are charged is subject to criminal, and not to civil law. Zaev and the others that were injured can organize a group session and forgive the defendants. The same could be done by political parties whose members were injured. Parties and individuals are private actors. But the state must not forgive. A country that deserves that name has no soul, no friends, only interests (De Gaulle). It is the coldest of all cold monsters (Nietzsche). It can pardon or reconcile but not forgive, because it is not up to it to forgive. The reason for pardoning and reconciliation is rational, while forgiveness is emotional.
Secondly, in contrast to the forgiveness that is exercised as a personal attitude of the victims to the violators, reconciliation is a collective act. It necessarily includes the state and the nation. Reconciliation assumes reparation of the integrity of national collectivity, not of direct victims. That is why national reconciliation is not simply a moral necessity for the nation, but a legally regulated exchange of responsibility for truth. In countries where the reconciliation process has given the desired national integration results, it is by revealing the truth and establishing the responsibility. For this purpose, most often, the so-called commissions for the truth are being formed.
From this point of view, the proposal, which, according to the prime minister, has already entered the parliamentary procedure has been condemned to failure since the very beginning. But we should not regret it. It should not be successful. The problem is that its unsuccessful realization will have the emptying of the meaning of the symbol of national reconciliation as a consequence. Just as it happened with the idea of lustration. As VMRO-DPMNE destroyed the conciliatory effects of lustration, SDSM, with this approach, will ruin the idea of national reconciliation. Once, because of coalition interests, the Social Democrats reconciled with proven villains like Ljubco Georgievski and Ljube Boskoski, for example, who in 2002 first tried to stay in power with the incursion into the SEC and threatening with a coup. This did not succeed because of the steadfastness and integrity of the then SEC president who is now left unemployed in the country – after fourteen years of judicial career in the country and internationally! Now, we hear, they reconcile with the performers of the second coup attempt that ended in bloodshed, though, miraculously, without fatalities. But if people do not die from such projects, then the sense of statehood dies, the sense of nationality as a form of community.
In whose name do we spend the words with which we design social life, design the national community? No one’s political career, no one’s authority, is above the interests of the nation. Especially not those who have broken the laws. The European nations achieve their integration based on the rule of law. Accordingly, nobody’s political will and interest cannot be above the law. At least the will of the united “monks” for whom we know that skip fasting on Good Friday. The rule of law and, by doing so, the establishment and disclosure of truth is the precondition of national reconciliation and the integration of an antagonized majority.
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik