South Africa worked to heal the deep wounds of apartheid with Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, public venues that brought victims, offenders and the affected community together to identify and address harms. The principles of restorative justice - which include accepting responsibility, expressing a sincere apology and involving all stakeholders to seek a resolution - can work in venues other than post-conflict societies, restorative justice advocates say.
Could those principles also work to heal the polarized, dysfunctional, and wildly unpopular U.S. Congress?
Acceptance of responsibility and a sincere, heartfelt apology can be an important first step to dispute resolution, psychologists and negotiation experts say. But this first step presents a problem: In Congress these days, it's tough to see who should be apologizing to whom.
- Should the party leaders step forward to apologize to the American people, for leading the partisan squabbles and parliamentary maneuvers that have brought Congressional activity to a standstill?
- Should the party leaders apologize to their caucuses, for asking members to vote against their consciences? Or should members apologize to their leaders, for holding up legislation with 'Nay' votes?
- Should the American people apologize to each other, for voting into office a group that they now overwhelmingly disapprove of?
What do you think? Who is most to blame for Congressional gridlock? Who should step up to apologize first?