[Many thanks to Don Jr. for contributing the following essay -- RC.]
Reconciliation, it seems to me, involves putting things back; more specifically, it involves putting things back together. In a word, it is to reunite. Now a thing is in need of re-union only if it has been divided. In the realm of human affairs, divisions are caused, for the most part, because one party has been injured (or feels it has been injured). Reconciliation, then, must be sought either by the party that has injured or by the party that has been injured. It is usually held that the party which has injured—that is, caused the injuring—has the harder job of the two; however, this opinion tends to exist, I believe, because reconciliation—or really forgiveness—is often misunderstood. It is misunderstood (I will clarify later) in the same sense that a child might mistake the band-aid for the actual healing.
I said that reconciliation involves putting things back. But you cannot put something back until you have let it go; and this is where the injured party frequently falls short, for the injured party has the difficult task of having to forgive, of having to put back, to let go. It is often said that one must "forgive and forget," as if the two were distinct. In a sense, though, forgiving is forgetting, for it is agreeing to act as if the thing never happened. It is almost literally to put things back. This is where the misunderstanding occurs. Many are content to forgive for the time being. However, as soon as they are injured again they will bring up, as if they never really forgave them, any past injuries they can recall. But there is no such thing as partial or temporary forgiveness. A band-aid is a temporary fix. However, to stick a band-aid on an injury and act as if it is healed is naive at best. Actual healing needs to take place. And actual healing is nothing more than "putting things back." The same applies to actual forgiveness. Thinking this through, one might begin to see how difficult it is to truly forgive. This is why I think the injured party has the harder task.
Forgiveness, though, is not merely a thing given; it is also a thing received. And in the instance that it is not received, it falls short of being fully complete. Reconciliation is a reunion which requires the efforts of both parties. The injured party, in my opinion, has the more difficult task in that they must not merely strike a line through the record (a line which may subsequently be erased) but must erase the record entirely; they must "put things back." The party that has caused the injury also, though, has a difficult task; they must humble themselves enough to accept the gift of forgiveness — and it is a gift. It is a gift in the sense that it can never be merited. One can never earn the chance to undo time. No number of my rights can ever erase a single wrong. The only ones able to erase those are the persons who were wronged. Unfortunately, most of us have poor erasers.
-- Don Jr.