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Philippines

Who doesn't want peace and reconciliation?

Conflicting parties in family, society or nations can find peace if they really want to

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Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Who doesn't want peace and reconciliation?

Children, especially in poor communities in developing countries, are either caught in the middle of conflict or become targets of violence. (Photo by Jire Carreon) 

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Who doesn’t want peace, harmony, and reconciliation in their lives, their family, personal relationships, their nation and the world? Only those who can make personal gain from chaos.

Jenny May (not her real name) is 14 years old and wants peace above all. Without reconciliation with her mother, she will continue to suffer greatly.

In a padded therapy room, she unleashes her pain, emotional hurt, and deep anguish. The anger at her mother comes gushing out. For her abuser, there is bitter hatred.

She howls, screams and punches the cushions continually. Her cries make me and the therapists shiver with every moment of her outpouring of pain.

Our hair stands on end with the shock of such naked hatred being released like a volcanic eruption.

She throws herself against the foam-padded wall in a violent counter-attack against her rapist as she relives those terrible times of helplessness and fear.

Jenny is an abused girl, raped by the live-in partner of her mother who did not want to believe her daughter's story. The abuse happened when the mother left her daughter alone with the man.

She shouts at her mother "Why did you let it happen? Why did you not believe me and help me? I hate you, hate you!" she cries out.

Later in counseling, Jenny May says despite her mother’s betrayal she wants to talk with her.

Will there be reconciliation and peacemaking? That we don’t know.

For many of the 56 children recovering and healing at the Preda Home for abused children, the stories are similar. They want reconciliation and peace with their unsupportive mothers.

The mother's silence was akin to approval. Her inaction makes her an accomplice in the terrible crime. It will have life-long consequences for both her and Jenny May.  

The lack of Emotional Release Therapy for most victims means the pain has to be kept locked up inside, a cork tightly pressed into the emotional bottle.

A barrier of repressed memories is built up as the victims struggle to survive the ordeal as they grow and mature and find a way to survive and make something of life.

Self-induced forgetfulness keeps them going, affecting their personality, character and behavior throughout life.

For peace and reconciliation to take place, there has to be a change within both parties.

For dialogue to be possible, there has to be justice for Jenny May, so a criminal charge of rape of a minor will be filed against the live-in partner, and the mother will have to support it.

Conflicting parties in family, society or between nations can find a peaceful settlement if they really want to.

As for the individual, Jenny May, so too for the world — there is much pain before peace.

Governments that are invading, occupying, and blockading the territory or seas of the native inhabitants are robbing them of their sovereign rights and national dignity.

They have aggressive instincts like the rapist of Jenny May.

Appeasement and dialogue is not possible but a change of mind and heart is and justice must be done.

There will be no peaceful solution by insulting and humiliating opponents by threatening obliteration, violence or war.

There is enough war in the world. In Yemen, children scream in pain and die and hundreds of thousands are starving. They too feel the pain, anger and even hatred at being oppressed and raped.

War brings only misery, great pain for the victims and for the aggressor. Who wants peaceful negotiations? Certainly not those who profit from war.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse.

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