Many of us think of the first, or more prominent, meaning of reconcilation which says opposing parties can make things right with each other. Common use of this term involves religions and spirituality. Are sinners reconciled to God? Have the people who do wrong been reconciled with those they have wronged?

The third meaning of reconciliation is also in common use. This one is often used in accounting and bookkeeping; we reconcile our accounts with the bank. Various business accounts are reconciled on a quarterly or annualy basis.

In thinking about community development, I am paticularly interested in the second definition of reconciliation which is the process of finding a way to make two different ideas, facts, etc., exist or be true at the same time. I believe that this is critical in the development of community, not because the first definition — making things right with each other — is not important. Rather, I think an overlooked process in developing community is the need to make things right with our selves first. I wonder if opposing views in communities are sometimes — maybe even often — just two sides taking extreme positions on an issue about which both feel ambivalent.

Finding common ground in community or reaching some accord will be complicated when participants are ambivalent, but do not explore and own their ambivalence.

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