Reconciliation Final

This is my final for WR 121 during Fall term 2012 at Lane Community College. It is written in conversation with Louise Steinman’s book, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War. I received an A on this paper and in the course which made me happy.

Love, Despair, and Reconciliation

            In life, relationships between two people or two parties can become broken.  Reconciliation happens when we mend those broken relationships.  Reconciliation takes a lot of things to make it work.  It takes commitment by both parties involved, commitment by those parties to resolving their differences with one another.  If the parties are not fully committed to putting forth the effort, no matter how much is needed, then the reconciliation is unlikely.

Reconciliation requires forgiveness.  Forgiveness is probably the most important aspect when it comes to a broken personal relationship between two people.  Two people must show forgiveness for each other’s past differences and failures in their relationship.  If they cannot forgive and forget their past differences, failures, arguments, and fights then reconciliation is improbable.

Compromise and self-sacrifice go hand in hand during reconciliation between two parties.  To get by the past differences and failures that there has been in a relationship there usually needs to be compromise and self-sacrifice, by one or both sides, to reach reconciliation.  If neither side can compromise then the relationship is likely to reach the same broken state that it had been in to begin with.

Sometimes for this compromise to happen the parties involved have to show each other compassion and empathy.  One has to have compassion and empathy for the other party’s feelings, thoughts, and situation that they may be in.  Sometimes putting oneself in the other party’s shoes will help the reconciliation.

Reconciliations are a lot of work.  They take effort, understanding, and commitment.  I know this from experience.  I have had several reconciliations with my friends and family over my lifetime.  None of which have come easily.

One such reconciliation I have been involved in was with my current girlfriend Erika.  We have been dating for almost three years now, and that time has come with its share of ups and downs.  The biggest of those downs came a few months back when we split up for a couple weeks.

Erika and I had a huge fight and we both had blown up on each other and both said some things that we did not mean and regretted.  We did not speak to each other for three days, and that says a lot toward how mad we were at each other, since we had not gone more than a day’s work between speaking since meeting.

After the initial three days we started talking to one another again.  At first I thought that reconciliation was going to prove impossible.  All we seemed to do is fight when we tried to talk because we were both trying to prove that the other was in the wrong, and the cause of the broken relationship.  Finally, I decided that I would bite the proverbial bullet and compromise my feelings.  I admitted that I was mostly at fault, although I did not honestly feel that I was.

I was too committed to our relationship, and to the reconciliation of it, to let our mutual stubborn personalities and egos ruin the great relationship that we had.  By my admission of guilt in the broken relationship we got past the fighting and arguing, and eventually were able to sit down and talk about our problems and differences.

Once we were able to sit down and talk about how to work our problems out, we both had to make a commitment to each other to resolve our differences.  We had to be willing to admit our mistakes and focus on how to better ourselves for each other, and not make the same mistakes in the future.

Both Erika and I had to be empathetic of one another’s feelings and think about how we would see things if we were in each other’s shoes.  This was a particularly effective way for us to work out some of our issues, by putting things in perspective and making us think about the effect that our actions and words had on each other.

In her book, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War, Louise Steinman shows us how after reading her father’s letters, and through visiting the places that he had fought in the war at, she became empathetic of what her father had experienced.  She realized why he was the way he was after the war.  This empathy, that she came to have for her father, was extremely important in the reconciliation that she had with him.  The empathy made this reconciliation possible, and without it she would never been able to forgive him.

Once Steinman was able to understand what her father experienced in the war she was able start forgiving him.  She was able to forgive him for the man he became after the war, the man she had come to hold a lot of resentment toward.  Without this forgiveness of her father, the reconciliation of Steinman with her father would not have taken place.

Likewise, if Erika and I would not have thought about things from each other’s perspective our reconciliation would not have happened.  Once we were able to understand each other, we were able to forgive each other for the past and the things that we had said and done.  Without the forgiveness, there would not have been reconciliation between us.

Reconciliations usually take a great deal of effort by one or both parties to be successful.  My reconciliation with Erika took a great deal of effort from both of us.  I went out of my way to reconcile and heal our relationship, sacrificing my time and hurt feelings to make it possible.  Both of us had to put forth a lot of effort to talk through our differences because it took many hours of communication between us to get reach an understanding and agreement.

Steinman shows similar effort and sacrifice throughout her book.  Without her perseverance and extreme effort and to locate the Shimizu family, and without the sacrifice of her time and money to return the flag, she never would have reconciled the relationship between her family and the Shimizu family, nor would she have reconciled the one between herself as an American and the Japanese.  She likely would not have reconciled her relationship with her father either, because the trip to Japan to return the flag led to her visiting the Philippines, through which she gained a better understanding of him and what he had experienced there.

Reconciliations do not come easily.  Steinman’s story is evidence to that.  My experiences have shown me that.  They take a lot of effort, understanding, commitment, and self-sacrifice. They also usually require forgiveness, compromise, compassion, and empathy.  Sometimes the cost outweighs the reward, but sometimes the reward far outweighs the cost, as was my reward of a great relationship with my girlfriend, who I love.

Works Cited

Steinman, Louise. The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2001. Print.


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