This book describes the experience of two private individuals trying to restore trust between communities divided by recent memories of murder, rape and ethnic cleansing, in this case Bosnian Muslims and Serbs. People wanting to better understand how conflicts can be resolved – whether in South Africa, Northern Ireland or Palestine – can find numerous accounts of high level attempts at reconciliation, initiated by politicians and conducted around conference tables in grand locations.
“Our common response to the chronicling of these seemingly tortuous negotations is “why it so difficult for their participant to forget the past and to move forward?”.
Reading “The White House” provides a different and more harrowing account of the mediation process as well as a timely explanation of the intransigence that disfigures the political process. It contains no theory and no prescription. It simply chronicles the struggles that occurs in individual hearts and minds when members of opposing communities attempt to engage in dialogue and seek to re-evaluate their previously fixed interpretations of who was responsible and who was to blame for recent atrocities.
“The White House” will bring home to any reader the collossal amount of emotional energy which is involved in the questioning let alone the changing of the deep seated prejudices of just one individual, let alone two whole communities in one small town.
But it also reminds us that repair of fractured communities comes from the bottom up, from the hearts and minds of ordinary people, as well as from political processes if a lasting peace is to be achieved. And there is no more worthwhile endeavour that projects of the sort that the authors have described in this book.