Today I had to make peace between two of my 5th grade girls. One is Russian and one is a local Emirati. They have a history of conflicts and insults between them. Both are very stubborn and somewhat pugnacious. This time one insulted the other, they pushed each other, and one of them got pushed to the floor. This happened at the end of class transition (from one classroom to the next) so I didn't see exactly what happened.
I told them they could resolve this with me or with the supervisor. They decided I would be the better choice. I let each one tell their side of the story. I told them, "You are both wrong." I said, "A____, you are very stubborn" and "M_________, you are also very stubborn." I made each say to the other, "I am sorry for what I did." without admitting anything. They both rolled their eyes but they said it. I then made them shake hands. I realize this is not the end of their problem, but it is a start. (Now I wish I had also made them accept each other's apology before shaking hands).
Later in the day I wondered if a similar method could work with nations using a neutral moderator. The moderator would listen to both sides tell their story, give a bit of a reality check to each side, and encourage both sides to apologize to the other for wrongs committed. They could take their own time to formally accept the apology (during general ceasefire) and then come to the table to negotiate terms of peace. Sounds good on paper, but the problem is each side is always so sure it is in the right and is guiltless. Whenever there is bloodshed on both sides, neither side is guiltless. There is also the problem of pride and not wanting to appear weak in front of their people. But making peace is not a job for weak souls. It takes a lot of courage to show humility and come to a common ground.
May a common ground be found for all people in conflict. Ameen (Amen).