A dark and dreadful past, about which there is little consensus, is clearly a major stumbling block to building a reconciled shared future that can be experienced and enjoyed by people of every age, creed and culture.
The longer it takes to satisfactorily deal with the past the greater the risk of old toxic attitudes and practices being dragged into the present, which regrettably will serve to pave the way for our children and young people inheriting a future no different to our past!
The time has arrived for political vacillation and procrastination to stop! Splinters of the crucifixion are piercing into the flesh of multitudes all around our country and beyond. The eyes of so many people are firmly closed to the prospect of a better future primarily because their memories of hurt stay vivid and their wounds remain tender.
If we are to find our way to a future of friendship we must be prepared to build new kinds of relationships throughout our broken and divided country.
Recent experience however confirms that signatures on a peace treaty and former enemies sitting alongside each other in a power-sharing executive are totally insufficient to provide the solid ground upon which a palace of peace can take shape.
Northern Ireland will continue to teeter in the shallows until the perpetrators of suffering on every side acknowledge the damage they have caused or contributed to.
No matter how hard we try none of us can hide from the past and that’s because we’re creatures of memory. Therefore, if Northern Ireland’s two traditions are to seriously start living peacefully, there must be acknowledgement by all who caused or contributed to the pain and some kind of resolve to never again resort to bombs and bullets to address differences.
The world is so full of pain and the most tragic is the pain that we could so easily end and by simple words, ‘I was wrong. I’m sorry, forgive me’.
While no words will ever change the past, the reality is without a genuine heartfelt apology a great many will be deprived from ever seeing a reconciled shared future.
When wounds are large and deep a salve is necessary to speed along the road to health Words such as I’m Sorry and Forgive Me can be the richest kind of healing balm to help relieve people from their pain and enable them to progressively find a new dimension of inner peace.