Reconciliation

The V.E. Day celebrations are just another reminder of the past, and all the while the generations which lived through these conflicts are slowly but surely leaving us.

The peace which came was won at great cost. The threats to that peace, often real, sometimes imagined, often force friends and allies to take entrenched and even opposing viewpoints. We are told (or believe) a variety of truths, half-truths and lies including such statements as ‘the Tories just don’t care,’ ‘we must leave Europe,’ ‘immigrants are to blame.’ Whatever your view, however you voted, the outcome of the national vote leaves many unanswered questions, even brings new fears and concerns. Three party leaders have resigned, David Cameron is Prime Minister and the pundits are struggling to understand and make sense of the political landscape that lies before us.

Whether you have shared in the feelings of uncertainty, concern or even fear or are celebrating victory, how now do we contribute TOGETHER to a safe, secure, stable and successful future?

Growing up in Northern Ireland, where ‘the Troubles’ spanned my life there, I learnt early how easy it is to hold an opinion, at least in part, because it is opposite to the opinion of ‘my enemy!’ After a general election that has polarised opinions, and exposed the divisions in our society, as well as within the United Kingdom, how do we move forward?

The answer lies in one word, a simple word, but it comes at huge cost. It is the word ‘reconciliation.’ The Christian message that has historically shaped so many of our national values, states that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.” That is the meaning of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

The late Reverend Ian Paisley, and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness were sworn enemies. Hatred seemed to be in their eyes. Yet, after the Good Friday agreement, a remarkable transformation began to take place. Their relationship as First and Deputy Ministers in Northern Ireland was not based on shared politics, religion, or social status. Behind closed doors they discovered a friendship that could never have been predicted. In front of the cameras they were christened ‘the chuckle brothers!’ And in the last days of his terminal illness, Paisley was regularly visited at home by his erstwhile enemy.

To move forward, we must meet one another as human beings. We must confess that we all fall short of even our own expectations. Someone has got to make the first move. Reconciliation, whether in a marriage, a workplace, or a nation, requires sacrifice! That sacrifice usually must begin with ‘the winner.’ Having the upper hand puts a huge burden on leaders. Real leaders wrap a towel around their waist and wash the feet of those they serve. That is the kind of leadership we need!

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