A few years ago, I had a group of students, the Last Breakfast Club, who were insistent that I should share my credentials in the personal ads of the Belfast Newsletter. Don’t worry. I didn’t agree. They had many helpful suggestions?
Of course, as a History teacher, I rush towards every new interpretation. We crave new understandings. We are a rare breed!
Recently, I led a Mural Tour through Belfast. Goodness. I am so sorry for how bad it was. Despite this, I inevitably thought about what the Murals mean to me. To be honest, nothing. The Murals, the Flags and the Symbols seem to say to the respective communities, ‘we are you and you are us.’ It all feels rather disturbing to me. We used to say, “For those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who don’t understand, no explanation is possible.’ For those with vision, the whole conflict was not inexplicable. It was a tragedy that everyone understood. It was always a conflict that we all hoped and prayed would end. I have to make this absolutely clear. I have shed too many tears for those I didn’t get to know and those I could have known. I have also shed tears for those I knew.
When we visited Corrymeela recently, with a group of our European friends, you wouldn’t believe how emotional that I was. It felt like my heart grew heavier with every step. Once again, I had to place a stone of remembrance at the heart of where reconciliation began. I had to place the right foot before the left foot and tentatively move on. Our heart, our love and affection, our actions, our feelings, encapsulate who we are. We have to reach out. We have to care.
We have to love.