Northern Ireland is heading towards 600 days without a government. People power went to the street this week with a campaign called We Deserve Better. We do deserve better and it is beyond a scandal that DUP and Sinn Fein would let us down like this. BUT… a lot of people voted for them… the country got what it deserved!
Call me naive but there is a solution to the impasse.
The DUP and Sinn Fein call a joint press conference at Stormont buildings. They then hold their hands up. In fact they could help hold each others hands up, the way Gerry Adams did to Sammy Wilson when Obama was in the Waterfront!
The hands up though is not metaphorical. They actually do hold their hands up. In one voice Arlene and Michelle confess to all of us that they have been at fault for all the implications that have resulted from us having no local government for almost two years. They both admit that they are both as much to blame as the other.
Then, if my naivety could permit, I would ask them to list ten things over the past fifty years that “their’ side inflicted on the “other” and apologise.
I am utterly fed up with social media messages and blogs and press conferences that blames the other side for everything and then lists what “ you” did to “us” over 50 years. These are very good tactics if we wish to continue our divisions and create stand offs that could spiral into something more dangerous. Where these tactics are used then the public should see this as the intention of that party or grouping.
If it is peace, reconciliation and a shared future that we are seeking, that which the vast majority of us voted for in 1998, then the tactics are very different. Fighting for peace is a more subversive, imaginative and revolutionary act.
I don’t really think I am being naive. I believe that this is a Biblical model to reconciliation and a model that we can learn from whether we believe in a transcendent God or not.
In the Bible, we see God's foundations for reconciliation and peace. Shalom is the driving force of the Bible; a broken world being redeemed, restored, reconciled. To do that God moves first. He acts to make the peace possible. He moves unconditionally. He actually gives himself to forgive those who sinned against him? Oh my!
In Northern Ireland we have fudged this and fell for a heresy that repentance comes first. I am afraid NOT. God’s grace is always first. God’s grace gives us the strength for transformation, the transformation does not earn grace.
For the human the Biblical message is clear. We are ALL broken. We ALL fall short. We ALL have things to confess. We are ALL complicit in this mess.
So tell us what “we” did to “you” and alongside it admit to what “you” did to “us”. Anything else is white noise, sectarian bigotry and a flawed understanding of your identity. I am no longer listening, reading or voting for you.
So Arlene and Michelle. Are you up for it? Are you about peace? Or war? Show us your ambition. Go on, confess your part and by doing so you will tell us, loud and clear, that peace and reconciliation are your agenda.
Let us not leave it to our politicians. The People Power and We Deserve Better are on to something. This is our peace. This is our future. Are we all up for it? Let’s get some balance. We have all been involved in ripping this island and our wonderful people apart. Let’s hold our hands up! Let us be humble enough to confess our way to peace.