(My Thought For The Day on BBC Radio Ulster on January 27, 2022)
How well did our boy Jamie Dornan do in the recent TV drama The Tourist. I love it when he can do his own accent. A Belfast man in the outback of Australia. Amongst a few unbelievable things the biggest had to be that a Belfast man can go missing. Surely if they asked any other Irish person in the whole of Australia they would have ended up being Elliott Stanley’s cousin or someone he threw stones at as a wee lad. I mean everyone knows everyone in this wee place.
I do not want to play down the trauma of losing all of your memory but if you have done something very bad in your past it might be a good get out clause. A new start. I mean for a good lot of The Tourist Jamie was an affable Belfast man that you’d be happy to have a coffee with… unless the seat had a bomb under it!
Our past. How we remember it. How we see it.
Pope Francis, who I am delighted to say has sent a message for next week’s 4 Corners Festival, wrote about how we deal with the past in his 2020 book Let Us Dream. His co-writer Austen Ivereigh will unpack that at St. Annes Cathedral on Sunday night.
I was drawn to a few of his thoughts about how to deal with the past. Pope Francis warned against the “reducing a person’s history to the wrong that they did.” Is that what we do with Elliott in The Tourist. Is that what we do across our society.
We see Jesus NOT doing this with the social outcast Zaccheus, that wee tax collector up a tree in Jericho. Jesus doesn’t reduce Zaccheus to his past but gives him a new start.
Pope Francis also writes that we should “look at the past critically but with empathy.”
Again Jesus does with Zaccheus. Jesus empathy invites himself for lunch with the outcast. He doesn’t forget his past, Zaacheus gives back 4 times what he has stolen… but with empathy, Jesus concentrates on a better future.
Jesus is all about new starts. Almost like wiping the memory. Imagine if Northern Ireland woke up this morning and like Jamie Dornan’s character Elliott Stanley had lost all our memories. How would that change the the day?