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By discussing what we have in common we can build a better future for all

 

By Canon Walter Lewis

It is a failure of tragic proportions that Northern Ireland cannot activate its political institutions to work for every person.

Indeed, its a great shame on all of us, but particularly on all our politicians.

Surely, it must be within the bounds of possibility for our political representatives to inject new life into the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.

I commend a three-fold strategy to our political leaders from the late-1960s.

It comes from the Nobel peace prize winner Pere Dominique Pire, a Belgian Dominican priest. Dominique Pire was awarded the Nobel prize for his work in resettling displaced persons in post-Second World War Europe.

Later, he established Islands of Peace - each numbering communities of about 20,000 - for self-development in Kalakkadad, Pakistan and Timbuktu, Mali.

He also established a University of Peace in Belgium that was attended by men and women from every country, religion and background all over the world.

I, personally, benefited greatly from my visits there.

The philosophy of fraternal dialogue undergirded and informed all of Dominique Pire's imaginative and challenging projects.

The philosophy was three-fold and three-phased:

  • People doing practical, beneficial work/projects together;
  • People discussing and sharing ideas in common;
  • People discussing matters on which they differ.

Doing and discussing things in common. Then, having built up trust and confidence, being able to talk and work together in areas of difference.

It seems to me that, here in Northern Ireland, we are short on doing and discussing things in common, and in sharing thoughts about differences.

I suggest it would be constructive and helpful if our politicians were to find common areas of agreement and trust, and work on them.

And when friendship and trust are in evidence, then difference will not be met with fear and apprehension.

We owe it to ourselves, and to all in Northern Ireland, to give priority to peace-building.

It is a process needing patience and time, but it brings universal reward.

Tomorrow is Trinity Sunday. People around the world will be celebrating the majesty, mystery, holiness and wonder of God. At the heart of these celebrations will be the affirmation of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At the heart of that will be the fellowship within the Trinity. At the heart of that will be the relationship of love - the love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

That love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit is your template and mine to lead all of us into God's assured new day. Let us love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit love each other.

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