In a few weeks' time, I will turn 60 and, in my time, I've played a small part in the history of this place. When I was old enough, I joined the security forces, serving Queen and country. When given the opportunity, I sought elected office and, over several terms, served my local community.
Like many thousands of others, when called upon by political leaders to rally, to march, or to block roads to change someone's political decision, I did as asked and every time the result was the same: we changed nothing.
Today, there are some who suggest a return to the tactics of the past. What they propose has nothing to do with political intelligence, or a carefully thought-out strategy: their proposals represent a lack of political understanding and an absence of strategy. Why do we find ourselves in this position?
There are different quotations based on the same theme, but Churchill's is perhaps the most pertinent: "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it." Are we, or our politicians, experiencing anything different than Carson, who reflected, "What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power."
We have placed our faith in men like Michael Gove, who, because he knows the words to The Sash, is considered a friend. Mr Gove is not one of us; Mr Gove will sing any song, will wear any coat and will put on any face that gives him political advantage. It is sad that leaders of unionism placed such faith in him. It is sadder that he was placed in charge of negotiating our position in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In the end, in introducing the Northern Ireland Protocol, the choice was between the financial opportunity in trading with America or ease of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of United Kingdom. In the end, money won.
Here in Northern Ireland, we have learned some valuable lessons. We are not the most important people in the world, we are not the most important people in Europe and we are not the most important people in the United Kingdom. The needs and wants of others take precedence.
The whole of the United Kingdom has learned that trading arrangements between nations are complex and bring difficulties and we have learned that, when national governments take shortcuts, regions face the most challenges.
Recently, I watched representatives of the logistics sector present to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Each and every one of them had solutions. Where they had identified problems, they were also identifying ways to address those problems. The one thing they were missing was a clear and tangible route to putting those solutions in front of decision-makers.
There are some hard lessons to learn. I suspect some politicians have yet to learn them and, even when they do, they will defer from telling the truth.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of an international trade agreement. There is no such thing as simply dismissing it. To replace it means reopening negotiations - something the Conservatives will not do.
So, where do we go from here? Some in unionist politics suggest bringing down Stormont and ending devolution. I can think of no more irrational thought than this.
In a world where our influence is already small, some would remove it altogether and place every aspect of our lives and our futures in the hands of those who have already shown they are quite prepared to use and abuse our loyalty for their own financial and political advancement.
There are those fond of using a phrase: "What we have we hold." It has been a feature of unionist politics my entire life. Perhaps now is the time to challenge it, for the sake of the Union and for unionism. What if what we have, what if what we hold, is not enough?
The country, the nation, the future I want for future generations must be better than what we have now and no amount of barricades and marches and rallies will deliver that change for Northern Ireland. To do so requires a vision that builds a common purpose.
Instead, if we truly believe in the Union, we must be prepared not only to sell a vision of something better, but deliver something better, not just here, but across the Kingdom, for Scotland, England and Wales as well as ourselves.
We are responsible now for building the foundations upon which future generations will build their society. Will those foundations be built on hopelessness and fear, running from challenges? Or will they be built on resilience, science and flexible rational thought?
To secure our place in the Union, decisions will depend not on friends and allies in high places. As we have experienced, when the time comes and they are needed, we have very few.
Our place will be secured on the value we bring to the growth and development of the UK as a whole, not just our place within it; known for what we put in, not just what we take out.
To abandon politics at any level at this stage is to abandon the future of Northern Ireland and forsake the reform of the health service, to ignore poverty and deprivation, to do nothing to address educational underachievement, or do nothing to address our responsibility to tackle the causes of climate change. Political leadership means winning by force of argument and having better solutions than anyone else at the table. We do not have one problem to find a solution for, we have many.
Fixing them all means staying at the table and doing the work.
Stephen Nicholl is a political commentator. He blogs at https://myunion.stephennicholl.co.uk/