Belfast Telegraph

Good Samaritans give vital example

Editor's Viewpoint

Condemnation by politicians of the sectarian attack by nationalist youths on homes and vehicles in the loyalist Suffolk area of west Belfast has been swift and unequivocal. That is how it should be, but rarely is. This was a hate crime and there should be no hiding place for those who carried it out. But it is not the words of the politicians which this newspaper is concentrating on today, but rather the actions of Catholic neighbours towards the Protestant families who came under attack.

When we talk of a shared future, it means decent people learning to live together, respecting each other's traditions and cultures and offering the hand of friendship to each other when it is needed. Given the raised tensions of recent weeks it is sometimes easy to forget that that is the type of future that most people in Northern Ireland want. And it is the sort of life that many of them already lead.

The Catholic neighbours who acted as Good Samaritans in the wake of the weekend attack in Suffolk provide a shining example of what a shared future should look like. This may be an interface area but people in both communities there have worked hard to allow decency to shine through in even the worst of times. Those acts of generosity and kindness and understanding don't often get reported, but they are more typical of life here than the bellicose statements of some politicians and community leaders in recent weeks or of the hate-filled attack itself.

That is why it is important that people from different communities get to know each other on a personal basis instead of treating each other as opposing tribes. The steady drip of ordinary humanity is a powerful force which can erode the bigotry of generations if given a chance and if communities do reach out to each other in a generosity of spirit. This is not working to some politically inspired blueprint, but simply responding to a desire to be a good neighbour. In our search for a shared future perhaps we have forgotten the most basic building block of all.

Belfast Telegraph

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