Rev Dr David Latimer is Minister at First Derry Presbyterian Church. As Christmas approaches he gives his opinion his vision for a better future.
“More than thirty years of violent conflict in Northern Ireland has left 3,600 dead, 40,000 injured and countless more bearing psychological scars.
“If there are those who think fractured people can suddenly arrive into a reconciled shared future to live as if nothing ever happened, they are doomed to disappointment. Wrong roads have been taken and dreadful mistakes have been made.
“Yet, before pointing the finger of blame, it’s worth recalling there is not one of us whose hands are altogether clean nor is there any amongst us whose hearts are altogether pure. We have suffered together and we have felt pain together. But we cannot forever remain separated from each other because of our past. Regardless of a person’s politics or religion there is an urgent requirement to move forward and stop being mired in what went before.
“It sounds simplistic but it’s the only way to get out of the mud our feet are stuck in. Consequently, it is time for people of goodwill, who will always out-number people of ill- will, to rewire their thinking and connect to one another by virtue of their shared vision for a better future.
“When the pilgrim fathers landed on the primitive shores of America they were full of vision. The first year they established a town. The next year they elected a council. In the third year the council proposed building a road five miles out into the wilderness for westward expansion, The people however criticised this as a waste of public funds.
“Once they were able to see across oceans to new worlds, now they couldn’t see five miles down the road. What happened? They lost their vision.
“Its tempting to conclude our vision has got lost given how we’re currently doing little other than wading backwards in treakle. The euphoria associated with the Good Friday Agreement has well and truly gone. Happy smiles and friendly laughter emanating from co-equal first ministers, in the opening years of a new political dispensation, have all but dried up!
“It is worth remembering when, as now, the light appears to have gone out there’s no such thing as a bad peace. Despite numerous pitfalls, a plethora of setbacks and the prevalence of old grudges and hard attitudes, we must give ourselves permission to go in a different direction and to break new ground so as to keep the vision of a transformed Northern Ireland alive.
“Children born into emerging peace do not want our past to be their future.
“They will be eternally grateful if we refuse to go with the flow and seek safety and simple answers. So, in the words of Tennyson may it be said of us, both in dark periods and on bright days: ‘I am part of all that I have met; though much is taken, much remains: that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.’ “