Remember the Past to build the Future
This blog was originally published on Substack in 2021
Remembering 100 Years
Northern Ireland was 100 years old in 2021.
I lived there for the first 18 years of my life.
That used to feel like forever, but the longer my days go on, the further away I am from those formative, deeply ingrained years; the years described as ‘The Troubles’.
I left Northern Ireland in 1994, just before the second IRA Ceasefire was called, and four years before the Good Friday Agreement would be signed.
While watching, it suddenly struck me that I, and my generation, are the last to grow up in the midst of ‘The Troubles’ as they were; the 30 year trail of fear, mistrust and destruction.
There is now a whole generation for whom the ‘The Troubles’ are part of history, a recollection, a story, part of their heritage.
However, what Patrick found on his return to the place we both call home, was a new generation for whom the lessons of the past are waiting to be re-written, the curriculum has seemingly not been as engaging as it should.
It almost beggars belief that anyone in Northern Ireland would want to return to way things were for those horrific 30 years.
However, if you believe that your very way of life is at stake and hope of a brighter future is non-existent, then fighting for what you think is your birthright becomes a seemingly viable option.
Watching this documentary I was transported back over 20 years, finding myself yearning for peace, for understanding, for meaning.
I’m not sure where these thoughts have gotten me but one thing I am clear about is that if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting the same results.
This is especially true as we move out of the emergency Covid-19 response.
Understandably, there has been a desire to get ‘back to normal’ and a rush of blood to do just that.
The reality, as far as I can see, is that the old normal is history but we should continue to take its medicine and learn its lessons.
Did we turn the curve on inequality pre-pandemic? No, we did not.
Did people always feel safe in their own neighbourhoods? No, they did not.
Did people who need social care, always access readily available support which promoted choice, control and empowerment? No, they did not.
Did we stamp out racism and homophobia in all its forms? No, we did not.
Let’s not return to the old normal, it wasn’t all that.
What does your new normal look like?
Soundtrack: The Great War of Words by Brian Kennedy