Playing our Part for the Sake of Peace

Here, as promised, is my "Thought for Yesterday". If you prefer to hear it, here it is... they even went to the trouble of producing it as a stand-alone clip this week... That's my last TFTD for a while, and given my frequency of blogging recently it might be my last blog for a similar period...  

My role as a Methodist minister means that I often end up moving from one event to another, hastily changing the hat that I am wearing, and sometimes other items of attire… The juxtaposition is sometimes stark. Moving from celebration to consolation to confrontation, from business meetings to baptisms to hospital bedside, from infrequent weddings to sadly more frequent funerals, from BBC studio to board table to the occasional windswept building site.
Yesterday evening put two very different events side by side in my diary… First, I was “networking” with business and other civic leaders on the observation deck of the new Belfast Grand Central Hotel in Bedford street… Then I went to be one of the readers in an event entitled “Never Again” at All Souls Church in Elmwood Avenue, where, over the course of 4 hours the names of all those killed in the course of our Troubles was read out…
And as I reflected on those two events I thought about how they symbolised the radical change in this City. After all the first Grand Central hotel in Royal Avenue became a military base back in 1972, and was repeatedly attacked before finally being demolished to make way for Castle Court, whilst the new hotel was previously Windsor House, which among its tenants numbered the BBC, the Courts Service and the Victims Commissioners… Yet here it is now, a soaring symbols of the economic growth of this city, and its place as a prime tourist destination.
But whilst the Victims Commission is no longer based in that building, the pain of victims and survivors continues… Each of those names read out at the Never Again event, however they died, are ciphers for a whole network of pain and anger and sorrow. The reason the event was held last night was so that it would finish shortly after midnight on this, the International Day of Peace… Too often it has been said that victims and survivors pay a disproportionate price for the peace we all enjoy… And the economic benefits of peace do not necessarily trickle down particularly fast from the heights of places like the observation deck of the Grand Central Hotel.
The Hebrew concept of peace, shalom, is about much more than a cessation of hostilities… it includes material prosperity, but also the practice of social justice and mercy, the promotion of physical, mental and spiritual well-being, looking out for the victim and the vulnerable, the least and the lowest… And we have all got a part to play in that… those networking on the top of the grand central hotel, those who should be sitting in Stormont, and those of us just going about our daily business, be it in the board room, the school room, the pulpit, the BBC studio, the supermarket queue or at Culture Night.


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