Can We Make Hope and History Rhyme? Support the Campaign to Encourage the Haass Talks

hope and historyA group of Christians from across our denominations has begun a ‘Hope and History’ campaign to encourage politicians to engage faithfully and authentically with each other in the upcoming Haass Talks, in pursuit of the common good.

The campaign asks people to put their names to a statement urging ‘humility’, ‘healing’, and ‘hope.’ (Read the full statement here)

Word about the campaign started to filter out last night through social media, as the website was being put together. There are already 250 signatures and almost 300 ‘likes’ on Facebook, and counting – this already without an official ‘launch’ or media coverage.

Most readers will know ‘Hope and History’ as a reference to Seamus Heaney’s poem, ‘The Cure at Troy.’ As explained on the website:

The name of our campaign is a reference to Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Cure At Troy’. Heaney’s poem is known for its lines:

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

In this poem he also notes that words themselves are limited: “No poem or play or song / Can fully right a wrong / Inflicted and endured”. Next week, our political leaders will begin a process of dialogue and discussion led by Richard Haass. Words themselves will not be the final answer – no words are adequate to compensate for, or cover the grief of the peoples here. Heaney’s poem speaks of a distant shore, a belief in something larger than us that might lead us to look at our own holy wells, cures and miracles in a light that helps us see what is already around us in a new fashion. This is our hope, as people of faith. We join in prayer and in hope, in commitment and in conviction that these talks can and must be a step forward toward this important reality.

The clergy behind the statement are:

  • Rev David Campton
  • Rev Dr Lesley Carroll
  • Rev Dr Rob Craig
  • Rev Mervyn Ewing
  • Rev Margaret Ferguson
  • Rev Nigel Kirkpatrick
  • Rev Martin Magill
  • Rev Arlene Moore
  • Rev Dr Heather Morris
  • Rev Steve Stockman

It also has been endorsed by Cardinal Sean Brady (Catholic Primate of All Ireland), Most Rev Richard Clarke (Church Of Ireland Primate Of All Ireland) , Right Rev Dr Rob Craig (The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) and Rev Dr Heather Morris (President of the Methodist Church in Ireland).

Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama contributed the description of the rationale behind the name of the campaign.

Haass has called on the public to contribute their ideas to the talks, which are taking  submissions. Hope and History signals the willingness of Christians to support the talk and, I think, commits us to taking on more responsibility in civic society to articulate our ideas for a better future.

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