Amid the noise, a reminder of the power of grace…

At times Slugger can be a noisy place. Some months we can hit 15,000 comments. I confess at this volume of comments, I do tend to skim over most of them; I imagine you do the same. But every now and again, a comment stops you in your tracks, like this one from Mancunian Deb:

Interesting article. I’ve been saying for 30 yrs that N Ireland can’t easily move forward if it’s hauling along behind it weighty bags overflowing with the past. A line must be drawn. Of course the stock answer from most brought up here is that as an English person I have no clue what I’m asking. Maybe I do.

In 1977 my mum was killed by a driver who was subsequently prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving. My dad invited him and his family to our house the week after the funeral. As a 15 yr old I was livid! It was only later I see why. To show us that he was another human being with his own problems and difficulties and undoubtedly his own guilt. No it didn’t bring my mum back but it did teach me that forgiveness is everything. BTW my dad spoke up for him at his trial and he didn’t go to prison probably because of it.

In theory, we are a Christian Country and mostly Christian people, but so rarely do we see actual Christianity in action. Someone who actually did turn the other cheek.

I know nothing of Deb’s family, but we all know stories of people’s reactions to tragic events that were not so stoic. The parent who hit the bottle, the kids who went off the rails on drugs, the people who saw the end of a rope as their only way out of the pain and anguish.

As the quote goes, “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside.”

There was a Unionist meltdown this week when Conservative MP Steve Baker apologised over the Brexit negotiation. From the BBC:

The Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was speaking at the Conservative party conference.

He reflected that he and others did not “always behave in a way which encouraged Ireland and the European Union to trust us to accept that they have legitimate interests”.

“I am sorry about that,” he said.

Mr Baker, a well-known Eurosceptic, said “relations with Ireland are not where they should be and we all need to work extremely hard to improve them”.

He added: “Actually the demise of our late majesty gave us an opportunity to meet leading Irish figures, and I said to some of them that I am sorry that we did not always respect your legitimate interests.

“I hope they won’t mind me saying I could feel the ice thawing a bit.”

I don’t want to sidetrack the debate into the rights and wrongs of his apology, but I will say at least he had the grace to do it.

Our modern 24/7 always on social media world is a place where everything is black and white. Where tribal loyalty is all, and God forbid you ever break from your mutual loathing of the other side.

But if we pause and step away from the chaos, we are reminded that good grace and civility have the power to diffuse tension and heal old wounds.

When we screw up, as most of us will do at some point, a strategy of humility may be the best option. And if someone wrongs us but they are remorseful, would we have the courage to forgive them?

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