Extending The Hand of Forgiveness

  • Yesterday marked another historic milestone in the Northern Ireland peace process as we saw the former IRA Commander shake hands with HRH Queen Elizabeth at Storemont, the political home of Northern Irish Government.

    The Queen & Martin McGuinness historically shake hands.

    Credit/Source: BBC News Website

    Not so many years ago, such an event would have been thought of as unthinkable.  Indeed, when local communities on both sides where questioned about it, the voice of dissent was clearly obvious in some of them and anti-royalist graffiti and messages have been springing up all over the province.

    Some people here have been finding it hard to understand how The Queen can shake the hand of a man who was part of an organisation that perpetrated the personal tragedy in her own family when Lord Mountbatten was killed by the IRA in the 80’s.  Both sides have suffered.  Both sides have committed atrocities.  Neither side is whiter than white.  But, in extending the hand of forgiveness, both sides have shown their respective communities that we can move on.  We can forgive.  It’s not that either side is condoning the behavior of the other or agreeing with their particular politics or view of the world, but in shaking hands, it shows an agreement to move on and work together to facilitate peace and harmony between the two sides.

    Being unable to forgive, as I have posted before, only hurts the person who is harboring the grudge.  The person who has been wronged in some way.  Never does the wrong-doer feel bad about it.  Often, they won’t even realize they have done wrong or upset someone.  So if you’ve been wronged and find it hard to forgive, ask yourself this – why should I feel awful about it?  Forgiveness is the eraser of guilt, fear, anger and a whole host of other negative states and emotions.  Being able to forgive someone simply lets all that negativity go and I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised at how uplifting this can be.

    So if Martin McGuiness and Queen Elizabeth can shake hands and set such a positive example to their respective communities, perhaps we should look at our own lives and see if we need to forgive anyone.  More importantly have we been beating ourselves up about something?  If so perhaps we should forgive ourselves too!


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