Monday, March 06, 2006

Facing the truth

Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch "Facing the Truth" on BBC2 last Saturday, which was the first in a series of 3 programmes hosted by the BBC's Fergal Keane and featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu moderating discussions between terrorist murderers and their victims' families.
In the programmes Tutu remains in the background, allowing the parties to face each other across a dining-style table. (Read a write-up here, and programme details here). The killings include those by Michael Stone, the infamous Milltown Cemetery killer, Clifford Burrage, a British Army officer who killed Michael McLarnon whom the Army claimed was an IRA member, and Joe Doherty, formerly jailed for the murder, by the IRA, of Captain Herbert Westmacott, the highest-ranking British soldier to die in the Troubles.  
Whereas all parties from all three programmes (recorded in Ballywalter House, Co. Down) said the experience had helped them to a greater or lesser extent in the process of dealing with their hurt and - in the case of Clifford Burrage - guilt, the programmes produced no quick fixes, no final resolutions.
Interviewed about the project, Fergal Keane - who incidentally is surely one of the finest journalists of his generation - said the most surprising aspect of the project was that there were no outbursts of anger or resentment at any stage. Given the huge losses sustained and the burden of guilt - spoken or unspoken - which must surely be felt to varying degrees by the killers, this says a lot about human nature - that in our hurt and loss we're still able to treat the perpetrators with dignity.
I've long thought that massive suffering does that to you. Maybe Jesus' brother James wasn't wrong when he wrote "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials" - they seem to make people Bigger. Not perfect, just Bigger.


At 8:50 p.m., Blogger Jo said...

A nice thought John.

Although we are very different in our approaches to things here, inthis sort of response we are at one. My religious interpretations are not quite as Biblically based as yours, but I constantly reference back to God's Love - a Love I do not see, unfortunately, in many in the blogosphere who purport to be Christian.

I think however, that Jesus would see something of Himself in you.

At 12:03 a.m., Blogger B.U. said...

Well, that's very kind of you, Jo, but don't judge God by his ground staff - even me. BU.


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