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Don't let history give our kids grief.

Byline: DMUULS CIARAN McKEOWN The Piper of Peace

AN issue right at the heart of what might be called the "Haass Process" is the basic human emotion of grief, the dark side of true love.

Tangled inextricably with that is the identity question - flags, emblems, memorials.

All through the Troubles, when the news bulletins reported a death, before jingling on to some trivium, the ethnic antennae quivered to know was it "one of theirs" or "one of ours".

Killed in an explosion? Provo "job". Found in dawn light on waste ground? Loyalist "operation".

A "Troubles" victim acquired two levels of remembrance. One was the intense grief of the immediately bereaved; the other was a secondary dynamic reinforcing ethnic distrust of "the other side".

The dead - and their relatives - became ammunition in the rhetoric of division.

The more important feeling is the suffering of intimate loss. Anyone who has experienced that knows no politician, no clergyman, no psychiatrist, unless they too have endured it, can know what intense grief is like.

The deeply bereaved would prefer some awful physical pain to the intangible agony.

Medical opinion suggests this lasts about six months: if it goes on for 12 months or more, it is considered "pathological" and requiring "intervention".

That, of course, depends on the depth and length of the suddenly interrupted relationship.

A parent might "get on with life", especially if other children are in need of ever more watchful care.

But the pain will continue to stab from time to time and will never fully disappear until the parents themselves die. No statistics can measure grief, just as they can't measure love.

I have known relatives of Troubles victims who have then dedicated themselves to peace for all of us; I have known others for whom similar loss meant dedication to "victory" over "the other side".

And still others who, while avowedly rejecting vengeance, spend their days dramatising their own loss, neither dealing with their own grief, nor contributing to communal peace, but demanding "justice" in their own particular situation. The bereaved would some physical Has such justice, a generation on, any living power? Will it inhibit future atrocities?

Will it console anybody? Will it make our society more "just"? Will it contribute to creating a community of neighbours at ease with each other, even celebrating their diversity? There is not going to be a "truth process". That doesn't mean that politicians won't set up such a diversion as a means of "kicking the can down the road".

What I mean is that the "truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" will never emerge whole and entire.

That's because it simply cannot.

Lord Saville's 12-year inquiry, the most exhaustive and expensive examination in human history of a single incident, has proven that. Its results were relatively gratifying for the small number of relatives of those murdered on that infamous day.

But did that relieve any personal grief? Most relatives will long since have gotten on with their lives in the same way that all of us, when afflicted by seemingly unfair loss, somehow get on with it.

We eventually note, after the initially surreal unreality of normality, that life goes on and that the lives of children and grandchildren must not be relentlessly darkened by our suffering. We all die. If we have been loved, some people are going to suffer, until they too realise this is the way it is.

The only way we can really honour the departed is to commit ourselves to the service of life, especially of young life.

deeply Look at a child's smiling face: what in hell, literally, does that true innocent know about all the conflicting and armed misunderstandings which created "the Troubles"? prefer awful pain Eff-all - unless their cultdiminished parents fill them full of ethnicallycanonised history.

Already I see a new generation renewing old animosities, young people draped in flags or drawn to glorified "resistance".

The politicians now in charge know how they were conditioned by rhetoric or circumstances into violence or attitudes which moved others to kill.

I look to them for real communal leadership, a genuine Northern Irish democratic partnership, rather than emphasising their differences before the next election.

The deeply bereaved would prefer some awful physical pain


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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 28, 2013
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