May 7, 2013
Who is remembering what? And about Up Standers ...
Another full day which began with a spectacular sunrise and view from my bedroom window (first picture). Mysteriously, Rathlin Island had disappeared in the mist, even though the sun was shining. Our morning was spent in conversation with Colin Craig, former Centre Director, co-creator of the Dialogue for Peaceful Change (http://www.dialogueforpeacefulchange.net/), which has been used to train over 900 folks around the world in conflict mediation, an a program which runs often at Tatamagouche Centre. Since then, Colin founded the organizations TIDES (http://www.tidestraining.org/) and Framework for Sustainable Change.
With Colin we got a history lesson, social analysis, and storytelling about Corrymeela and Northern Ireland all rolled into one. He started with the “Decade of Centenaries”, a decade that remembers some watershed moments in Ireland’s history from 1912-1922. He said that there is a concerted effort to ask the question “how do we do ethical remembering?” and “who’s remembering what?”, stressing that all too often folks are only interested in celebrating one part of the story. For example, when the story of the Irish participation (both unionists and nationalists) in World War I is told with facts instead of from just one perspective, it leads to greater understanding for both sides.
In the afternoon, Sean Pettis, program staff for the Corrymeela program Facing Our History, Shaping Our Future, came to talk about his work with teachers, student teachers and students. The model combines history with citizenship education. Using the history of the holocaust, students look at events leading up to the holocaust in Nazi Germany and explore what questions that raises. He explained that one of the main goals is to explore the fact that people have difficult choices to make, and to examine why they make those choices. Sean explained that there are basically five types of people in a case of injustice – the victims, the perpetrators, the up standers, the bystanders, and the rescuers.
We were privileged to watch a film just produced by Sean called Up Standing, Stories of Courage from Northern Ireland. The materials produced for schools will include a video, a book with many stories of “upstanders”, and an educational guide. The film documents 10 stories of ordinary people who stood up to “do the right thing” during the time of the Troubles. All of these stories were of “ordinary” folks who stood up against bullies, systemic violence, and paramilitaries, often at great cost to themselves and their families. But they were stories of inspiration and courage, and they moved us all.
Our days at Corrymeela are also filled with meeting many others – in the hallways, in the lounges, at worship, breaks, and at meal times. There is another group of folks from upstate New York visiting Corrymeela for the first time this week. They have done mission work with a church in one of the interface areas in Belfast for nine years, raising money to help them repair an aging church into a centre for the community. There is also a boisterous youth group staying up at the Davey Village.
Below is the view from my bedroom window this morning looking towards the Giant’s Causeway. The next picture is Rachel and Colin Craig, Kathryn Anderson and Wilf Bean in conversation. Next is Paul (Centre Director) in conversation with Margaret at dinner. The next picture is Betty, Wilf, Anne and Frank in conversation with Inderjit Bhogal, the leader of the Corrymeela Community. And in the final picture, long term volunteer Josue from El Salvador entertains us during our “supper” of hot chocolate and toast.