by Teresa Notarmaso
It amazes me every day in this little city of Derry/Londonderry the small tests of change are taking place.....yesterday, we had an awesome presentation by Eamon and Maureen about the work they are doing in the area of creating an understanding between all factions formerly active in this space we call Derry.
I've heard about peace efforts in other places, and other times, of course, but never so much beyond the actual agreement. It seems in other places, at other times, the media has portrayed peace happening once an agreement is made. Then life just goes on, the residents/former residents pick up the pieces, and get on with their lives, in what ever fashion that has taken.
Here, in this space we call Derrry, or Londonderry, not only does life goes on, there is an affirmative attempt to create understanding, and perhaps, forgiveness, through the efforts of Maureen Hetherington and Eamon Baker. With carefully facilitated talking circles, inhabitants of this space take the first step in the long journey towards understanding all sides of the conflict. This is a difficult and painful process, to be in a room with your former enemy. A lot of careful preparation prior to the sessions with all potential participants takes place first, a very ethical and wise thing. Potential participants are given full disclosure regarding what the process is, and actually has the opportunity to move forward or bow out, depending on where the individual is in their own healing process. And it is all good. They are allowed the human dignity, regardless of which side of the conflict they were on, to chose. How beautiful is that? Particularly, when in the times of the past, they did not have perhaps the opportunity to chose. That in itself, at least I believe, is the beginning of healing in itself. And it is a beautiful thing.
Once the participant choses to participate, they go through very honest, safe and very emotional sessions. This writer has participated and can attest to its' healing powers. One leaves the sessions drained, hopeful for the future, and on the first steps of healing some traumatic loss(es). Our Ojibwe people have a word for that - 'Chi Miigwetch' - and it means, 'Thank you very much', loosely translated. So for Eamon and Maureen, and the organizers of this trip, and my fellow participants, I say, 'Chi Miigwetch'!