Statement from St. Michael’s House
Earlier this week, a group gathered in St. Michael’s House for one of our occasional Reconciliation Think Tank meetings. Our subject was Reconciliation in the wake of the Referendum, but inevitably we ranged widely, especially around the just published Chilcott report. The week had already seen the terrible terrorism attack in Baghdad. Three weeks ago we were presented with a candle stand in commemoration of the 7/7 bombings by students from Kiel. It has already been pressed into service as a focus for prayers in the wake of the Orlando shootings, and the referendum, and now we have both the attack on Istanbul airport, and the shootings by and of police in the United States.
In the wake of this deep fracture in our world, both locally and internationally, how are we to respond? Our priorities in the Community of the Cross of Nails are: Healing the Wounds of History; Learning to Live with Difference and Celebrate Diversity; Building a Culture of Peace. What might these look like in practice?
The Chilcott report makes sobering reading, but helps focus our minds to ways to respond not only in the wake of the Iraq war, but also other deep wounds in the world. Chilcott has brought into focus the damage caused by the second Iraq war – a terrible wound in the history of the world and one in desperate need of healing.
There is always the temptation to despair, but the Cathedral at Coventry – burnt and reborn – is testimony to the potential for healing and reconciliation from the depths of darkness.
In Iraq and the surrounding countries there are many wounds in need of attention if all people are able to live with difference and celebrate diversity. Sectarianism runs deep there, but we need to recognise it does so in every culture. It has been visible in our own nation since the Referendum vote.
The Chilcott Report makes it clear that diversity is essential for good governance and good living. If our Cabinet had been able to fully engage with all the evidence and if all voices had been listened to better decisions would have been made.
The Archbishop of Canterbury says that the common characteristic of failed states ‘is the inability to manage diversity and grow with it, enabling it to change them significantly into better places.’ 
We can make a difference by reaching out to people in our own community to build trust and proclaim hope. By working to heal the wounds of the past and celebrating diversity we can build cultures of peace. The way ahead is long, difficult and painful, but the alternative hopeless. How can we find hope?
We are reminded more than ever of the need to build a space for people to listen to one another, and to learn to see ‘the other’ as a human being, often gripped by the same fears as ourselves – and also bearing the same potential for hope. Together, listening and learning, we can encourage each other to pick ourselves up and re-discover our shared future.
The Think Tank conversations are for those with an academic or practitioner interest in Reconciliation. If you would like to join future think tank conversations, please contact email@example.com, P.A to the Canon for Reconciliation.