Driving from my home outside Stangford to Belfast, I have often stopped to look at an amazing sight — a Field! This is an extraordinary Field. It is covered in rows of a beautiful mixture of blue cornflowers, white daisies, and yellow wild flowers. It runs in a steep upward slope and integrates with the blue summer sky. It is awesome! It never fails to take my breath away. The Field is so amazing because it is unique, and because of the diversity of the flowers. Each time I see this canopy of colour, I marvel at the sheer beauty of creation. I also admire the imagination and creativity of the farmer who dared to trust himself to do 'something different'.
Sometimes as I drive past the field, I can hear the politicians on my car radio, arguing about cease-fires, decommissioning, etc. The debates sound so sterile and negative — how I long to hear something more imaginative and creative to lift all our spirits and give us hope. I wish too that politicians could all see this beautiful field and learn from nature.
The people of Northern Ireland are a beautiful mixture, too. Their diversity of religion, politics, culture, sexuality, should bring a vibrancy and variety to enrich all our lives. Instead we too argue incessentantly about it all. We insist one side has the better story, the better music, has suffered the most, etc. (...). We are experts at scapegoating someone else for 'the troubles' refusing to take responsibility or leadership (...). We are in danger too of getting stuck in a victim culture. Yes, people have suffered and we need to have the deepest compassion towards those who have been hurt, but we need also to move out of the path of victimhood, in order to release our creativity and imagination and begin to see wonderful new possibilities for all the people here. Our horizons will only be extended when we move out of our own limited perceptions and egos and look out to a wider exciting challenging world. Northern Ireland has for the past 30 years, received a great deal of help and attention from the outside world, isn't it time to return that kindness, by turning our attention to help the poor and children around the world who suffer so much (...)?
The Field has many lessons for us all. As the years go by the seeds in the field will intermingle and each year the flowers will be different. So too in our world — it is fast becoming multi-cultural, multi-ethnic — as people wander around their world seeking a peaceful place to put down their roots and blossom.
I would like to appeal to all the people and the elected politicians of Northern Ireland to take this example from nature, and accept a changing Northern Ireland. Let us begin to celebrate our diversity of culture, politics, religion, etc., and like the 'field' be prepared to empower each other to work together (...). Unionists need to start sitting down to share power with republicans, nationalists, and others. Nationalists need to assure Unionists that they are serious about making Northern Ireland work, and Loyalists and Republicans need to declare the war is over, say they are sorry for their part in the troubles, and start handing in the guns. But the Good Friday Agreement must not be held up any longer, as it is the will of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland and the politicians should move to implement it as quickly as possible.
[Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Co-founder Peace People, Nobel Peace Laureate, 30.8.99]