2023 is the 25the anniversary of the Good Friday agreement between the Irish Republican Government and the British Government. It brought peace to Northern Ireland and an end to the long held claim of the British government to sovereignty of all Ireland. The agreement was brokered by the United States senator for Maine, Senator George Mitchell, sent for this specific purpose by President Bill Clinton. Later, back in the United States, Senator Mitchell was awarded the Liberty Medal. He made a speech which included these words. ‘I believe there is no such thing as a conflict that cannot be ended. They’re created and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings. No matter how ancient the conflict, no matter how hateful, no matter how hurtful, peace can prevail. ’A hopeful message
This event and these words brought to mind a different conflict, but one no less important, loneliness. It can be like a prison or a bridge, with hope looking towards something better.
Many years ago I knew, not well, a boy from primary to secondary grammar school. His father was a fen farm worker and his mother a housewife. He was their only child, shy and not at all sports minded. However he had a brilliant mind and studied Maths at Cambridge University, he was welcomed with open arms. After just over a year at the university, he took his own life. At home, he had received all the love and tenderness that sons and daughters deserve. I think he must have felt like a fish out of water.
Loneliness can strike a sensitive chord in many of us.
Some time ago I lived in London; ironical really that I should feel lonely in a city of millions.
Around that time when cigarette advertising was permitted there was an advert in cinemas and hoardings for a brand of cigarette called STRAND. The advert showed a man in a dark city street, alone with this lighted cigarette and the words ‘You’re never alone with a Strand’. The cigarettes never sold and the advert was soon withdrawn. Loneliness can strike a sensitive chord in many of us.
Most of us, I would think the majority, meet together with others of all ages and backgrounds whether it be sports, arts, church or other places of worship and many volunteer to help where needed. All with this experience will enable and help us to grow as people. We never leave these experiences quite the same within ourselves as when we arrived, we are enriched – ‘We are family’!
I remember my father when he visited the lonely; on returning home, the first thing he did was to rush to the loo. Why? Weak bladder? No. Wherever he went, he was always offered a cup of tea!