As Commissioner for Victims and Survivors in Northern Ireland, I spent two years wrestling in some way or another with “dealing with the past”. My time was a very short time indeed compared to the contributors in this important book. Their lives were changed forever by “the past”. They are people who have been bereaved or injured or imprisoned or outcast or who have committed their lives to campaigning on behalf of others.
Crucially, Unfinished Peace takes a very different approach to other collections and works. It allows the voices of those who are rarely heard – often ignored or deliberately excluded – to be presented with equal value and respect. Their truth is their truth. We might not like it. We might disagree with it. We might find it extremely offensive. But if it’s their truth, then that’s the way it is.
What if all of those whose “expert voices” fill airwaves and column inches, often drowning out the voices of the many, took the time to read about the experiences of “the other” – so eloquently given a platform here? Might they realise that their concerns and anxieties, and their moving accounts of love and loss are strikingly similar?
Reading this book shows how to find answers to seemingly intractable questions. Politicians, church leaders and civil society would do well to consider its messages as a way of understanding what peace might really feel like.
Kathryn Stone OBE, Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, 2012-2014