6/4/23: Fardus Sultan shares her experience in RTÉ below, and her perspective on Peace that she shared when she joined at the end of the service.
I found participating in the RTÉ programme on behalf of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation an incredibly humbling experience. While I joined at the end of the service to offer my perspective on peace, I was privileged to meet some of the participants before and after the recording, as well as the wonderfully understanding RTÉ producer Roger Childs.
The programme features some well-known names in peacebuilding work in Ireland, from the former President Mary McAleese to religious activists such as Bishop Trevor Williams, Rev. Harold Good, Fr Martin Magill and Rev. Steve Stockman. Consequently, the programme focused on religious perspectives on peace in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a landmark agreement in the history of Ireland, ending decades of conflict and violence which paved the way for a more peaceful and prosperous future on the island of Ireland.
Also highlighted on the programme are the poignant experiences of Bridge Voyle, who lost her mother, and Alan McBride who lost his wife during the Troubles, while Nicola Corner lost her young sister after the signing of the Agreement. All of these stories show the acute pain and suffering experienced when peace is not shared, and emphasise that peace demands continuous and sustained commitment, patience and resilience.
Before the recording, I had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Trevor Williams, who is known for his work in Northern Ireland peace building and interfaith dialogue. It was fascinating to hear about his own experiences and insights, and one of the key themes that emerged from our conversation was the importance of building relationships across different communities, and the role that mutual understanding and appreciation play in this process.
The importance of seeking out commonalities between different communities was a brief theme of discussion I had with Fr Martin Magill and Rev. Steve Stockman following the recording. While exchanging common greetings of peace, Rev. Dr Alex Wimberly warmly greeted me with the Arabic word of “salaam”, which again brought into focus the importance of embracing our shared humanity.
As we reflect on the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it is clear that the work of organisations like Glencree is more important than ever. While progress has been made, there are still many challenges facing us as we strive for a more peaceful and equitable world. These range from the ongoing war in Ukraine, to the rise of the far-right and its rhetoric of fear and hate, to the challenges of climate change and global inequality; there are many issues that require cooperation and dialogue across different communities and nations.
In this context, the work of Glencree and other peacebuilding organisations is vital. By bringing people together, fostering dialogue and building trust, the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation has been at the forefront of promoting peace and reconciliation in Ireland and around the world since 1974. Coming up to 50 years in 2024, Glencree continues to play a key role in bringing people from different backgrounds and communities together, and in doing so, helps to promote a more peaceful and inclusive society.
As we look to the future, it is important that we continue to support organisations like Glencree, and to work together to build a more peaceful and prosperous world for all.
Fardus Sultan’s Perspective on Peace
It is often said that people tend to realise the importance of health only when they lose it, and often, we see the value of peace is only appreciated when peace is compromised. As a survivor of the Bosnian war and Sarajevo siege, this resonates with me and fighting for peace, if you excuse the pun, has remained with me ever since.
As we reflect on the Good Friday Agreement, we are reminded yet again, that peace is not a pinpoint in time, but rather a live, organic thing that requires continuous conversations: It demands that we engage in dialogue, listen actively, and empathize with one another: see the humans behind the veil, and, ensure that everyone gets invited to the table, regardless of their social status, race, religion, or beliefs. After all, peace is larger than just the green and the orange, it is a rich tapestry of colour.
As a person of faith, I am inspired by Islamic teaching. The very word “Islam” is rooted in the Arabic word ‘salaam’, meaning peace and also submission to God, who orders us in the Holy Quran to be just to all, and to maintain peace in society. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but a way of life that involves justice, practising compassion and empathy, and fostering harmony in society. As I am reminded by the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), if we really want to be considered as people of faith, none of us truly believes, until we love for others what we love for ourselves.
True peace demands inclusivity and diversity, not only tolerating our sometimes overt differences, but celebrating them, too, and realising that, as we get to know each other and when we get down to the nitty-gritty, we are not so different at all: with our everyday dreams, fears and hopes. In our increasingly inter-connected world, we must work together to address global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and the rhetoric of hate and fear. Peace is essential for us all: without peace, individuals cannot reach their full potential; societies cannot thrive, nor can we focus on preserving the environment and our natural resources.
For true peace, we all have a role to play: we should all be peacemakers: we owe it to ourselves, our communities, our planet and our future generations. Peace is a conscious effort that we all must make, it is not a destination but a path we choose to take. So, I invite you today to join us and be the peacemaker you can be.
The Holy Thursday Service will broadcast on RTÉ One Television at 4.40pm this Thursday 6th April (and an hour later 5.40pm on RTÉ 1+1) and also on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra / Longwave 252 at 7pm the same evening.
The whole programme will then be available on the RTÉ Player and Radio Player and there will be a piece on rte.ie also.
For further information:
Glencree Media Contact: Valerie Ringrose Fitzsimons | 086 3771020 | Valerie.email@example.com
True peace demands inclusivity and diversity, not only tolerating our sometimes overt differences, but celebrating them ...