David Stevens Memorial Lecture

Reconciliation and 'The Intimacy of Honest Differences'

A Talk in Memory of Dr. David Stevens, 26 March 2019 by Derick Wilson.

My close friend David Stevens passed away in 2010.

A major theme for David was that “reconciliation involves people finding a way of living together in difference”.

It is only when open and honest relationships are established that people can experience ‘the intimacy of honest differences’, the robust conversations that take us all forward beyond the cultures of silence, denials, and evasions-away from cultures of separation, avoidance and politeness that exhaust us and do not move us forward.

It is almost 21 years after the 1998 Good Friday / Belfast Agreement and we are still having to argue for, and promote, a practice that nurtures safe spaces, brings people from diverse experiences together and, in new relationships, honestly share their differences. In societies where political momentum falters, as here, peace processes are fragile (see John Braithwaite).

Especially in the continued absence of a devolved administration, our task is still to grow robust civil society engagements and respectful political engagements, in order to prepare an informed and imaginative civic ground capable of engaging with politics as it evolves here.

A robust civil society culture would be enhanced if we all ‘worked in the knowledge of one another’, sought not to compete or speak badly of one another, and supported practice cultures characterised by the ‘intimacy of honest differences’

Further Reading