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08 July 2016

When hindsight isn’t so beautiful and hope is much better looking…

When hindsight isn’t so beautiful and hope is much better looking…

Selina Stone is community organiser at the Centre for Theology and Community and a PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham

Hindsight has a certain beauty they say, but not when it comes to war, it seems.

This week saw the release of the Chilcot Report, the result of a seven-year inquiry into whether it was right and necessary to invade Iraq in March 2003 and whether the UK could – and should – have been better prepared for what followed. The inquiry chair, Sir John Chilcot, concluded that evidence of WMD was not certain, invasion was not the only option, the consequences were underestimated and the UK did not achieve its objectives.

In the light of these revelations, various groups including the families of soldiers and civilians killed in the Iraq War are calling for Tony Blair, the then prime minister, to be prosecuted.

For the hundreds of thousands of protestors and other members of the public who stood against the war in Iraq in February 2003, this process only confirms what they already believed. All around the world citizens gathered to demonstrate against military action that went ahead anyway.

The result: the loss of countless lives, traumatised communities and nations in turmoil.

This week it seems that the truth is out, but has it set us free?

The pursuit of truth is a very human endeavour, whether in our personal relationships or in relation to historical events or scientific facts. We want to know what that friend really meant, we want to know who shot Tupac or maybe JFK, and whether there really life on other planets. Our lives and experiences are often shrouded in mystery.

However, when it comes to issues of suffering, the pursuit of truth is so much more crucial: truth paves the way for justice, and justice gives rise to hope.

"If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you an advocate to help you and be with you forever — the spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you"John 14:15-17. Some of our neighbours will feel personal pain as they recall the loved ones who may have fallen in combat or the loss of friends, family, homelands and cultural memory. The spirit of truth who is with us, would lead us to acknowledge what has happened through the stories of those who suffer, which is the beginning of their healing and the hope of our reconciliation.

For the rest of us, we may mourn alongside our neighbours and our heavenly Father as we witness the loss of human life and community, but this grief is itself a work of the spirit of truth, reminding us that we are made in the image of God, made for a greater existence than that which we now experience.

The yearning of our own souls for peace around the world as well as in our localities, draws us to seek a kingdom here, but not yet here.

While we find ourselves in the anticipation of this kingdom, may we also strive to love more deeply and listen more truly, to God and to those around us. Listening is itself an act of love that puts the other first and gives them the honour of sharing their truth.

As we discover the truth of God and ourselves, and our neighbours, may it lead us to seek greater justice and to Iive in deeper hope.