Restoring Community

Jo Berry, from Lisa Rea interview at Restorative Justice OnlineJean Schmitz, director of IIRP Latin America, sent me a link to this piece he found at RJOnline (originally posted last May). It's a lengthy interview by Lisa Rea of Jo Berry, the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, a member of parliament in the Thatcher government, who was one of five people killed by IRA bomber Patrick Magee in 1984. In 2000 she finally had the opportunity to meet with Magee. Berry begins:

I need to begin my story two days after the bomb went off that killed my father. I remember being overwhelmed with feelings of shock and trauma as well as awareness that now I was part of a war. Two days after my father was killed I made a silent vow to bring something positive out of the destruction to try and understand those that killed him. I was without a map and support but knew I could trust that life would bring me the opportunities that I needed.

Prior to the meeting with Magee, which took many years to come to pass, and as part of her personal preparation to meet him, Berry reflects:

I also met ex‐combatants and found that by seeing them as human beings, discovering their humanity, I was discovering my own humanity. After a particularly intense weekend where I had spent all my time with four ex‐IRA guys, I woke up overcome with feelings of betrayal. These men could have killed my dad and I had walked in the hills with them. I felt the feelings of betrayal and discovered a wall of pain. I cried for hours and hours, and afterwards I knew that the saddest thing was they were my brothers not my enemies. I concluded that the truth was that there is no us and them but only you and me. The idea we cannot be friends with the other side is a myth that keeps us from realizing that we are all brothers and sisters.

(all emphasis added by me)

Berry goes on to discuss the meeting, her philosophy and the organization she started, Building Bridges for Peace. You can download the full pdf version of this interview here.