Crafting Gentleness

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

David Ervine: A Gentle Warrior, RIP

I was talking to a documentary maker yesterday and mentioned the phrase 'the politics of gentleness' in the conversation. There was the usual look of pleasantly-surprised intrigue followed by a furrowed brow of puzzlement. What struck me, though, was that the first person he mentioned when he thought of forgiveness was David Ervine, a Northern Irish politician who died a few weeks ago. This was a little strange, as David tends to be one of the first people I think of as a paradigm of what I mean when I speak of an attitude of gentleness, and yet not someone that I imagine many people would choose to represent gentleness.

David Ervine was a man who called a spade a spade and always spoke from a place of honesty and integrity. He lived a life in a cauldron of violence, had often lived by violence himself, but his later life was lived in deep respect for others and their lives, their stories, and what they valued, and with a deeply personal and helpful political engagement with the situations in which he found himself. I'm glad that more than me think of him as a gentle man. Thanks, David.


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