Clean Slate Guide
'WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN' CALL BY RELIGIOUS
AND POLITICAL LEADERS
Almost half the 80 patrons
of the Clean Slate Campaign gathered on December 1st 1999, to
endorse the idea of using the approaching new millennium as an
opportunity for a fresh start - personally and collectively.
In London's appropriately-named Reform Club, and by telephone
link in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, religious and political
leaders, sporting figures, media personalities and people from
all walks of ordinary life, gave their support. The conversation
was chaired by former BBC news presenter Martyn Lewis. This report
gives extracts from the contributions by some of the main speakers.
(For a summary see our press
release. Also pictures of
The Rt Rev. and Rt Hon. Richard
Chartres, Bishop of London:
I support this campaign for the reason that it is a very simple
idea which nevertheless expresses a deep spiritual truth. And
that truth is that when you put something right in your life,
when you forgive, you release a great deal of energy and defuse
Christians, of course, are coming up to the celebration of the
great jubilee year of 2000 and right at the centre of that jubilee
year is the idea that the rich nations of the world should cancel
the unpayable debts of some of the poorest nations of the world.
That's one way of embodying this simple 'wipe the slate clean'
campaign theme. But we shouldn't just point the finger at other
people and demand that they take action. If there is to be a
real change, a real revolution, as always it has to begin with
me and with us. It's extraordinarily important that we all recognise
our personal role in making sure that the world is a much more
peaceful and constructive place for the next millennium.
One action can reverberate infinitely. I hope very much that
as people quietly take action themselves and reflect on this
campaign they'll see the importance of reverberation, of goodness
and moral action.
It's good to be sharing this initiative with so many representatives
of the great world faiths.
Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks:
This is a wonderful idea, which of course I warm to, and we all
do in the Jewish community because it's the kind of thing we
try to do. Each Jewish New Year, between New Year and the Day
of Atonement, we say sorry to people we've offended and we try
and make amends to those we've harmed. Sometimes, of course,
it can be very difficult.
There is too much pain in this world and the most tragic - because
it is the most avoidable - is the pain that we cause one another.
And how simple it is to undo it by simple words, by saying sorry,
by saying thank you, by saying "I was wrong", by saying
"Forgive me". At the heart of Clean Slate is a profound
idea also at the heart of so many of our faith traditions. It
is never too late to mend relationships that have been broken
or never too late to heal people we have harmed. It is never
too late. It is never too soon.
When many of us begin to change ourselves, together we begin
to change the world.
Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary
General of the Muslim Council of Britain:
This is a very simple message, but a very powerful one. I'm sure
that many of us, particularly those of us who come from Africa,
remember that in school we used to have slates, and we used to
wipe them clean several times a day.
As human beings we are prone to cause harm and anguish. At this
time, when we are looking forward to how we can better participate
together in society, the best way would be to accept one's own
faults, to amend them. To take the initiative of trying to correct
ourselves in very simple ways. I am honoured to be part of this
campaign and I am sure its message will go across the country,
across the nation.
Cardinal Cahal Daly, former
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
(speaking from Belfast):
The Clean Slate Campaign might have been designed for us in Northern
Ireland because we are engaged in a historic attempt to begin
the new millennium with a new and clean slate. I feel the hand
of God has been in this campaign. All of our great religious
traditions, all the great world religions, give a central place
to sorrow, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation - and all
these are central to the Clean Slate Campaign.
The Duke of Montrose (speaking
This is a great opportunity
for Scotland. The basic principles of the Clean Slate Campaign
could give Scotland a fresh start with our new Parliament and
a new millennium. It is one way to cure the nagging bitterness
that has dogged so many of us and contributed to a habit of blaming
others. On a day like this when we hear from Ireland of what
they are facing and when so many hurts will have to be forgiven
and healed there, it does give a good perspective for us in Scotland
to think that the Scots could show the Irish what is possible.
Nia Rhosier, General Secretary,
Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales (speaking from Cardiff):
This simple idea, if taken really seriously, could have such
beneficial consequences. We in Wales are very much aware of the
importance of discarding a lot of baggage and of facing the pain
of history with courage. But having cleaned our slates, we must
be ready with new ideas and attitudes to take us forward. I've
been involved in the ministry of reconciliation and I'm finding
the campaign a valuable asset in my work.
Ann Widdecombe MP, Shadow
One very significant patron who gave a lot of backing to this
campaign and who sadly is not here today was Cardinal Basil Hume.
I am tremendously grateful for the way that he did decide that
the Catholic Church should play a full role in this initiative.
I think a lot of us in Parliament who have faith have become
increasingly concerned at the way that the millennium appears
to be completely divorced from the spiritual message that should
be going with it. At the same time, we wanted a way forward that
could embrace those of all faiths and none. So that we could
all join together in a significant act to recognise the millennium.
When the new year comes, we all make resolutions. That always
concerns some amendment of conduct for the future - normally
broken in February and forgotten by March. But this seems to
me different because it means not promising oneself that one
would do something, but obliging oneself actually to do something.
The Rt Hon David Blunkett
MP, Secretary of State for Education, sent a message: "I am very sorry that I
cannot attend your event today, but I would like to take this
opportunity to wish the Clean Slate Campaign every success. I
am very happy to support this excellent initiative. Everyone
can think of something that they either should have done, or
should not have done, and the Clean Slate Campaign provides an
opportunity not only to start afresh, but to learn from the past
and behave differently in the future. I hope that as many people
as possible can begin the new Millennium by 'wiping the slate
Lord Alton of Liverpool stressed that wiping the slate clean
was not just a personal matter. He said that the 99 members of
Liverpool City Council, in an unprecedented unanimous vote, had
just passed a resolution acknowledging and expressing regret
for the city's three centuries of involvement in the slave trade.
I think the attraction of it is that it is such an incredibly
simple, straight-forward, easy-to-execute idea. The Clean Slate
Campaign means saying you're sorry, it means mending fences,
it means doing something that you might not otherwise have done
if something like this had not been here to give you that nudge.
There has been a very powerful message of reconciliation here
today. A real frisson went through me when I realised how many
of our religious leaders are here today, speaking with one voice,
and how powerful that is. There is a clear opportunity here for
people to do things in a very private, personal way which will
help them as individuals, and ultimately help to make the towns
and cities in which they live, the country in which they live,
a better place.