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Dick Godfrey's column
Date : Tue, 27 April, 1999

LAST year, I devoted a column to the idea of apologising for things in our past of which we now feel ashamed.

It was prompted by the very important work being done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and I suggested it could usefully be transposed to a personal level.

It struck a chord and a number of people wrote and spoke to me of their enthusiasm for the conscience cleansing approach.

I would like to say that a nationwide movement which has been launched along these lines is a result of my efforts. But rather than stock up another chunk of guilt, I won't.

However, the Oxford-based Clean Slate Campaign does exist and I am pleased to record its existence. Its basic premise is admirably simple. It wants each one of us to clean our personal slate either by apologising to somebody we have offended, or to decide to change an aspect of our character with which we are, if we think deeply about it, unhappy, in what might be described as a Millennium Resolution.

I have already decided that I shall cease to be as assertive and domineering in the home as I know I am inclined to be. Humility will not come easy but I shall give it my best shot.

''It is also about righting wrongs,'' said Clean Slate Campaign director Christopher Morgan when I spoke to him a few days ago, explaining how he had already phoned a few people he realised he had offended in past years. He suggests that going public with apologies or resolutions will help encourage the more timid. To this end, I am throwing this column open to those brave souls who wish to come clean. I know you are out there. Perhaps an appearance in this column will effect a reconciliation, who knows. Do write. You know it will do you good.


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