The idea of a Clean Slate Campaign
resulted from a simple experience which Edward Peters, its Chairman,
had. He writes: My conscience had been bothering me over
the breakdown of a couple of friendships. I had hit back at some
friends who I felt had bad-mouthed me. I decided to apologise
for my part in this petty quarrel, and these friendships were
restored. This made me feel so much better. A little while later
I discovered that another old friend had held a resentment towards
me for something I had done 15 years earlier. I was horrified,
and apologised to this friend for the hurt I had caused. But
this episode also reminded me how easy it is to carry baggage
from the past, something unfinished which can weigh us down.
Suddenly I thought: wouldnt it be great if we could leave
behind the baggage of the past, rather than carrying it with
us into the new millennium from our past to start the
new millennium with a clean slate?
Edward mentioned the idea to
friends who encouraged him to develop it. He sounded it a few
public figures, who agreed to come on board as patrons. Slowly,
during the last part of 1998, the patrons list developed
reaching 80 by early 1999. Their extraordinary diversity signals
the fact that this is a non-political, non-denominational idea,
with no hidden agenda.
A small group, including charity
workers, a law student from the Asian community, an Imam and
a marketing professional of 30 years experience, put together
plans for the campaign. It would be built around the idea of
people signing the Clean Slate Promise, pledging to take
at least one practical step to clean their slates during 1999.
Limited time and resources pointed towards an organic, rather
than centrally-driven, campaign, with the idea being spread by
word of mouth and media interest.
As one journalist has written,
the Clean Slate Campaign is modest in its aims after
all, people are only being asked to put one thing right, and
its up to them to decide what it is. The hope of its organisers
is that the experience will give those who try it a taste for
new beginnings and that living with a clean slate will
become the habit of a lifetime.