Jonjo and Marianne are pupils at New Hall School, where they first heard Barry and Margaret share Jimmy’s story two years ago
Having found the experience very moving, they have since strived to be as understanding and patient as possible, in order to build a stronger community for themselves and those around them. Following Jimmy’s ten year memorial, they shared what forgiveness, peace and hope means to them and why it’s fundamental to building strong communities.
“The thing that hit me about Jimmy’s story is that it could have been anyone; it could have been any of my friends, it could have been me. That’s the importance of the message and if everyone had a higher level of consciousness — was more patient and understanding, then I think it could prevent things like this happening again. I think it’s about building community. It’s not about the event itself, it’s about the reaction to the event. I think that’s what really defines and helps the community afterwards.
Community itself is not about a geographical area. I think a lot of people think, ‘If I live in this area, I’m part of a community’ but I think community is about the people and their relationship with each other. You really need to work to build and reinforce community. Obviously culturally shared tradition and history is a part of it but I think it’s important that communities have a shared plan to move forward. If you have the same ideas and goals, I think that is what makes you a community. It could be in a school it could be as a country but if you have that common goal and mutual respect, that’s what makes a community. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you’ve come from, it’s where you want to go that matters.
“I want the best for my local area, I think everyone does and that’s what draws us together. We might have political differences or religious differences but we still have the same goal, we just have different interpretations of how to get there.”
When I first came to New Hall School, I saw myself as a bit of an outsider. I overcame that by trying to integrate into the set of existing goals but at the same time, trying to retain my own identity and my own voice. I don’t think a community is a community if you can’t hear individual voices and I think that is really important. It’s about getting the right balance between integration and your own identity.
Hope is the knowledge that you’re not at the best place you can be now but the best place is still achievable. Everyone goes through hard times in their life and if you don’t retain hope, it’s an admission that you’re never going to get beyond where you are. You need to keep that hope to know that you deserve better and that maybe you’re not getting that now but it is very achievable and you can be better and you will be better. I think everyone knows their own personal limits and personal goals and only they can know that truly. Hope is a very personal journey — a personal quality and one we all need to have.
Forgiveness is a journey and once you get started, it’s a lot easier than people expect but at the same time, it’s the getting started that is really difficult. It again comes back to community; if you are a part of the community, you have the mutual respect and the trust that whatever someone else does, you have the strength to forgive them for the good of yourself, for the good of them and for the good of the community.”
“What I found very striking was the way Barry & Margaret were so honest about how hard it is to forgive. People tend to think forgiveness is something you just pull out of your pocket and that’s it but it’s a conscious decision, it’s not just something that happens. The fact that they were so honest about how tough it is to forgive made me more determined to try for myself and have it as a goal to aspire to as well. From their talk, I have found the courage to try and properly do it myself.
I don’t see peace as lack of conflict because there’s always going to be conflict because we’re not perfect. I see peace as the mutual respect and understanding that we’re all imperfect and then everybody having the strength to forgive each other no matter what happens. If everybody accepted that we’re all imperfect, that’s where peace will come from because then there’s no need to judge each other and I think judgement is where conflict comes from.
“The place you grew up, where you played sport as a child, those kinds of things, they’re all part of you. All those communities shape who you are in the end so I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I came from. I’m always going to carry that with me, they’ve made me who I am today.”
I understand hope in a way that it is not just, ‘I hope this will go well’. It’s a conscious move towards it. I see hope as a decision rather than just, ‘it will be fine’ because to be hopeful is an action, it is to maintain a positive mindset and know that things will get better. However, that also ties in with striving to make things better as well. You don’t just wait for things to get better because that’s not hopeful that’s complacent. If you are hopeful that means you are striving towards what you want and you believe in yourself that you can get there.”
Good Hope at New Hall School
The Good Hope café opened at New Hall School in 2016 and has become a valued part of the culture since. A firm favourite with teachers, parents and pupils alike, the café has been described as a haven of peace in what can be a highly pressurised environment.
To find out more about opening a Good Hope café in your school, college or university, please get in touch with us at [email protected]