With conflict in the Middle East burning as hot as a California wildfire in spring and strife in Chechnya hardly close to a conclusion, a bucketful of hope seems ready to put out the coals of one long-painful blaze for good.

The devastating conflict between Protestants and Catholics over control of Northern Ireland looks close to peace. On March 26, prominent Protestant politician Ian Paisley sat down with Gerry Adams, a Catholic and leader of Sinn Fein, a political party originally formed as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, in an unprecedented display of compromise and hope.

With so many reasons to lose hope for peace around the world, the meeting stands as a beacon of promise for a better future in Northern Ireland and countries like Chechnya and Israel, where historical territorial conflicts and irredentism have long blocked cease-fires and reconciliations.

As Paisley put it in remarks given at the meeting, “We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future.”

I agree. I only wish more world leaders came to recognize that constantly using the past to justify present atrocities and violence only perpetuates hatred and misunderstanding among races, religions, nations, and states.

We don’t have to forget the past to bring a happier future; we need to be willing to move past it. Otherwise the fires will keep on raging.

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