September 20, 2017

Ian Paisley and the influence of personal change

Ian Paisley and the influence of personal changeIf Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness can become best buddies, surely just about anyone can be reconciled…

It seems to me Ian Paisley is an interesting example of how changing yourself changes the system—the world around you—especially if you are known to a lot of people.

If you’re not so familiar with the history…

As a Unionist preacher and politician in Northern Ireland, “Big Ian” began implacably and stridently opposed to any accommodation with the Republican side, and was a problem—repellent probably at times—to many. Yet he eventually travelled a journey of change (over decades) which led both to peace in Northern Ireland, and strong friendship with his principal adversary, Martin McGuinness—truly remarkable, considering the level of violence between their communities.

Disturbingly, in a way, if he hadn’t expressed (“bellowed” might be more accurate) such extreme views in the beginning, he might not have taken so many people with him—a critical mass—on the journey to reconciliation. It must have seemed that if he could move, anyone could move.

So “being the change” works. It’s influential.

With luck, you might not even need to bellow.

The story also shows…

To solve big, complex problems, we need to bring the pieces together, rather than have them separate, and apply a level of sophistication at least equal to the complexity.