As I deal with the intractable and the intangible … I find myself pondering what risks becoming a sort of mantra: ‘Never allow anybody to say a final and definitive “No”‘ Why not? Because, once they have done that, everything locks. It then requires a measure of face-losing climb down for further movement to take place. So I sit in sometimes difficult meetings trying to keep things fluid and open and hoping that I can find an agreed way forward – and that the Spirit will move.
Paradoxically, back in Northern Ireland, it sometimes seemed to be the right thing to allow somebody to say ‘No’ – indeed people often said No/Not an inch/ No surrender with great gusto. Better in those circumstances to know where you are. Better to hear the flat negative than the softer words which seemed more open but were not really so.