We are all the sum of our past. Though born as one, none of us remains a blank sheet. We absorb. We are moulded and, eventually, reflect experiences we know as a lived life.
For those whose happiness is shaped by tragedy or injustice, this process can be a burden. All across Northern Ireland, and in other corners of these islands, there are people touched by the 30 years of needless Troubles.
Some of them, a majority hopefully, have come to terms — even if uneasy, unsettled terms — with that tragedy. Others may not have.
Yesterday’s announcement that the British government has formally unveiled a long-delayed consultation on proposals to deal with the toxic legacy of the Troubles may help that process.
A process like this is often about a cleansing that, eventually, consigns ghosts to their rightful place. It is also about establishing the truth and by so doing, helping deep wounds heal — even if far later than they might have.
Because we are human, it can often be an opportunity to politicise the past even more than it has been already.
That prospect already seems a threat in this process, so it is fair to ask if it is about healing, or renewing division.
The past can not be undone or forgotten, but sometimes it’s best to keep it at an arm’s length remove from today.
Unless all of those participating in this process are driven by the highest motives, this process will fail. Let’s have the truth — but we’ve had more than enough myth-making.