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Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 10:19 GMT
Starting 2000 with a clean slate
Clean slates:big names back call

On New Year's Eve many people will be worrying about the champagne running out or the Y2K bug leading to a pile-up on the infobahn. But an internet campaign is calling on us to consider our past mistakes.

Into 2000
The Clean Slate Campaign is the brainchild of Edward Peters, who found burying the hatchet with estranged friends so rewarding he is encouraging everyone to make their own millennium acts of contrition.

Cleanslate.org's promise page
"People will wake up on 1 January and find that it's just the same as 31 December. If you've made an effort to wipe your slate clean you at least may feel different."

"We very easily carry around unfinished business, things that lodge in the mind," says Peters.

"Dealing with these things, unloading them, frees up a lot of energy, creative energy."

This call to "clean your slate" seems to feed off the age-old desire for forgiveness and spiritual rebirth - a desire seemingly heightened by the looming new millennium.

Gary Lineker Football star Gary Lineker is backing the campaign
Forensic psychologist Dr Bryan Tully says that feeling genuinely sorry for our wrongdoings, and confronting that regret, is a step towards resolving past events.

"Being remorseful is part of taking responsibility for what we have done and paying for our actions."

However, Dr Tully warns that merely confessing to something you regret may not be enough.

Confess with care

"It's very symbolic - but just because you have confessed it doesn't mean that the past has changed."

Admissions of guilt, particularly when they risk hurting innocent parties, should not be rushed into, says Dr Tully.

"Once uttered out of one's mouth, you've really had it."

Big names behind campaign
Lord Weatherill (above, from left)
Sir Bobby Charlton
Lisa Potts
Rabbi Jonathon Sacks
Gary Lineker
Mr Peters echoes such warnings: "We're not advocating confession - least of all public confession. We're interested in clean slate stories not dirty slate ones."

The Clean Slate website contains the tales of many who have already tried to make amends.

"Recently I lost my temper with a woman in a council department. The next day I took a box of chocolates to her office," writes one.

This call to action has attracted patrons from across the spectrum, including nursery heroine Lisa Potts, former football star Gary Lineker, journalist Libby Purves and religious leaders.

Mr Peters is keen to point out that despite the Christian significance of the millennium, the date offers us all a chance to take stock and take a practical steps to rectify our mistakes.

"There are many ways people may want to clean their slates, but that's up to them."

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