I read an article by a journalist called David Rieff exploring the idea that there are times when history can do more harm than good.

He recalled a time in 1993 when he was a reporter in the bitter and shockingly bloody war in Bosnia.

He went to Belgrade to interview a Serb nationalist called Vuk Draskovic who was leading the fight against Slobodan Milosevic, and he wrote: “As I was leaving his office, one of Draskovic’s young aides pressed a folded bit of paper into my hand. It turned out to be blank except for a date: 1453 the year Orthodox Constantinople fell to the Muslim Ottomans.”

Even if we know little about the causes of the Bosnian conflict, it’s a sobering thought that a young man was inspired to kill by events that happened more than 500 years earlier.

Rieff wrote: “It seemed as if the ‘sores of history’ remained unhealed more than half a millennium later.”

As I read the piece, I thought of our own land.

I also read a quote about the end of the American Civil War in 1865 which recalled: “After the guns fell silent, another form of battle raged over whose version of the conflict would prevail.”

Another lesson from history for us, no?

The danger is that the failure throughout centuries to address divisions between our people can, God forfend, result in a continuous cycle of conflict. It certainly can’t be broken by repeatedly rehearsing the causes of conflict in what remains a divided society with competing narratives.

We’re now approaching the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which should be a stark reminder of negotiations involving a previous generation of courageous leaders. We should remind ourselves of why they needed to make the Agreement in the first place.

The latest cycle of conflict had lasted a quarter of a century, a conflict which had seen us slip further and further into the abyss with thousands dead, many more thousands injured, and many others left with a residual hurt and trauma which continues through generations.

It’s a concern sometimes that the younger generation don’t really appreciate just how raw, ugly and deeply awful the conflict was for so many people on all sides; indeed, some people who do remember need a jolting reminder of how bad it was.

This week, we have heard of an upgrading of the security threat following an assessment by MI5. It’s just a few weeks after the horrible attempt to kill a PSNI officer John Caldwell when many people were shocked, not just by the callous and brutal act but by the thought that there are still people prepared to engage in bloody murder.

Loyalist paramilitarism still hasn’t gone away either and it seems to be a scourge as much on the loyalist community as anyone; nevertheless, sinister and threatening noises are often made from loyalism about not getting its own way politically.

We should not overplay a possible return to violence; a society that has moved on finds the thought abhorrent and many people think any paramilitary campaign isn’t sustainable in the long-term.

Neither should we be complacent, though, about sleepwalking back to the bad old days by failing to address divisions and promoting a future in which all sections are included.

From what I remember, The Good Friday Agreement was not an end in itself but was intended to end that phase of violence. Unionists agreed to share power with Nationalists and, more significantly, with their nemesis of Irish Republicanism.

For their part, Republicans agreed to decommission their weapons and enter the bastion of Unionist power at Stormont to help administer a Northern Ireland State they had been attempting to overthrow.

For the first time, both sections of the community felt they had a stake in running this place, while allowing them to have their identity respected and giving everyone space to pursue their legitimate political aspirations peacefully. It was quite a prize.

There were tough decisions for everyone, but although there were sections of people against the Agreement more than 70 per cent of the people voted in favour of it in a referendum in 1998.

All these years on, there are arguments about who benefitted most from the Good Friday Agreement, indeed if there was a benefit at all. But those trying to unpick the Agreement by suggesting it has been implemented unfairly are the very people who always opposed it for the very reason that they cannot stomach sharing Northern Ireland.

The question for them remains, pull down power-sharing and then what?

The Eamon Mallie interview on UTV on Tuesday evening with former PUP leader, Dawn Purvis reminded us of the visionary leadership of loyalism at the time of the Agreement when the sadly-missed David Ervine wanted to lead his community away from paramilitarism.

Ms Purvis said: “Unionism has done a bad job selling itself and implementing the Good Friday Agreement compared to Republicans. Unionism hasn’t demonstrated to the Unionist population that it is serious about building a Northern Ireland of equals.”

It’s a key point.

Many people are frustrated at the continuing political mess here; no Stormont means our politicians aren’t addressing a range of day-to-day issues at a time when people are struggling including groups helping vulnerable people who are seeing their funding cut.

It’s all exacerbated by the fact that the continuing vacuum sends a dangerous message that politics doesn’t work and prolonging that could mean it would be all too easy to slip back.

After 25 years, the political arrangements set up under the Good Friday Agreement and changed at St. Andrews do need to be tweaked, naturally enough. The fallibility of a system which allows one party to bring everyone crashing down is there for all to see.

It isn’t that simple, though. Despite the increase in the middle ground, any system must stick to the principle of involving both the traditional communities.

Agreement was made initially that allowed, for the first time, the Nationalist and Republican communities to feel involved in running Northern Ireland. It would be counter-productive in such a divided place to go 180 degrees and exclude the Unionist community.

To achieve that, leadership across the board must accept that the only way forward is, as Dawn Purvis said, to create a Northern Ireland of equals. As we learn from history, breaking the cycle of past hurts is not easy and will require the courage and foresight of real leadership.

We must not go back to a dark past.