Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Troubles?

I remember very vividly the week I spent in Belfast. It changed my head. I knew my family came from Ireland, knew of the Troubles, but not until a few weeks before I left, I didn't know my family came specifically from the north, and until I got there, I had no real idea of the reality there. The division of Belfast - material, spiritual - splits my head still. One thing that stood out to me most was a tour we took of the Catholic/Protestant neighborhoods - streets like Shankhill divided like some contested border - and the tour guide putting the difficulty down primarily to the relative poverty of the area. Up the road near Queens, the realtive prosperity of that part of town saw a healthier, less hostile environment. Indeed, the Celtic Tiger gave all Ireland a reason to look forward and not behind; the economy exploded, and with each year, it seemed the Troubles were finally over.

Maybe not.

Ireland's economy, like the world's, has collapsed and just like that, the IRA - or some semblence of it - is back to killing. This time, though, it seems that neither Protestants nor Catholics are willing to let the madness of a few pull every one under. The news here in America sadly reads the same way - a man just killed ten people in Alabama, a student walked into a school in Germany and killed nine. Maybe it's not the global economic crisis; maybe it's just coincidence. Does money salve political wounds? Religious? When the pot is empty, do we fill it with anger? Hate?

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