Sunday, 29 September 2013
The Past: Always looking back
Politicians reckon Northern Irelands past will be a ‘tougher issue to resolve’. I really have to laugh to myself sometimes when I hear people talking about ‘The Past’ because the issue is not The Past at all and THAT is the issue. The problem here is that we’re always looking back and the major stumbling block we all face is that WE CANNOT ACCEPT THE PAST. Humans don’t like change therefore the transition between the present and the future is turned into a place which is fraught with difficulty because we’re simply not accepting the fact that The Past DOESN’T EXIST. The future doesn’t exist either there is only this moment and if we don’t start focusing on NOW we’re doomed to constantly repeat our mistakes and we’re doing just that, RIGHT NOW.
I have been saying for years that we need to just allow each other to be and accept that we have different traditions and cultural quirks, we each simply are, and therefore they should be allowed, the traditions I mean. I grew up in a Nationalist/Republican tradition but I abandoned Republicanism in my late teens because I started studying History and I began to see major flaws in the ethos of Republicanism. I think Craigavon helped immensely with this because I was growing up with Catholics and Protestants and this meant I stopped noticing differences pretty early on and by the time I got to an age were I was ready to learn to I could see that the two communities here were not studying History in its entirety they were and are in fact studying versions of History.
I remember when the whole Drumcree thing was going on back in the mid nineties. I had not long come back from England at that time and I fell in with a couple of groups of people all of whom I knew from School and from growing up from before I had went over to England. Sometimes I would drink with the guys over at Drumbeg and at other times I would be over at Drumgor and Westacres. I didn’t realise what was happening at the time but I really got a sense of how people felt in a much fuller way by being in contact with both Loyalists and Republicans at that time.
I was working in Moypark and on a few occasions we would have to be sent home early due to threats of road closures and civil disorder because Moypark was close to Portadown. I remember saying to Catholics I was friends with and was working with that we should just let the Orange Order march and go indoors and wait until they had passed on and I got some really strange looks like I was crazy or something! The people who lived on the Garvaghy Road had and probably still have a very besieged mentality when it comes to matters of contentious marches and some of them would say things like “You have no idea what it’s like living here!” which more or less meant that I wasn’t entitled to have an opinion on an issue that I wasn’t directly aeffected by but I obviously was being effected by it just like everyone else in he area was. People were murdered during that time and it was horrible but I still kept finding myself back at the same conclusion and that was that if we get upset about something it is not just the thing which upsets that is the problem it is THE FACT THAT WE’RE ALLOWING IT TO UPSET US.
Both Traditions here use Marches and Commemorations to celebrate their History. The Protestants use the Poppy to remember their dead and the Republicans use the Easter Lily, I have worn both over the years out of principle but I wear neither now because I know something important about how those emblems are being used to keep an already deeply divided population further entrenched. Recently there was a lot of controversy about a Republican march in Castlederg and I thought exactly the same thing about that that I think about Orange Order Marches. Let them walk.
All sides in any conflict have the right to commemorate their dead in any way they see fit so long as they do it with dignity. If one side can use military trappings and flags and banners to do so then it should be that all sides can do this. If people within any organisations are complaining about what the other side is doing then they cannot be seen as trying to resolve the issues surrounding the conflict, rather they are looking for ways to continue it.
Peace and reconciliation is about giving those who were once your enemy the rights that your own combatants have in life after conflict and in death. No one side has a monopoly on grief and all sides have lost people. If you disagree with this you’re either a bigot or you haven’t grieved effectively…
You can look at this any way you wish but whether you like it or not the facts surrounding any conflict are very simple and easily explained:
It takes two groups of people to make a conflict so by reacting you are allowing the conflict to continue. People of a more extreme mindset will disagree with that because they will always blame the other side and that is a result of their mind being constantly in conflict mode. These people exist on both sides and there are many people here who go to church and preach peace and reconciliation but do not practice those sentiments. There are a lot of people here who are not outwardly angry or negative but their vitriolic words give away the fact that while they may not be violent they certainly keep things just as they are by being stubborn and deeply nasty with their thoughts and language.
If you cannot allow the other side to be you are responsible for deaths in the future and for allowing future generations to grow up in a land filled with hate and bitterness. This is almost like a form of generational child neglect because you will be helping the children of the future not to have a future with your hatred and inability to be tolerant. This does not just go for prods and taigs by the way. Any intolerance will be passed onto the next generation and if the next generation is angry and have issues with their emotions it is the fault of ALL OF US, NOW. Future suicide rates and drinking and drug problems and criminal activity are being forged here and NOW.
The only way to move forward here is to come to the very clear conclusion that THE PAST IS GONE and THE FUTURE WILL BE A RESULT OF YOUR ACTIONS NOW! NOW! If Republicans want to march and wear Easter Lilys they should be allowed to. Orange Order marches should be allowed to pass off peacefully and the rest of us should give both those Traditions the time and space to Commemorate their dead, because it is like a collective grieving process and they haven’t grieved properly. Either side should stop holding counter demonstrations and just go home and do something constructive until the roads have been cleared.
People have died let them rest with dignity and stop using them as tools for hatred. If you can not accept a personal death then you should think about going and talking to someone who is trained to deal with bereavement. If there are injustices we must trust that the law will do its job and sort those things out but if the law fails, and it sometimes does, we must let go and realise that if something is beyond our realm of control we must simply let it be and hope things will improve in the future. If you have anger and hatred towards anyone for any reason it is not their fault, it is your fault that you are allowing your emotions to grow out of your control. If you think hate and anger are acceptable then you will destroy your happiness and the happiness of those around you and your life will be miserable and unbearable.
If you find yourself being negative find something positive to do. Work for no money in your community and expect no reward or praise. Do it only because it’s the right thing to do.
Love and hate are merely interpretations of energy but the energy is the same so it is up to you which way that energy is used. If you have difficulty doing the right thing, you’re not trying hard enough. Try harder.
If you cannot Accept and respect the traditions of other people then you are just as responsible for the continuing intransigence as the other side are. In any conflict the reaction of one side to the other is what allows the whole thing to continue. It takes a lot of courage to swallow your pride but if you can do it you will simply halt the difficulties before they even begin. If the other side continue to be angry after you have failed to respond it will not take long for them to show themselves up for what they are without your encouragement.
The problem here is not the past, IT IS THE PRESENT. The Past does not exist, the future does not exist there is only the present.
The key here is very simple. EVERYONE of us has got to ACCEPT that we’re all part of the problem. If the next person either won’t or can’t ACCEPT then that has nothing to do with you, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Stop looking at what other people are doing and focus on yourself and your own community. Stop the deeply judgemental thoughts about how others should behave and focus on the only thing that you can change, YOURSELF. You must take personal responsibility and let others either take or abandon their personal responsibility. If other people continue to do wrong it will become much more obvious, much quicker that they’re not pulling their weight in a world were most of the rest of us are living life the way it should be lived. It is none of your business what other people do or say even if they’re talking about you.
Let them go and focus on what you can work with.
Look after yourselves and one another.