How well can you multitask? Be honest. Some of you might describe your ability as top shelf; it’s as though you have an uncanny ability to perform two actions at once. Your attention can be placed onto multiple objects at the same time, and you are miraculously dexterous. But for the multitaskers among us, would you not agree that your aptitude for excellence increases when your mind’s eye is focused on a single target? If we have learned anything from Gold Leader, it is this: stay on target. Touché.
A short amount of detective work will reveal my lack of contribution to the blogosphere for several weeks. My extracurricular attention has been on the topic of Ireland (Éire), and more specifically on The Troubles. I’ve cracked open the door, and it is in the process of swinging open so that I may step inside. Let’s say that the room is much larger than I originally thought. Earlier dabbling in Irish history made me aware of their seven centuries of difficulty. Vaguely, I remember hearing about the violence in Ireland in the final decades of the last century, but I was unaware how bad things were.
“The tragedy of the last twenty-five years did come upon the two islands both gradually and suddenly – like bankruptcy. In fact, as we shall see, in a very real sense there was a bankruptcy, of policy, which led to the Troubles bursting upon an unsuspecting population with appalling suddenness. But the Irish agony had been building up slowly also, rooted in complex factors, one of which, geography, pre-dates the dawn of history: others involved the outworkings of two forms of colonialism, those of Mother Church and Mother England” (Coogan 1).
Tim Pat Coogan describes two islands, and I have two goals in this study. The two islands are Ireland and England. Goal 1: learn about The Troubles (late 1960’s through 1998). Goal 2: identify the underlying causes.
While Goal 1 is easier because it is the taking in of information, there’s a wide landscape to traverse. Dates, names, places, and events come by the boatload. The challenge is sifting through all of that to assist with Goal 2. On the surface, one could make a case for the causes being:
(1) English oppression of the Irish for centuries
(2) Catholic versus Protestant communities
(3) English governmental policy inadvertently fanning the flames of tension.
Above I asked the reader to be honest; now it’s my turn. This is my honest assessment of the causes of this conflict. So far. I’m still studying, and I may need to revisit these initial conclusions. But there it is folks.
I finished reading Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. The book’s aim is to tell about The Troubles through the stories of individuals on both sides of the conflict. Keefe describes key players in the Catholic Irish Republican Army (IRA), and those on the Protestant side, such as Ian Paisley and his followers. There was murder on both sides, intimidation from both sides, British heroism and British partisan errors, prolonged rioting, and an overwhelming sense of civil unrest. To name this period as “The Troubles” seems a fitting title for the Irish agony during these decades. I had no idea things were this bad.
Could the situation be boiled down to this: Catholic versus Protestant? Is it really about religious hate? No question about it: religion is one aspect of this conflict. However, it is an oversimplification to say it is only about religion. My threefold root-causes above are why I say this. Truthfully, my fear is that when it’s all said and done, I will be proven wrong and it was primarily about religious conflict. If that turns out to be the case, I will be especially disappointed in the Protestants who furthered the threatenings and the violence. We’ll see.
Studying my Irish heritage has become a passion. I want to know where we’ve been to have a better idea of where we’re going. As a Christian, I want to hang an additional element from my rear-view mirror: my true identity is in Jesus Christ first. Everything else comes second, even whatever percentage of Irishness that is within me. Knowing more about the Irish will also shed light on how the Lord has been working on the island of Éire, and I pray the Great Commission would extend to that isle just as it does to the four corners of the earth.
Still reading. Still learning. Still more to come.
Reader, thank you for journeying with me,