…they have layers. Which is how I’m feeling about Northern Ireland. Every day we are here we get down another layer or two or five. Every time we meet someone new, whether it’s the Lord Mayor, a trauma expert, or a family affected by suicide, we can understand the lives of the people here just a little bit better. I don’t even know how to begin to describe the complexity of living here, because I don’t yet fully understand it for myself. Even if I did, I could never describe it because it needs to be experienced in person. Is all of this vague enough for you? I’m sorry, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the experience.
So far this week we have had all of those experiences and then some. Yesterday we were given a tour of Shankill Road and the Peace Wall by a Protestant man, Alfie, who’s son completed suicide a few years ago. Not only were we able to hear how the conflict has impacted the other side, we also heard how the increase in suicide has impacted everyone here regardless of a Catholic identity or Protestant identity. And then there is the phenomenon that is this Peace Wall, separating the two groups and helping to maintain the peace by keeping people apart. There are hand written messages all over the wall, most of which express a wish for peace. Many express a wish for the wall to be torn down. Some express violence toward Catholics. For now, though, there is still too much fear of what would happen if the wall were torn down.
“There are a million things I would die for. There is not one thing I would kill for!!!”
It’s called a Peace wall, it’s full of messages of hope, and yet we still find messages like this.
P.S. The title is a line from the movie Shrek, just in case anyone hasn’t seen it.