The recent disturbances in Northern Ireland during the summer, coupled with the previous ongoing surface issues of flag protests, loyalist unrest and the general unease and lack of stable united government in Northern Ireland has continued to infiltrate my thoughts in recent weeks.
I have debated whether to even post this latest writing or not, but in the end, decided if it’s to be of benefit or thought-provoking on any level to even just one person, then it’s worth it. So grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and here goes.
History has always been a personal passion, not least since my enthusiastic, influential history teacher as an impressionable 11-year-old grabbed my attention and installed some grounded awareness of its inherent usefulness into me at a young age. Without understanding the past, we fail to move wisely into the future. Ignorance is not bliss, and in the context of Northern Ireland, (where there are such incredibly large amounts to be pondered!) this is perhaps even more so the case.
In the context of Northern Ireland, in order to move forward into a better future, I remain convinced we must deal diligently with the past. Not just with political solutions, but as a follower of Jesus, I believe in much greater kingdom solutions, which in themselves offer the only possibilities of permanent peaceful change and solidified stable future. The politicians can do their best, and indeed must, but kingdom solutions prevail.
The problem is, this land, north and south, remains under deep influence of the blood sacrifices with which both the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland, came into existence. (n.b.This might seem like its turning into a political blog post, but stick with me, I can assure you it’s not. )
As we rapidly approach the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, which eventually led to the Irish War of Independence, (and the subsequent parallel establishment of the Province of Northern Ireland made up of 6 of Ireland’s counties, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Down, Londonderry, Antrim and Armagh), it is perhaps time for a generation which knows little of these events to take a purposeful look back, in order to move more healthily forward into the positive shared future this fabulous emerald island has yet ahead of it.
I leave it there for now, and hope this has whetted your appetite.
The spiritual nature of this island, and a choice to enter into following Jesus in this land, lends itself to an intentional historical understanding of the dynamics of this island’s make-up. The often inextricable links between politics and religion in this land, (both north and south of the border) mean one cannot be isolated from consideration of the other.
Come back soon for the second part of this post. It wouldn’t be the same without you.