Greetings and salutations!
For those who don't already know, I returned Saturday from a really really big roadtrip this time, and unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) there were no giant milk bottles, or other roadside oddities of the ilk I usually post. Apparently the folks in Northern Ireland and Ireland just let the natural landscape and the Guiness speak for themselves!
This was a trip of a lifetime; a "return to the homeland" if you will to see from whence my ancestors emigrated to the New World. Oh and did I see.
A long time ago a dear friend (from Ireland no less) asked me if my heart bled Green or Orange. Rather ignorantly, I replied (since the majority of my kin are from the North) that I secretly bled Orange. Oh how I now take that back!
Now wait, I don't mean that I'm switching loyalties to Green from Orange. I mean that now that I have a much better understanding of just what the division between the two countries means and how it has come about over all these years, and how the media and the politicians manipulate and weasel and lie in order to maintain control, I understand now how I could not possibly ever choose a side. There ARE NO sides. There are people. Not "them" and "us" but our friends, our families, our neighbors. People with whom we may disagree but whom we respect anyway. People from all races, creeds and religions who have been dehumanized over generations in an attempt to cope with fears.
I loved Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. The people were intelligent and friendly, the Guiness was cold and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The absolute same can be said of the Republic of Ireland. Unfortunately, in NI some have taken the Troubles and made them into some kind of gimicky tourist spectacle. The disgusting BBC doesn't even acknowlege the Republic on the news unless a story is so major it's required. There is no mention of the rest of the Emerald Isle during the weather report. In the Republic, I witnessed the fear and disdain in the eyes of of the performers caused by a man with a bit too much drink in him ranting about politics and almost requiring the bouncers. While it's generally peaceful everywhere, for the hardliners it seems as if you acknowledge that the old ways are no longer necessary it is too much to tolerate because it somehow invalidates the position you may have stood up for your whole life.
At any rate, I truly loved both NornIron and Ireland. Wish I could afford to go back any time I desired for a visit. And to my old friend and to all my new friends, I'm sorry for my earlier ignorance. I pray for peace to continue and for subsequent generations to learn tolerance and even empathy. There is no Green or Orange. Only Red for the red-blooded people who want to raise their families in loving homes and enjoy their blessings.
PS Since nobody at home wants to listen to all my vacation stories, you dear reader are going to be the recipient. As my buddy Steve would say, "Enjoy. Or not."