One place where rioting broke out last week was particularly upsetting to me. That was in Belfast, North Ireland. After hundreds of years of violent struggle the Irish had finally achieved a truce that has been working and they have had a relative peaceful decade. I hope not, but that may be changing.
Both sides in the current sectarian violence have groups which are all too anxious to allow the violence to erupt again. The “Real” IRA (RIRA) is a republican, mostly Catholic, splinter group of the IRA that uses terrorist and guerrilla tactics against the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland. Don’t worry, the Protestants have their killers and thugs too. They have the Ulster Volunteer Force (UFV) and it appears these are the chaps that, wearing masks, went into a small Catholic enclave in Belfast and began throwing stones and “petrol bombs” at homes in the area. That naturally evoked a response from the RIRA, who were only too wiling to respond in kind.
There is a long and complicated history to all of this but at its roots this is another case of sectarian conflict. That should not surprise anyone. Religion has been used as an excuse for war throughout history. When you think about it, that is so hypocritical. It is one reason that I have a very hard time tolerating religious extremists of any kind (be they Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Catholics or any others). You do not have to agree with me, but if you don’t see the hypocrisy in it just take Ireland as an example. Both sides, Protestants and Catholics, are Christians, right? Well, ask yourself, what would Jesus Christ say about throwing “petrol bombs” into homes with women and children inside? Or about setting off bombs in stores or on street corners? Tell me, just where is the moral authority of any religious group that tolerates those kinds of acts?
I know, I know, there is more than just religious conflict involved. Well fine, stop the hypocrisy of hiding behind religion and talk about those issues. Solutions would be far easier to find and live with. Different religions can live together in peace. Look at us here in the United States. Yes, we have had some religious violence and intolerance -but for the most part we have an extremely religiously diverse population -and our Baptists do not go around blowing up our Jews and our Catholics do not throw “petrol bombs” at the Latter Day Saints!
A great deal of the responsibility must be laid at the feet of the religious leaders. As long as the Ministers, Preachers, Priests, Rabbis and Imams tell their devoted followers that they are the chosen ones and are therefore superior to all others and as long as they fail to condemn the violence in no uncertain terms, there will be death and destruction. As long as they allow their religions to be used as an excuse for killing, they are a part of the problem and not the solution.
Ireland has seen 10 years of peace. They have proven it can be achieved. I hope that calm heads will prevail on that beautiful little island with its rich culture. I hope the murderers and thugs itching for a return to violence will be shouted down and run out. Ireland deserves peace. I hope they find it.
Live Long and Prosper....