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Declaring Peace

Did you ever think it would end like this?

(ulster christian)

I used to lie in bed listening to the late news on the radio. Another Killing. Another man gunned down on a street corner or blown up on his tractor. Another car bomb pulling tons of rubble down on screaming shoppers. Another policeman, another soldier, another schoolchild, another bus driver, another taxi man, or civil servant, or office worker who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I used to wonder, " How will this all end?? "

I used to fantasise about a bright Spring morning when the announcemnet came that it was all over. The killing had stopped. That twenty or thirty or forty years of pointless carnage had finished.

I lay and thought about what it would be like to step quietly into the street that first morning and find my neighbours already there To stand together under a blue sky, Roman Catholic and Protestants, Unionists and Nationalists, for all I know, and together drink deep of this strange Wonder called " Peace ".

And in the distance a church bell would ring out clear in the still air, and then another and another. The pealing of bells from every church and chapel, announcing the peace across this little province. Across the hills and streams and green pastures and rich ploughed farmlands. Across the cemeteries and hospitals across the fortified police stations and army barracks, across the graffiti covered ghettos, where a full generation had been robbed of the only chance it ever had of a decent way of life.

And then singing and the dancing and the feasting and long lost friends meeting again across the peace lines. And the barricades torn down and the security gates swung wide, and in every town and city and village, people, whom politics and twisted religion had kept apart, came together again in one great cheering, laughing, street party. The men of violence had lost and the people had won the peace.

All that is a hopelessly naive dream, of course. The politicans and the terrorist can't do anything right here; even declare peace properly!

We don't have " Peace "; we have a " Ceasefire ". The fighting hasn't stopped, it's just petered out. The " War that wasn't ", has become a " Peace that isn't ".

And so there are no street parties; no singing; no dancing. Doors are still barricaded. people move uncertainly. Armoured police vehicles still crawl like large grey insects down the darkened streets. Foreign businessmen hold their breath and their investments. And the people, the ordinary decent people of this country have been robbed again.

Robbed of the chance to stand together and celebrate peace.