Wednesday, 12 July 2017

From Belfast to London

by Desi Friel
Where does one begin?  

Someone once told me to write about what I knew and to relate my history in the light of current events.  Many people from our Muslim community have just been victims of a callous and cowardly act of attempted murder.  Call it subliminal horror or a deeply sad series of memories; not buried, but faded over the years.  But as with many others, I grew up in Belfast during one of the worst periods in our recent history.  So imagine if you will, becoming conditioned (beyond the religious nonsense of course), to being forever on your guard and learning to avoid potential danger by taking the right steps at the right time.  

You avoided the choke-points of confrontation, the road blocks (when you could), the inquisitorial nature of the forces of law and order, because you had an evidently Irish name. You left your friends, usually musicians from all sides of your community, said goodbye and hoped that nothing combustible would happen on your way home.  You walk through a park and are forever looking over your shoulder to make sure you are not being followed.  In public places you sit with your back to a wall for the best 180 degree view of your surroundings.

In short, you learn that (beyond the messed-up politics), you are as likely an innocent victim as anyone else.  News seeps in that someone you knew has been abducted by a torturing murder squad; just for being of the opposite persuasion.  Their body is found up the Cave Hill in a pitiful state and your blood boils with the indignation of an affront to humanity. Above all, you cry to the universe that the vast majority of the human beings you know are good, caring, loving people to whom violence is abhorrent.

That wee, insidious , poisonous, deranged minority of lunatics has tried to spread their ignorance and fear to the rest of the reservoir of humanity with whom you live, cheek by jowl.  Retaliation and hatred breeds more retaliation and hatred and spreads like a copy-cat cancer until their ignorance and hatred runs out of steam and they turn their Neanderthal attentions elsewhere.  The dark clouds of our recent tragedies have unveiled a silver lining without parallel, to those who would marginalise the poor and the under-privileged, and who would ignore the calls of those in greatest need.  It screams from the roof-tops: "Look, we will not be cowed, this is how a good and caring community really works.   We give what we can and we help where we may.  We are not idiots and we will show government what caring for society really means".

Fear of what is on the other side of the wall, panting and snuffling and following, can be crippling because you know that at the end of the wall there is a gap and that soon you either have to turn face and run, or confront your ignorance.   When you get to the gap you have been fearing, the friendly poodle licks your hand and your relief is compounded by the pride you take in having overcome your fear.

Most rational people have little doubt that those in so-called power may be nothing else but the mouth-pieces of the mandarins and oligarchs; perhaps the puppeteers need to listen as well as pulling the strings.  Love really is all there is
Desi xxx

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