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Monday, January 6, 2014

A Voice's Influence

by Stephen Miller

The Irish love to talk. A vast majority of the people I have encountered in Northern Ireland will gladly, unhesitatingly share their story and opinions with any willing listener. Late one night at a local pub in Derry I found myself in a conversation with a few young Irish men. They were a group of four who couldn’t be much older than twenty years of age. I eventually lead the conversation from discussing American football and Irish rugby to their experience of the troubles and the peace building process of their historical city. One of the young men, Michael, mentioned that time has distanced his generation from the troubles. He then revealed that he was a Protestant but two of the friends he was with were Catholic. Over-hearing this, Michael’s friends began to playfully joke together about how one religion was superior to the other. I laughed. It was refreshing to see the youth of Derry breaking the bonds of former societal norms to maintain healthy relationships with each other.

 Michael and his friends stated, “we don’t care” about religious or political difference. This statement was not one of rebellion or animosity, but one of purity, acceptance, and peace building. Michael also stressed that his impressions, knowledge, and feelings about the troubles and the sides involved were heavily influenced by his father, a man who’s generation owned the trouble times. Michael’s beliefs, as he made known, stemmed from many years of listening to his father’s opinion about the conflicts in Northern Ireland. Michael’s father, and the many men and women from his generation, heavily influence the young through their voice. The peace building process happens in the willingness to listen the voice of others. The Irish do love to talk, but they also appreciating listening.

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