Community, social justice and activism play pivotal roles for writers. As M.Lynch said, “There needs to be a conflict. No conflict, no story”.
Social change or reform can be both positive and negative and in doing so, it resides differently within everyone. That being said, I now truly believe you cannot fully feel what others do unless you submerge yourself in the culture. Nessa and Malcahi each described The Troubles, and conflict within the Irish community, and I thought I understood it. There truly is a difference between thinking and seeing. My second trip to Belfast, Jen and I were escorted by Malachi to see the “bonnys” being built and the marching of the parade.
Everything felt tense.
At an event where a part of community comes together, bands are playing and children are waving their handheld flags, everyone seemed angry. For the most part no one was smiling, it was truly bizarre to see. We minded our own business and tried to fit in as much as we possibly could, until I felt a tap on my shoulder. I, much like most of the people at the parade, was taking pictures and video of the procession going by, so I was very confused when I looked to my right. “Are y’on holiday?” Nervously, I smiled and nodded my head, afraid to speak because of my non-Irish accent. The man nodded and walked over to another, as I watched I saw him repeat my response.
It was an uncomfortable feeling. I did not physically look different from those around me, you could not hear that my speech was different from those around me, and I was even doing the same thing as those around me. So how did he know? Better yet, why did he feel compelled to ask?
It wasn’t until that moment that the whistle-stop history lesson clicked.