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Reflections

Mary O Hara's comment is interesting... and insightful... and complicated! I live on the street where the riots have been taking place, and was watching it unfold the other night from my kitchen window with sadness and curiosity. It was clear that some people wanted to riot, and that for some, there was little other agenda than that.Some of the people rioting are from the area, some have traveled in for to make a statement.

North and West Belfast are very 'deprived'. However, it's not for lack of employment schemes, social change programmes, opportunities for reconciliatory programmes etc. It seems that the mixture between a certain european kind of urban poverty and the awful effects of over thirty years of traumatic violence has given rise to a deep feeling of local-community pride and inadequacy, coupled with a deep feeling of disenfranchisement.

O Hara speaks of it being soul destroying - and she is right - because there is a rare 'strategy' that hasn't been tried here. We have, as Lederach says, some kind of peaceful bigotry - a peace which is mostly about the absence of conflict for a good part of the year, but which hasn't gone deeper to the issues of trauma, poverty, national identity, compromise, shared-space and belonging. I don't see that purely economic strategies will solve this - they will only distract us. What we are looking for is something that is both practical, empowering, and also nurturing of something deep in the human person for an attitude of neighbourliness. What we have can seem soul destroying, and what we need is something that is soul-flourishing - on a practical and spiritual level.

And, in the midst of the riots, there are small pockets of unusual relationships, which, I hope, are the living manifestation of the kind of future we hope to embody.

Lederach's influence among the peace&reconciliation sector is enormous, and I loved the show...Thanks to all involved... I listened to it on Tuesday morning, in the wake of the localised riots on Monday night. While SOF is always enriching, it felt particularly appropriate this week.