The Peace Wall | Holly Priest
It has been almost a week here in Northern Ireland with the #IreLink crew and it feels like I’ve been here for a month already. We have been on-the-go pretty much all the time. The past couple of days we have ventured out to downtown Belfast, Carrickfergus, and many other places. We have been to the Tollymore Forest, Whitehead Lighthouse, Carrickfergus Castle, Belfast murals, the Peace Wall, etc!
There is one place that I have been looking forward to seeing and learning about. I would like to unpack the Peace Wall, the history behind it, and why this is so relevant to the Word of God.
According to the CAIN (conflict archive in the internet) website, a peace line or peace wall are “physical barriers between the protestant/loyalist community and the catholic/nationalist community in certain areas in Northern Ireland. These concrete walls can be over 6 meters tall. Some have gates where they open during the day and close at night. Segregation was not only recognized in urban but also rural communities. The walls developed out of the riots of 1969 with the outbreak of Troubles. The walls were originally built to be temporary but over time they were replaced with longer, wider, and more sturdy structures. In a way, Northern Ireland is seen as polarized from the Republic of Ireland. They call things by different names whether Protestant or Catholic. The segregation really is formed from the deep-rooted political hatred. These has merely religious undertones. People of Northern Ireland actually consider themselves in the UK and they pay for things in pounds rather than Euros.
I originally thought America was too politically segregated but in my opinion, Ireland beats us. Even though we have a pretty broken system, the neighborhoods in Ireland are physically separated because Catholics and Protestants cannot come to agree on much of anything. The intense historical rage and tension has created a gaping crevasse between the people of this beautiful country. The thing is, there is nothing new under the sun. America is divided. Korea is divided. Christianity is divided. Ireland is divided. People are prone to divide themselves whether by race, religion, or social class.
From all the way back to the Garden of Eden, God created man and woman to help one another. One to fill in the gaps where the other lacks. We are designed to work in harmony. Sin and disobedience destroyed this beautiful harmony and now we must work to bring back it back. On earth as it is in heaven. Jesus didn’t come just to bring us to heaven, he came so we could bring heaven down to earth. As far as the peace wall goes, although it is only a start and quite possibly only a boundary line… it represents much more than that to me. The Peace Wall is a small picture of what real, genuine peace of which only comes from God exists. A peace that knows no label. A peace that does not discriminate.
Whatever way we experience division and segregation can be chipped away by simply listening and loving someone you never thought you could. If you feel like you might be racist, ask someone of color to a meal and get to know their story. I guarantee you will find more similarities than you think. If you feel high and mighty because you live on a golf course and drive a Mercedes, go pay for a homeless person’s haircut.. or two. You may experience a joy, the joy of giving in which no money can buy. If we could just break through the chains of comfort and actually love our neighbor, there would be no need for a Peace Wall.