The news—everywhere—and suddenly I was back on Talbot Street, summer of 1974. We, my sister and I, were in Killester. Grandmother brought us to Dublin one or two times a week on the train. We were used to the city. We knew the beauty but we also knew of other things, other places; things to avoid.
This time, it was with a family friend. We accompanied her as she went about doing her errands for the day. The trip took us past both Barry’s store (no relation) and Guiney’s. It was late June and the clean-up was well underway—a month had passed—but even now I recall the horror in Maura’s voice as she told my sister and me what had happened.
We knew already, of course. Our grandparents sent bi-weekly bundles of papers back to Newfoundland so we knew the facts. It’s different, though, we you experience it first-hand. The horror, the fear, the anger and in the end, the grief—all become so intense; so immediate.
Who could have done this? It is so easy to resort to racial, ideological or religious labels to name the foe that lacks the courage and respect to stand before you. Even the slightest analysis, though, reveals the flaws in that reasoning. You just have to look at the victims. Bombs are indiscriminate. On Talbot Street the victims came from all walks of life. Not soldiers, just everyday people pursuing their hopes and needs.
So, too, this time: the victims are again innocents; not combatants. The aggressors, once again, invisible; hiding behind some unnamed cause that, in the end, can only be revealed as hatred for oneself and lack of concern for others.
What is it that drives people far beyond the loosely-defined borders that try and define humanity? How can some kill in the name of a cause they consider just? Most of all, how can people be so confused that randomly-chosen souls can be used as a proxy for ‘the enemy?’
Sometime during that awful, cold, dark summer the voices of the Just started coming together. The song was of love and forgiveness. It took years but, in the end, hatred was overcome and a people began to heal again. Justice, not revenge, became the goal.
Those voices are stirring already. May they be strong enough, once again, to claim the victory.