Celebrations, by their very nature, are designed to fill us with many happy emotions.
A time to celebrate love and compassion, to forget bitterness and for one night perhaps, for one day maybe, for one week ideally, to come together and be content in each other’s company.
That is how celebrations should work. This is not, however, the way it works in Northern Ireland. We’ve just come through two days of inevitable violence that certainly have not filled me with any emotion other than disappointment.
Call me controversial, but there I was last night, standing around a 20 foot high bonfire, when I took a moment to look from side to side. On my left, there were stumbling teenagers, no older than 17 or 18, with bottles of some weird foul tasting liquid in their hands. On my right, there were grown men and women, no younger than around 39 I’d say to be exact, with cans of some weird foul tasting liquid in their hands. Ahead, there were younger children, some as young as 6 or 7, running around with no parents in sight. Certainly a lot of other adults in sight, not all of whom can be trusted at 00.30 hours I’m sure, but still, it’s a celebration, isn’t it?
No, it’s not. It’s gone so far from any kind of celebration, but I suppose our culture has done this with everything, from Christmas to birthdays to everyday life.
The 11th and 12th of July, in Northern Ireland, is traditionally the night and day we celebrate a victory for faith, for Christianity, when William of Orange won a great battle in 1690, and we were all to live happily ever after.
I wonder what he would think now, to know that we are still fighting about it today. The difference being, of course, that people are no longer fighting over faith. God is nowhere to be found among any of the parades or the empty Carlsberg cans that litter the city by the next morning.
Maybe, at some point, you could all remember exactly what it is you’re supposed to be celebrating, that would be a start.
Until then, let me fume.