Somebody on the radio referred to us in Norneverland as being a nation of conflict junkies….Or maybe not a nation of Conflict Junkies ….possibly some of ….us are conflict junkies. i think it was John O’Dowd , the Sinn Fein minister who said it in reference to the Mi5 spooks ,but it has a wider resonance in relation to many in Norneverland .There’s a lot of truth in that .We seem to be at our happiest when we’ve something to carp about .I really do sometimes believe that if we hadn’t something to get all hyper-excited about we’d have to invent something damned quickly before we collectively dropped into a dark chasm of withdrawal.We’ve been so used to the dull hum of everyday conflict surrounding us here, that it is quite unlike anything that is experienced anywhere else in the UK or in Ireland.We’ve had years of it on our streets and then on our television screens and various media.
You’d think that by now we’d have talked al our problems to a conclusion and collectively agreed on how it would be best to fix all our quandaries and predicaments. it’s a sorry fact though, that we’ve barely scratched the surface of problem- solving .There’s a sort of annual Conflict Junkie circuit.It cyclical, so you could pick any point on the calendar and go from there and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Let’s say we start with the Summer Marching Season and go from there.We’d end up back with the same stories ,percolating into the press and radio programmes as sure as Easter and Christmas roll around every year.At the moment there’s a hue and cry about flying some flags somewhere in Belfast…i’ve even lost the gist of that one , so inured am I to these stories.Yes these people really , really have to fly these flags or they’d go insane instead .Then there is a row about the name of Derry/ Londonderry/Stroke City or whatever the hell they want to call it this year. It’s really very important ,you understand.People might starve if they don’t call it something .It’s a town for chrissakes ! ! Call it some damn thing you can all agree on and get on with it! you’ll not be swallowed up by the earth if you call it “Isingard” or “Thorin’s Gate”… At a time when people in Calais are trying their damnedest to break through the cordons and sneak onto lorries to get out of France and enter the UK …and possibly Ireland, here in Norneverland we’re worrying about the name of a town. People are drowning, attempting to escape Libya by the crowded boatload and they’re yapping about a republican march. You might ask , of course why anyone wants to march any more anyway.It’s a long, long time since those awful days of internment and why anyone would want to go back there in mind or deed is beyond me .Those were times that a younger generation cannot even imagine. If they’d lived through them , they might want to forget all about them.
So when the conversation in Norneverland turns to something less aggressive or aggravating than flags, bonfires, marching or bigotry , no one wants to talk about it.They’d rather remain silent and go into withdrawal. Without an argument to tussle over their very identity collapses. I discovered that when I write about anything other than conflict . There is no, or little ,response. There may be other uplifting stories out there , waiting to be told but no one wants to read them….Everyone wants to talk about the war….. conflict Junkies? There are more addicts about than you might imagine.