But once in a while you still get a shock. A six year old with a gun in school is bad. More troubles in the middle east is extremely bad. But in the end, you've come to expect things like that. But the thing that shocked me was the first days of school in Belfast.
For those of you who haven't been listening really well in Geography and History classes, Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. It is the top one third of the island of Ireland, a very catholic country. As the British are protestant, Northern Ireland is a mixture of both, which has been leading to troubles for centuries, violent troubles for decades now. But even then, I still had the impression that we were in a civilized world. Victims were mostly policemen, soldiers, activists and terrorists searching each other in a battle for freedom. There are always mistakes that led to innocent bystanders being wounded or even killed, but those were quite often just mistakes.
This time they went beyond that. Catholic school kids had to be protected by a whole squadron of police to get to school. Let me repeat this, as to stress the absurdity of the situation: SCHOOL CHILDREN NEEDED POLICE PROTECTION TO GET TO SCHOOL.
They didn't have to cross a battle field, they weren't passing a secret service office, they weren't old enough to be secret activisit disguised as school kids. They were merely primary school children, some of them as young as four years old, who had to go to school. Their crime was that they were catholic walking to school through a protestant street. If you had seen the coverage on tv, your disgust would have been as big. Whole crowds of people were trying to stop these kids from going to school. Parents were trying to protect their children from the things thrown at them. If it hadn't been for a huge police force keeping the two groups apart, it would have been a battle.
The second or third day even a bomb was thrown, wounding four police and a mother. How low can you go? Throwing bombs at innocent children (children are innocent as per definition, but I still felt the need to add the adjective) because they have a different religion, how absurd is that? Apparently the defence of the behaviour was based on several facts, among them the fact that protestants can't march through catholic areas during their annual marches. As if the children have anything to do with that!
Let me point out one thing, before I get accused of choosing sides. I do not have a religion. I respect everyone who does, but can't stand people fighting over it. There is plenty wrong with catholics. They've a history of killing and raping indians and others in the America's, Vatican city is the richest country in the world. The pope is a wanker who tells poor Africans to go and multiply as if Aids and overcrowding doesn't exist. But in this case the bad guys have to be the protestants. Ireland always has been catholic, it wasn't until Britain conquered a part of it, that it partly became protestant. After a century there the protestants invented a tradition of marching. This was never a real tradition, whatever the hardcore will tell you now. They remember winning the battle so many years ago. How do they do that? By dressing up in their suits, with a lot of Orange and flags and walk through the area's where the catholics live. Has there ever been a more blatant case of provocation? I'm ashamed, as a Dutchmen, that they use the colour Orange to express their sense of superiority.
Obviously these marches have no other aim than to rub in that they are still in control in a part of the country, where they shouldn't be at all. Obviously these marches cause a lot of friction and some of them have been forbidden or rerouted. But to take all that out on little children, you've got to be completely heartless. To involve children in your own little pathetic little battle, disgusts me more than I could imagine. Get a bloody life, go and do something useful with your spare time. How is it possible that whole crowds of people were there to try to stop these children in the first place? Haven't they got jobs to go to? Haven't they got any decency in them?
Sometimes, when I see or read stories like this, I get extremely depressed about the future of the world. In a so called civilised country, one of the richest countries in the world, a country that has a reputation for decency, politeness and culture, it is still possible to throw a bomb at a four year old and get away with it. How can you be proud that you have beaten the Germands at football, how can you be proud of a booming economy, a strong pound sterling, if you can't even protect you own citizens well enough. UK, feel ashamed!