We are like lightning.

Belfast, Ireland

Belfast was a great adventure. When I checked into the hotel I was staying at I asked the woman working the front desk if there was a window or a view point from one of the upper floors that I could have access to shoot some photos from. She immediately asked if I would access to the roof. Of course I jumped at the chance and she called a handyman to walk me up. It was incredible. I got to go on the roof, about twelve stories up and take as many photos of Belfast as my heart desired. It was such a beautiful morning with the sun shining through the clouds, the light was great and the view was unreal. I really got a unique experience thanks to the kind woman working at the front desk.

I took this photo of a mural I saw from the roof first, because the color caught my eye and second, because of the imagery it contained. I don’t pretend to completely understand the dynamic political history of Northern Ireland, I mean, I have seen some films and heard what Bono has to say now and again but I am pretty positive that in no way is a solid foundation for me to build some sort of opinion about which side of the republican and loyalist struggle I support. So I won’t even try. I took this photo, not because I support the message it contains, but because I am struck by the freshness of the paint, that it has been cared for and maintained. When I first looked at the mural I was struck by what I deemed terrorist imagery, the black hood, the AK-47, the clenched fist. I wondered if that was a mural encouraging terrorism, yet the confusing thing is, those are also the same images of revolution too. Peculiar those words, terrorism and revolution, and how those definitions change when they are used and applied by those in power and those who aren’t, that revolution is always called terrorism when it is a threat to power and that terrorists always think of their actions as a revolution when they aren’t in power. So I wondered, who painted the mural and who maintains it? A terrorist? A revolutionary? Has it been cared for because people do not want to forget a part of their history? Or because these sentiments are still alive and burning in the hearts of some portion of the Belfast citizenry? Maybe both?

I think about how a mural like this relates to my own country, how the media in the United States continues to force this divide between conservative and liberal, red state and blue state, and how collectively we live with such different views of how our country should be run. Do we have a divide in our country as deep and as the one in Northern Ireland? We had civil war but is our country really united? Should we be renamed the Collected States of America? Our media sometimes makes me feel this way, makes me suspicious of some of my fellow Americans, makes me think of them as ignorant and backwards and I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing about me. That is why ultimately I voted for Barack Obama, because I feel like he has the strength and courage and vision to unite a country that has been slowly fracturing over the past eight years.  

On the train today from Belfast to Dublin I passed some graffiti spray painted on a fence that read: We are like lightning. And for some reason, that phrase just resonated with me, I felt the magnitude and solitude of that phrase and it stuck. We are like lightning. We are electric and luminous and yet, our lives are only a quick flash in the grand scheme of time. So that became the thought of the day, somehow pulling everything into perspective and making sense of everything I had been recently pondering. 

We are like lightning.


~ by colonycollapse on November 13, 2008.

4 Responses to “We are like lightning.”

  1. What’s that old saying? One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter? That essentially sums up Northern Ireland. Some see killing and bombing as the only way to secure their rights and freedoms as citizens. To others they’re murderers who should never have any voice. Northern Ireland politics isn’t that complicated unfortunately. One side wants a united Ireland, the other want to remain as part of the UK. There is little common ground. Our so called leaders can’t even agree to meet in an asembly and get on with the business of running this country together. Issues here are black and white to them, it’s pitiful. Unlike the USA I don’t think we have what you call ‘swing voters’. People here vote on a single issue and stick to it regardless. You want a united Ireland you vote Sinn Fein, you want a union with Britain you vote DUP. Or you can practically waste your vote on the middle ground parties, and while they would very likely do a better job of running the country they’re not hard line enough to change the majority ‘single issue’ voters minds. That Obama was able to attract so many ‘red’ voters and win by such a majority was a great thing. It’ll be a long time before something like that happens here.

    Cool photograph by the way, do you have your tilt shift effect as a preset in photoshop or do you manually apply it each time?

    And thanks for playing Belfast, you guys were fantastic even if the venue wasn’t great. Was it a bottle or a sock that some idiot threw at Ben? There seems to be confusion about this!

  2. we are like lightning… well put.

  3. Did Chris pass you on the pictures i took from the Dublin show? i got two good ones of you.

  4. Incredibly well put and thought provoking.

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