May 20, 2015 by Darius
This week in Ireland, two events, one personal, one political, are demonstrating just how much a country can change in a generation.
Yesterday, Britain’s Prince Charles met and shook hands with Gerry Adams, a leader of the former militant Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein. It was the first-ever meeting between a member of the British royal family and a member of Sinn Fein since Sinn Fein was founded in 1921. The fact that these two men are willing to be in the same room as the other is remarkable: Sinn Fein was at war with the British government in Northern Ireland until 1998, even assassinating Charles’s great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, in 1979. In 1998, though, the two sides genuinely did stop fighting, and Northern Ireland has remained largely quiet since.
On Friday, Irish voters will decide whether to approve the legalization of gay marriage. Yes, you read that right. Ultra-Catholic Ireland is considering approving gay marriage. Even if the measure doesn’t pass, a generation ago, the very idea of gay marriage on the ballot would have been unthinkable.
This week’s events prove that peace, reconciliation, and social change are indeed possible within a generation should the will exist. Ireland is not an idyll, but it is an example to other spots around the world that continue to long for peace, reconciliation, and social change.