Dalai Lama inspires Belfast with peace wall inscription by Kayla Wright

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The Peace Walls in Northern Ireland were built with the intention to separate the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. With a walking tour and a brief look at both sides, it is clear that the  phenomenon hardly maintains a balanced structure for peace. Houses are built with shields protecting their windows from rocks thrown from the other side in an attempt to harm or fear the opposing community. There are burn marks on the Peace Wall from bombs once thrown over, and murals of deceased community members painted on the buildings. In an effort to inspire peace between the two groups, visitors from all over the world have written their words of wisdom on these walls. One of the most significant quotes was an inscription by the Dalai Lama which reads, “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.”

After careful thought I decided to make my mark by adding a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. The famous quote is: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Though my imprint is small and unlikely to influence much, this experience with the Black Cab tours in Belfast opened my eyes to the extreme consequences of holding grudges and judgments against others, and was a real-life example of where these acts of hatred and violence can eventually lead. The ongoing separation and negative feelings are imbedded into the Catholics’ and Protestants’ every day lives and will continue to live on as they have no desire to make peace with each other and move forward from the past, creating a detrimental society for all, especially the nation’s youth.

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