"You have to understand that African terrorism is different from Middle East terrorism, and the terrorism the United States is fighting is different again from the terrorism in Northern Ireland," Steven told me. He is an attendant at a Protestant-based coffee shop for spiritual searchers in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It's a modest place amid small shops on a treelined street. It was early morning, and I'd been out enjoying the new Belfast—the one so unlike the besieged Belfast I had visited in the 1970s.
Steven acknowledged that things were better, but reminded me that there still were deep issues that needed to be resolved. The good news is that people are working steadily at resolving them, and in the meantime the army has left the streets, the intense police presence is reduced, and Belfast is full of life.
When I first visited the city in the 1970s, "the Troubles," as they are euphemistically called, were in full force. I had come there for a specific purpose: a friend who hosted a religiously oriented television program asked me to find out what the true story was in Northern Ireland and to come back and tell his viewers about it. He knew I would be doing research in the Republic of Ireland, the country next door, and thought I could just head north for a quick visit.