What Have We Learned?

by johnandterri


As our long journey through Scotland and Ireland is about to end, I was thinking to myself, “What Have We Learned” from our experience? Since we took two long trips in Scotland and Ireland with the “Learning Tour” agency, Road Scholar it is a fair question to ask ourselves.

During our 4 weeks of touring with Road Scholar, we have had outstanding, professional teaching experiences, in fact, many of the guides that we had were teachers at university or other institutes. We had so many wonderful guides too, that were expert in “peeling the onion” on the very layered and complex history and culture of Scotland and Ireland. Our eyes were opened and we had a number of “myths” dispelled as well.

One lesson, I was thinking about lately, was how both countries were shaped so much by those who wielded the power and how religion played such a powerful role for both good and bad. I guess this is not a shocker for any of you but it was such a strong theme in the history of this region, right up to the present day that it just is so real and present.

Terri and I both experienced great empathy for those that were “conquered” and lost their land and heritage. It makes you sad at times to see how they were so dramatically impacted and changed by those that “conquered” them.

Our Ireland guide, Alan, is a delightful young man (same age as our son, Matt). When we traveled through Northern Ireland on our way down to Dublin he gave us the story of “The Troubles” (the war that raged in Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics between 1969 and 1998). Before he began his talk, he provided us his personal position he had reached in his young life, regarding “identity” to religion, country, language and blood. He felt that he had reached a point where he was able to not tie his identity to a particular religion (he was raised Catholic), region or country, or even sports team he rooted for. He told us he considered himself a “citizen of the world”. That was his identity.

I thought about this and was wondering if I could feel and think the same way. Not sure I have come as far as this young man has in his short life. I passed on to him yesterday and article I read that I found really spoke to this important point he was making. It was written by my favorite writer, Fr Ron Rolheiser.

The article is titled “The Struggle To Not Make Our God Our Own Tribal Deity“. I encourage you to take the time to read it. The article provides some very profound insights for us all to ponder and some takeaways on what we can do about this problem we are all prone to have.

I will end this blog with a quote from the last lines of the article:

“God is everyone’s God equally, not especially ours, and God is too great to be reduced to serving the interests of family, ethnicity, church, and patriotism.”