Robert McCartney died on January 31, 2005 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At the time, he was a father of two children and engaged to be married. He was found by authorities lying in a street, his throat cut, missing one eye and with a deep knife wound stretching from his chest to his stomach.
His murder was by many accounts the culmination of bad blood between members of his family and individuals associated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). He was reportedly killed in a bar room brawl that was witnessed by many, but few have ever come forward to tell the true story of what happened, and to this day no one has been convicted of the crime.
Whenever I hear the name Irish Republic Army, it takes me back to my youth when I studied martial arts at Kim’s Karate in Baltimore, while completing my studies at Towson University. There was an older gentleman who studied there and we became friends. Like me, his ancestors were from Ireland.
When he found out my last name was Murphy, he was intrigued and would press me about my heritage and connection to Ireland. In time he grew to trust me, and confided in me that he had connections to the IRA. He explained that they had a need for sympathizers stateside and that a person like me could be very useful to the organization.
I politely declined his invitation, knowing full well that the IRA was a terrorist organization. Besides, I didn’t have a dog in that fight. But it got me to thinking why individuals join such organizations, especially nowadays when so many naive young Muslims choose to fight for a cause that is clearly beyond reason.
If you study the history of Man, it is poignant that in almost every generation from the beginning of civilization, people have seen it necessary to take up arms against one another. War and conflict is the norm, rather than the exception. Our country is a little over two hundred years old and we have been at war with some other group or country, or even with our own brothers, for just about all of that time.
I think the reason for this is fairly rudimentary. There are basically two types of people in the world, those who like to impose their will on others, and those who are willing to be imposed upon. Ninety eight percent of us don’t mind being imposed upon, but the other two percent like to do the imposing. It is the two percent that wrestle control over the rest of us and cause so much mayhem and destruction.
The little pot-bellied leader of North Korea and his small fascist entourage hold twenty four million fellow citizens hostage, forced into a life of poverty and repression. Twenty four million North Koreans simply want a better life for themselves and their children, but it is the actions of just a few that keep them down.
A similar parallel was evident until just recently in the Arab world, where a large citizenry was held hostage by a small group of despotic rulers. The masses there that were used to being imposed upon decided they had had enough and are now the ones trying to do the imposing.
The average citizen of the Arab world has been put upon for centuries. Just the physical terrain and climate of the region would be enough to breed discontent in most people, not to mention the daily stress caused by a regimented religion and society. This is what breeds discontent, and encourages young Muslims to take up arms. I can assure you that if the average Arab citizen had the wealth and freedom that we enjoy, he would have little quarrel with the West.
I am glad I didn’t join the Irish Republican Army. Although I don’t approve of their tactics, I do sympathize with a group that is willing to take up arms to fight for respect from those that would repress them.
There is always going to be the two percent that try to impose their will on the other ninety eight percent. Freedom is when the ninety eight percent prevails. I wish that none of us would ever end up like Robert McCartney, but as long as there are the two percent out there, the rest of us will always have to fight for our freedom.