Back when I was a GCSE student, in 1989-90, I met the most remarkable man. Samuel Bowden. I was compiling research for my coursework on the Belfast Blitz. I have no idea how I got to meet Sam. My mother and father will have to fill you in on all the details.
When we arrived, I had my pen and paper ready. He started talking and then, suddenly, he began to recite poetry. Verses from Tyrone. He commented, ‘The only way to keep the mind lucid is to keep it active.’ I was a fifteen year old boy and I was so impressed. He was amazing. He then started talking about the Belfast Blitz and the devastation wrought by the bombers. Sam was in the emergency services in Belfast and witnessed everything. To this day, I still remember him talking about the firefighters who climbed up the ladders and tried to deal with the flames that enveloped the city. They had an impossible task.
On this 75th Anniversary of the Belfast Blitz, I would like to remember Sam. Every time I visit Belfast, I remember what he shared with me. Every time I visit HMV, I vividly picture how it was. Thanks to Sam’s testimony.
Sam. You will always be one of my heroes.
75th Anniversary of the Blitz.
The Enlightenment, the Rights of Man, the US Constitutional Convention, coffee parties in the various salons, calls for tolerance and the birth of rational man. You and I?
The Enlightenment may or may not have existed, as my old teacher, Mick Lemon, used to say. Rational man should act, ‘in accordance with reason or logic.’ In my whole life, I have not experienced a period where humankind has acted within the realms of what might be deemed to be rational, according to how the original thinkers defined it. This really worries me. Voltaire wrote the most amazing satirical expose on the inexplicable and attacked the perceived justifications for why life was explained in the way that it was. That was more than two hundred years ago. Put simply, it is essential not to accept things as they are. We can all make a difference, if we choose to act and live differently.
What of the Enlightenment? It may or may not have existed. Are we more enlightened now? I am really not sure. Will life progress to a point where we all act together to ensure our mutual survival, based on the original conception of what it originally meant to be ‘rational?’ That point has yet to be determined. The point is this. We all have the capacity to collaborate and determine our future together, if we bother to try. That would equate to true Enlightenment.
Rational man would exist and I would be less worried.