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Bathroom conversations set a precedent for world peace

On the day that SPEAK hosted the Gerry Adams event, I stood at the entrance of the Campolo School parking lot wearing a maroon Eastern t-shirt and giving parking instructions as people came in. But the whole time, I had to pee wicked bad.

As soon as I got into the building, I bolted to the bathroom.

Then the door swung open, and a man walked in. I snuggled in closer to the urinal. It was Gerry Adams!

I wanted to shake his hand, but I figured that it wasn’t the proper time. I washed and dried my hands very slowly, waiting for him to catch up.

“I’m Jeremiah,” I said, sticking out my hand for a shake.

“Gerry Adams,” he replied, gripping my hand.

Gerry and I then walked out of the bathroom, side by side. I was feeling pretty good. Together, we strolled down the hallway, passing by a bunch of people who (I imagined) would be quite impressed.

“Jeremiah,” he said, in his beautiful Irish brogue. “That’s a fine name.”

As I thanked him, I found myself entering a little back room where Dr. Black, Dr. Hall, Don Argue and a whole bunch of other important people were meeting. Gerry introduced me to a little Irish woman standing beside me. She turned out to be the Sinn Fein representative to the United States.

“Do you think I could have one of these t-shirts?” Gerry asked of Dr. Black, referring to my maroon Eastern shirt.

Dr. Black nodded.

“Why don’t you just take his?” someone asked.

Everyone laughed. I pretended to take off my shirt as a joke.

The group then began to exit the room and headed for the meeting room. “Jeremiah!” Gerry said. “Join the line.”

I stepped into the hallway, right behind Gerry, accidentally kicking the back of his shoe. I was walking beside Dr. Black, who wheezed out a jolly laugh and patted me on the back as he shuffled down the hallway.

After the meeting, I went up to Gerry and handed him my shirt. “Jeremiah, I’ve already been given one,” he responded.

“Darn!” I said.

Grabbing my shirt, he said, “This stinks a wee bit.”

Then he gave me a hug.

World leaders are very human. Gerry Adams has to pee too.

If world leaders whose countries were at odds with each other peed beside each other, laughed, smoked a few pipes together and smelled each other’s stinky shirts, the world would be a different sort of place. Peace will be more attainable if we recognize how human we all are.

When I hung out in the bathroom with Gerry Adams, he was no longer some distant figure on the news who might be a terrorist. He was a fellow human being–a man to pee with.

Peace and love between countries means peace and love between individuals.

Jeremiah is a first-year student.

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