Actors like Liam Neeson were invented so that people could watch movies like Five Minutes of Heaven without being too overwhelmed, I think. I am so glad now that I was not born Irish. I was a moody, troubled kid growing up in the quiet and dullness of Colorado; I can't imagine how I would have made it through to adulthood had I grown up on that lovely but trouble-laden island. I'd have probably been just another of the bodies that wash up on the beaches for sure, too depressed from being too precocious and liking history books a bit too much.
I think, after watching this movie, and after all my lucid dreaming about conflict in Ireland, maybe I understand well enough how people find themselves becoming monsters. In the neat little scenario in my dreams I found it natural enough to be the instrument of the death of someone I love, and the motives in my character's head were not far off from what Neeson's character was describing. Nor does it take starting young. My dream self was a kid, about the same age as the kids at the start of the movie, but I think if given enough fear, enough random shootings, it would still be easy to turn any modern neighborhood into just as deadly a place as Belfast during the Troubles. Get a man into office just a bit more rabidly religious than the most recent President Bush, throw in a few new laws or some sort of crisis that would fundamentally challenge the values of the American people, and keep unemployment and real earnings as bad as they are now, and the American people could turn their towns into war zones too.
And so long as the global economy is as shaky as it is, I am thankful, unemployed as I am, that I am not a world leader trying to hold nations together under these conditions. I'll be content if I can find a nice quiet way to pay rent while writing. If the stuff I write ever is useful to anyone, I think I can be content with that, and leave saving the human race to someone else.