Everything up for grabs as eras overlap
Sure it’s no wonder we are the way we are these days. The Chinese have a saying ‘may you live in interesting times,” but they never thought there’d be times that would be just too bloody interesting. Not a day goes by without something intertesting happening — the likes of which would only ever happen in a blue moon.
It has been a hell of a year for interesting things to happen, swirling up a storm of such ferocity that we are left spinning, not knowing which way to face. This change has manifested itself in a variety of ways, but mainly in the world immediately around us. Those who have lost their jobs know only too well the cold chill of that spinning maelstrom, those who are in jobs live with the fear that their conditions are changing and that benefits and rights hard fought for over the years can be taken away with a click of the fingers and a mantra that “this is all for the good of your job.”
Those who represented us for so long in public office have changed too — the new faces are still new faces, fresh faces in the main, faces that we still find it hard to attach blame to, even when all around us is going mad. Even in our communities, the things we felt were permanent are proven to be anything but. The teachers who served our schools and played many other roles are calling it a day to take advantage of pension entitlements before the knife is taken to them. The gardai who patrolled our towns and villages and who have amassed hundreds and hundreds of years of experience in knowing who are the good guys and who are the bad guys are also deserting the force in great numbers to ensure their financial security in the long term.
Even the cultural things that kept us sane in the bad and good old days are without pemanence. The county senior teams, once spoken of with great reverence, have both exited their competitions with little more than a whimper. The highest ranking of our soccer teams had the kind of season that one could only witness in a nightmare, setting all kinds of records for concession and this week, teetering on the brink of extinction. We are settling now for the honourable defeat where once we looked for victory.
Many of the businesses we frequented, many of the pubs we drank in, of the hotels we ate in, of the cafes we sheltered from the roar of the Tiger in, have also gone —victims of the downturn. Even our currencies are on the verge of changing again. The landscapes we have known, economically, politically, culturally, have all been flattened by explosions in the distant foothills and this is what we are left with. We are where we bloody are.
There has always been change, but it is the pace of this change that has quickened. Never before has there been so much change in so short a time. And this change has an effect on us all. It causes a sort of trauma that is being absorbed by our fragile beings and which no doubt is taking its toll on our collective psyche.
So what is this? Is it a sort of end of days? I think not. There has always been change, when one era ends and when another starts up. Normally, there is a gap between eras, a sort of easing out and smoothing in — in this case, the eras are overlapping and a whole new country is emanating from the ruins. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, and many of us succumb to that pressure. But we should not. This is merely change — just a faster change from which will grow a new country, a new Ireland. We have a strange Government you cannot find in your heart to hate because they are just doing what they can do...
And now we are on the verge of a new year, a year closer to the date when Ireland will start growing again, when change will slow down again and we can settle. Galway has ahead a very exciting time that we must exploit. Next Wednesday the days get longer, the spring is but weeks away...stretch out your arms and embrace it.