Let’s make a contribution to our communities

In comedy, there is often truth and wisdom. In the ability to laugh at ourselves, we find nuggets about life.

I was watching Tommy Tiernan on TV the other night when in the midst of a piece on the lethargy of the middle-aged male, he described sitting at home watching the movie Everest with all the climbers almost dead on that deadly peak, when his wife said “aren’t they crazy to climb a mountain like that,” to which he replied “I’d love to be up there with them. I’d rather be half dead on the side of a mountain than half alive on the side of the couch.”

It was magic. And it summed up how we tend to live our lives according to the date on the calendar, the number of candles on our cake and the time on the clock. We believe the maxim ‘act your age’ too much. We accept that life is in sections and there comes a time, way too early, when we tend to accept that we can no longer make a poisitive contribution to the world around us. So we sit on the couch and wait for the Grim Reaper to text us our place in his queue.

At this time of year there are a lot of worthy but cliche-ed appeals for us all to be nice to one another, to look out for our neighbours, and all of that is noble and well-intentioned. But this time also offers us a chance to re-evaluate how we live and whether we are shouting stop too soon on being a positive influence on the world around us.

Too many of us are half alive on the side of the couch, content to be consumers of life rather than contributors to it. And it is ok to vegetate on the side of the couch, but it sure will feel a hell of a lot better if you do so, having made a new and revitalising contribution to the communities around you.

The announcement of the Creative Ireland programme last week goes some way towards addressing this. Recent surveys have shown that by encouraging creativity in the home and the community and then exposing children to this will make them have a deeper appreciation of life, will give them increased empathy and put them in a position where they make a contribution to society.

We all live in communities, and communites have needs that if met, make them better communities. We are all in a position to enable the creative potential of every child, to develop the imagination of us all, to help us see things where nothing exists, to manufacture culture, through words and songs and teaching and computer coding and beauty.

But to do this, we have to ensure that the arts and creative industries are not seen as the domain of the luvvies and middle classes who seem to fill this space to capacity. The beauty of last year’s Galway 2020 Speak Outs were that they were brought to places and communities that heretofore would not have considered themselves creative or artistic.

And it is in these communities, ie, your communities, that the opportunity to create a better Ireland exists.

So let’s not be half alive on the side of a couch anymore. Ask yourself how you can contribute to the next Irish revolution.

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