I love it when I catch the RTE programme, Reeling In The Years, usually by mistake. Last night, I saw the programme featuring 1982 in Ireland. Rugby was big news – we won the Triple Crown. The other big news was the economy – we were in a deep recession. There was plenty of political turmoil. Familiar? Very – except that in 1982 we had not just emerged from 15-20 years of incredible growth and wealth. And perhaps it is that fact that makes it so difficult for us to accept and come to terms with this recession this time.
Last Friday, the Late Late Show began with one of the most hysterical and depressing panel discussions I think I have ever heard. Four (as far as I can remember) journalists discussed just how dire this crisis is for Ireland. The hysterical ranged from Ger Colleran who suggested that the people of Ireland would like the errant property developers to be shot (figuratively speaking) to Kevin Myers foretelling that it won’t just be our children but our grandchildren and even great grandchildren who will pay for this NAMA bailout of the banks. The whole discussion was totally unbalanced and very dark.
Certainly I know that this country is ‘in the shit’ financially, as are many families and I am not for one minute trying to trivialise that fact. But, as I am constantly saying to my husband, it is only money. We seem to have lost all perspective.
Ireland has not changed. We have not gone from a country of winners to losers overnight. We are still a great little country, full of imaginative, creative, energetic, hard working people. We are a nation who can communicate and sell like few others. We are witty and deeply spiritual, if no longer overtly religious. All the talents we used to build the great wealth of the Celtic Tiger era are still intact.
But if we keep being brainwashed by this wholly exaggerated and dark view of ourselves we will be stuck in the economic doldrums for a whole lot longer than we need to be, or that is good for us individually.
We need to stop the blame game. We all understand how it was our obsession with property that was at the heart of our financial woes. But we need to let the law and economic forces deal with that. The rest of us need to focus on getting our mojo back!
Ireland is going through a painful and major detoxification. We are clearing greed and corruption from our business and financial world. We are also witnessing the clearance of cruelty and abuse of power by the Catholic Church. At the end of this process Ireland Inc., will be a morally and spiritually enhanced country – through and through.
In the meantime, we individually, must all remember who we are. We are still a wonderfully articulate, expansive, open minded, well educated people, as we always were. And now more than ever we need to remember that. Because without that confidence we cannot move forward.
Well said Barbara, but the excess, greed and corruption need to be eradicated from politics too. Irish politicians must be made answer to and be held accountable. We can not pat them on the back with a bualadh bos and send them back to Dáil Éireann with overwhelming vote numbers. That cycle needs to be broken.
The Irish are a resilient people. Talented, educated and creative. That will sustain them. The Irish know how to survive hard times unfortunately.
I love that program Reeling in the Years. Am glued to it when I am home.
Well said Barbara, but agree with Ann about the politicians and accountability.
There is a palpable air of depression around,as unlike the 80s a lot of people have huge debts and mortgages and feel stuck in a nightmare not of their own making.
I do agree that we need to find a positive way forward and all the negativity decreases our chances of recovery I heard on the radio the other day that there is a massive amount of people saving, so the air of gloom needs to be lifted to give these people confidence in what could be a great country if the power, financially and politically, ends up in the right hands.
Great post Barbara.
To be honest, I avoid anything like Primetime, indeed any current affair shows, as they harp on so much about the economy. Yes, we are up shit creek, as you say! But, the rest of the world is the same. We're not the only ones.
Okay, we have huge mortgages to pay (I include myself in that one) but there's no point in thinking about it too much. When I saw Kevin Myers on the Late Late on Friday, I watched all of two minutes and switched as quick as I could over to “Criminal Minds.” Escapism is what I need. Now I must go and watch Desperate Housewives.
P.S. Just set up a new writing blog at http://writeolive.wordpress.com/
Well said Barbara! It is horrible here and yes so many people are in deep, deep trouble. But we need to find a balance between facing up to the problems and being depressing. I often find it's the people who are in real problems with mortgages, loss of job who are more cheerful than those representing them. Good on you!
Thanks everyone for joining the discussion. I have to say that a few days spent in the peace and quiet and mud of the countryside is great for getting things back into perspective! That's probably the next post – and then I will lighten up again!
Hi Barbara – I love this post (not least because I enjoy your writing style) and I hear you! We need an injection of optimism. It's hard to find those nuggets, though, when we are confronted with pessimism at every turn. And, yes, I know that it's only money – and I have had that brought sharply into focus for me on more than one occasion – but we all need money. Money to pay the doctor, buy the school uniform, pay the car tax and throw some money at the bank so they don't take the house….
At the same time, I believe you are right – that we need to focus on what we have rather than what we lack.
I think everything you've said could apply to us here in America too. I want our economy to not depend on people spending money for things they can't afford and don't need. Enough is enough!