Thoughts Past Present and Future with Jeffers.
At the end of every year and through to the beginnings of the New Year we get lots of articles in our daily papers from various correspondences and columnists about the year gone out, and some brave souls have a go at predicting what might lie ahead for all of us. It makes interesting reading, both the old, and the possible future, for the old news jogs our memories, (how quickly we forget), and the future intrigues us. All pick their favourite subject and give their view! Various topics are written about, our health care, our transport, our Celtic Tiger, our development as a nation, past, present, and future, and our recent budget got checked out.
Not all articles were about us, world events were also covered, and the usual suspects got a mention, George W Bush probably headed the list. Georgie boy got a slap on the wrists from the American voter there a while back and he is now driving from the back seat. Not so much blather about imposing democracy a la U. S. of A, on other peoples, but a grudging acceptance that there just might be another kind of culture in the Middle East that has been there since time began, and certainly longer than the arrival of Columbus on the shores of America where the first chore was to move the Native American Indian off the good lands, and reduce them to the status of second class citizens. The peoples of the Middle East have no plans to become second class citizens so get out a dictionary George and look up the words -- humility, and negotiate; it beats the hell out those words arrogance and ignorance.
Two articles worth a mention were not necessary about the future or past, but about the here and now. One was written by Fr Vincent Twomey, Professor of moral theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth speaking about the loss of Christian memory due to the dramatic changes in the social and economic life of Ireland, or put in plain language, the loss of Christian memory. He had taken part in a debate in Trinity Collage and was shocked to realise that some of the students taking part were ignorant of the cultural force that Christianity has played in shaping our world from the Middle Ages down to present times.
Much that we take for granted is due to Christian inspiration. Education for example originated in the monastic and cathedral schools of the Middle Ages. Hospitals are a spin off from the Crusades, and health care as a profession was introduced by the religious orders The distinction between the secular and the sacred, emperor and pope, gave us democracy, for one played off against the other. Much of Europe’s richest cultural products are either due to Christian inspiration or in revolt against it, he tells us. So there you have it. The cultural force of Christianity, the good and the bad, down through the ages to the present day has shaped the world that believers and unbelievers now live in.
The second article was written by Marc Coleman, Comment, Irish Times, Dec 22nd. He was writing about ‘a culture of dependency’ that was developing in this country and the two articles are intertwined, for Christianity also gets a mention. Mark was making the point that the welfare system has become a ‘dependency trap instead of a backup system’ that is necessary when things go wrong for the ordinary family or families. A classic example that is very much making news at the moment is ‘care for the aged’ and who pays? In spite of our wealth and increased living standards our ‘consumerist culture’ that prevails today, expects the welfare system to nursemaid us from erection to resurrection. He goes on to tells that Christianity has always had a profound influence on those in power though it in itself was never a doctrine of power but of love, and love and power are opposites. He sums it all up in a sentence, ‘a better world in live in, doesn’t make us a better people’!
Another topic that got a good deal of coverage was ‘global warming’. Scientists have been warning about it for quite some time now, various governments ignoring it. In recent past there has been quite a bit of talk about wind farms, harnessing sea waves, growing crops for converting into bio fuels, but all suggestions up until now falling on deaf ears, or being hotly contested. Great idea, but not on my hillside is the usual objection to wind farms. Too costly is applied to any of the other ideas. The rip off tax we pay on a gallon of petrol, likewise car tax, could be used as a subsidy to get some of these new bio fuels off the ground.
But our government have a much better way of dealing with the problem: they plan to buy our way out of climate change commitments by buying carbon credits. I’ve heard of a few daft plans in my time but this one beats Banagher as the saying goes. It’s called passing the buck; they’re much too busy planning election strategy right now, climate change is for the other fella to worry about. Do you mind the time we were all treated to a picture of Bertie standing in a Dublin street with water up to the top of his wellies doing the “I’m with ya lads” bit? He and the rest of the chancers that passes for government should resurrect that picture, have it framed, and hung at the end of their beds so that every morning when they wake up it will remind them that climate change is here, and cannot be foisted off onto someone else’s desk. It’s a world problem I know, but we are part of the world, and we should be making an honest effort to do our bit, and not trying to buy our way out of a serious situation. Future generations won’t thank us for pulling ‘ an Irish solution to an Irish problem’ stunt. Yrs Jeffers.