Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't sweat the small stuff

I'm sure my reaction to yesterday's "historic" events in Northern Ireland was similar to that of many others - one of relief rather than celebration. Far too much time has been spent and far too many lives blighted by the bigotry and barbarism that has passed as a noble defence of the Union and/or pursuit of Irish unity.

It is truly remarkable that two groups who hitherto wouldn't allow themselves to be photographed together, let alone exchange a civil word, are now preparing to jointly govern the process. Much credit must go to the two Governments for orchestrating events such that Sinn Fein were the ones with the veto on "progress" (rather than the traditional Unionists) but were too afraid to use it. Neat political manoeuvring, one has to concede.

Clearly there is no division too great that cannot be bridged by dialogue and engagement.
But if you were an Al Qaeda 'freedom' fighter or an Israeli military strategist, you might take a different lesson. Perhaps the Al Qaeda terrorist might think that democratically elected Governments are not to be trusted. When they say "we don't talk with terrorists" they actually mean "we don't like being seen talking with terrorists, but we realise that if you are going to defuse/resolve the problem, you just have to". On the other hand, if you've a strong military position and are the political ascendancy, you can be guaranteed that whatever "assurances" you seek, you'll still be sold out by the Government which swears it will protect you.

Maybe that is as it should be. Perhaps you have to show yourself to be the bigger person by deciding not to throw your might around. The only thing you can do with extremists is try to make them look as moderate as possible. In the rush to proclaim the brave new order, it doesn't really matter that the moderates get trampled. Unless of course they become radicalised and become themselves terrorists. In which case you fight an uphill battle for years, allow thousands of lives to be destroyed before conceding that you need to talk with the men of violence.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm pleased that the DUP and Sinn Fein could be brought to the alter in an arranged marriage. And I'm willing to concede that until 'normal politics' breaks out in the North, you have to prop up the 'democratic process' in the most undemocratic of ways. It is such a shame that it took 400/25 years (take your pick) to come to the obvious conclusion that you couldn't force anyone out of the Union/into a United Ireland (take your pick).

On a brighter note, the lessons of the last few days are most persuasive. By adopting a contrarian view point to the accepted wisdom, it is possible to resolve so many apparently intractable problems.....
  • Roy should realise that he doesn't yet have the Ireland job and that maybe Steve Staunton is doing his best.
  • The various Tribunal judges might accept that some of our politicians are/have been crooked but probably no more/less than any other profession (Lawyers, Gardai, Teachers, Doctors, Clergy, Bank Officials)
  • Our criminal justice system might accept that we will always have criminals and you don't have to be fair to them just so long as you are not unfair to those who don't commit crime.
  • Our politician's might realise that if you have to lie and cheat to get re-elected, is re-election something worth destroying your integrity for?
  • Our doctors might consider why they chose to practice medicine in the first place.
  • M50 motorists might accept that they contribute to the traffic chaos.
  • George Lee might realise that all economies are cyclical so if he waits around long enough he'll get his much hoped-for recession.
  • Marty Morrissey and Glenda Gilson might realise that plucking out your eyebrows and re-drawing them in with a pencil is a pretty pointless and counter-productive fashion tip.
  • Cosmopolitian readers might realise that the achievement of fantastic sex cannot be summarised into 10 glib steps.
  • We all might realise that everyone is entitled to respect and civil liberties regardless of age, sexual orientation, religious or ethnic background. And this includes Marty and Glenda!
  • We all might realise that every life is a precious and fleeting treasure and that we should celebrate every day.
  • Given the importance of our lives, perhaps we shouldn't spend too long blogging.



Blogger John of Dublin said...

Wise words indeed throughout your article.

My response above was deliberately economical....given the further wisdom in your final sentence!

2:30 p.m., March 28, 2007  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

I wondered if you were at one with Kevin Myers?

I also wondered if I'd missed the accusation that teachers are crooked? Of all the groups you mention, they are the one group that I have never before seen accused of being crooked.

You've made me think a lot about the issue of whether society should be fair to 'criminals'? On balance, for the sake of giving appropriate example to the rest of society, I think it best to be especially fair to criminals: be seen to do justice.

But the most interesting issue you raise is: how long to blog? I've never measured it but I think I blog for about 35 minutes per day, say 200 minutes a week, about 10,000 minutes a year. Is this too long? The opportunity cost is tremendous. But so are the benefits. I'm stuck on the cost-benefit analysis. Please help.

10:44 p.m., March 28, 2007  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

An old English teacher used to give us essays to write. She wouldn't give any word count guidance other than write until you are finished. I increasingly tested her resolve by submitting ever shorter essays. First a single page. Then a single paragraph and then a single sentence. she conceded that I had won a pyrrhic victory when my essay on "Is Shylock more sinned against than sinning?" comprised the single word 'No'!

12:44 a.m., March 29, 2007  

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