Are we fac­ing po­ten­tially fa­tal po­lit­i­cal hur­ri­canes?

Irish Independent - Farming - - RURAL LIFE -

HAR­VEY, Irma, Jose and Ka­tia are the un­for­get­table names given to the re­cent storms that wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and on the south­ern coasts of the US.

We had our own ver­sion here in Done­gal and with ev­ery month that passes, more and more ex­treme weather events seem to strike.

The winds of chaos are also howl­ing through our eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial re­al­i­ties. One won­ders how long our ed­i­fices will last un­til the first sheets of gal­vanise are ripped off and fly around with lethal capri­cious­ness.

I watch and lis­ten to Don­ald Trump in com­plete dis­be­lief that this crea­ture was elected to the most pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal of­fice in the world. And there is Kim Jong-un taunt­ing us all into de­struc­tion. The aw­ful re­al­ity is that the coun­tries on both sides of this stand­off are in se­ri­ous de­cline and both have turned to the edge of rea­son to keep their myths about them­selves alive.

To the south, the Mediter­ranean is awash with refugees flee­ing a burn­ing and po­lit­i­cally dys­func­tional African con­ti­nent.

In Europe, we have Brexit. The longer it goes on, the more de­press­ing the prospect of Bri­tain leav­ing the EU gets. It is yet an­other storm that’s rip­ping away at struc­tures and re­al­i­ties that we had started to take for granted.

Par­ti­tion of the is­land had al­most ceased to be an is­sue — na­tion­al­ism and union­ism were be­com­ing cos­metic no­tions that had lit­tle more mean­ing than one’s cho­sen English football team. We had be­gun to take it for granted.

All is changed. The EU was the glue that held the Good Fri­day Agree­ment to­gether, but now we find one of the guar­an­tors of the agree­ment has re­dis­cov­ered a na­tion­al­ism of its own. And it has handed to those who never stopped car­ry­ing the border in their hearts and minds an op­por­tu­nity they thought would never come again. They now fer­vently be­lieve they will see their beloved line of de­mar­ca­tion re­turn harder and higher than ever with a power of dis­tinc­tion even greater than it en­joyed dur­ing the cold reign of Brooke­bor­ough.

Tak­ing for granted — that is the great sin of our era. Over re­cent decades, Europe has en­joyed long pe­ri­ods of sus­tained peace. There were 55 years of rel­a­tive peace on the con­ti­nent be­tween the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the Franco Prus­sian War of 1870. A num­ber of vi­cious Balkan wars blighted the con­ti­nent be­tween 1871 and 1914, and then there en­sued the catas­tro­phe of the First World War, fol­lowed 20 years later by World War II.

Since 1945, for 72 years, aside from the Balkan con­flict of the early 1990s, Europe has avoided a ma­jor war and en­joyed long pe­ri­ods of peace and pros­per­ity. We had come to be­lieve this is how things should be, tak­ing for granted that life will con­tinue and will be ef­fort­lessly good for a great bulk of peo­ple.

At this stage, we have moved be­yond tak­ing for granted — we now feel en­ti­tled to the good life and this sense of en­ti­tle­ment is per­va­sive and cor­ro­sive.

We have lost the stom­ach for strug­gle as we wait for plates to ap­pear with our de­sires wob­bling on them like jelly on a Sun­day — ex­cept now we ex­pect to have jelly ev­ery day.

For 20 years, we have had rel­a­tive peace on these is­lands and it was look­ing like we were on the cusp of a golden age of neigh­bourly bliss, but June 23, 2016 changed all that.

It could be ar­gued that Bri­tain voted for Brexit be­cause many with most to lose took for granted that it would be al­right on the night and, with­out both­er­ing to vote, ex­pected the re­sult they de­sired to fall out of the bal­lot boxes. In this era of en­ti­tle­ment we ex­pect to wake up to­mor­row morn­ing and find that some­one some­where will have done some­thing to fix the bits of re­al­ity that don’t match our ex­pec­ta­tions.

There is ev­ery in­di­ca­tion we are sleep­walk­ing into a nu­clear cat­a­clysm, into cli­mate chaos and, on these is­lands, into a frac­tur­ing of re­la­tion­ships that could be deep and nasty. In this repub­lic of ours, we have sleep­walked all the way into a hous­ing and home­less­ness cri­sis.

We need to be­gin to ask our­selves what are we will­ing to strug­gle for, what are we will­ing to pay for with ef­fort, sweat, money, time and re­sources?

If there is noth­ing be­yond our own four bones and our fam­ily’s bones for which we are will­ing to strive and sweat, then we are surely cor­roded by en­ti­tle­ment and will be swept away, if not by Har­vey, Irma, Jose or Ka­tia, then by the tide of his­tory.

Irma has caused wide­spread dev­as­ta­tion

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