Wednesday, 23rd May 2012
There is an old Chinese saying that goes 'may you live in interesting times.' At first glance you might think that this is a positive or at least benign saying but in fact its actually meant as a curse. The intention behind it is that in so called 'interesting times' people really experience upheavals of an unwelcome nature in their personal lives or in the body politic as a whole which can rain down a whole load of trouble on your head. It very much seems that we are living in interesting times these days. In fact you can so far as to say that we have always lived in interesting times here in Ireland. As soon as one crisis seems to head over the horizon another hoves into view. For a long time those troubles were experienced only directly by a very few on this island but now they are spread amongst us all and no one is immune. Uncertainty seems to be the only thing that most of us can look forward to. And here you have to make the distinction between change and uncertainty. Change is the constant by which all of us live our lives. Everything no matter how good or how bad is subject to change, its in the very nature of living. Uncertainty on the other hand is something completely different. By its very definition it means that you don't know where you will ever be. You might be able to extrapolate a certain number of scenarios based on the facts that you have to hand but even then you cannot even still be guaranteed a particular outcome. This is nowhere more evident then when it comes to the referendum that we are all being asked to vote on at the end of this month. The Fiscal Stability Treaty is being hotly debated at the moment but it seems that a sizable number of the electorate is at a loss as to which way they will vote. Trying to tease out the arguments both in favour and against is not proving easy as both sides in the debate seem to be using the same argument to put their case across. While in outline many people seem to know about what the Treaty entails very few people can honestly say what it really is about. Then when you have a high profile Government Minister coming out and saying that if the Government doesn't get the result that it wants that it will just run the referendum again it doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in people when it comes to the democratic process. Naturally enough there were fierce denials that this would happen but if it did it wouldn't be the first time in recent memory that a Government would do such a thing. While all of this was happening in Ireland it seemed as if the real action was taking place elsewhere in Europe. What the result will be of the second Greek election is a real hot topic at the moment and particularly if any new Government would pull that country out of the Euro. Understandably there was a lot of speculation about the whole issue but it really did seem that it was reaching ridiculous levels when some commentators started talking about whether this whole issue could spark a civil war in Greece. On top of that pantomime there was the usual concern that the markets were starting to get a bit jittery about the whole affair. It seems as if the all encompassing yet at the same time wholly anonymous 'markets' were rumbling away causing more strife. It seems that some people are of the opinion that the 'markets' must be appeased at all costs. But what exactly does this entail? What it appears to mean is that the 'markets' should continue to have their path to profit unencumbered by anything. It seems that in the bad times as well as the good the 'markets' must be allowed to make profit? It beggars belief that the so called 'markets' should be allowed free reign when they were such a large part of creating the huge problems that we find ourselves in. It would seem that if we are seriously thinking about ending all of the uncertainty we find ourselves in that we redefine our priorities and begin to put people and communities back at the centre of policy and any plans of action that we see our way out of these interesting times.
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Making Hay while the Sun ShinesNaturally, by the time that you read this editorial the weather will have changed majorly several times and we will have experienced lashing rain, snow, gale force winds and hailstones but the thing is that for about the first time this year we have experienced some really good weather that lasted for more than the usual 20 minutes to half an hour. As a nation we are obsessed by the weather and its entirely understandable. It is so variable and in such a constant flux that …
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