Tag Archives: budget

Recession Ireland: A Whole New World?

Some of you will delight in me writing this. Others will be too indignant or alarmed to read on… Some will presume I’m having it off with Jim Corr and switch off. And then there are others, who will breathe a sigh of relief that, finally, somebody normal is speaking out about their thoughts and fears regarding what’s going on in the world. Someone without a background in economics or activism, politics or finance; somebody regular who’d never even heard of a default or a foreclosure or an NWO up until a year ago.

We can pretend like nothing’s changed. We have offices and kitchens and children to attend to. Christmas is fast approaching. And The X Factor final is on this weekend. But we cannot ignore the growing dole queues, the increasing break-ins, the persistence of the Occupy movement, and the unfair Budget cuts. Our children are growing up in an unprecedented era. Forget about the Púca – it’s the IMF that’s got everyone really scared.

Dole Queue in Cork

There is talk in certain circles that the economy is on the brink of total collapse (no surprise there). Some people are forecasting (and gleefully anticipating) the breakdown of all of society’s major institutions, which are finally losing their grip on the power they’ve wielded over the obedient public for far too long. Even prime time television is warning that we might have to revert to the punt. And if that happens, what little money we have left will be almost worthless.

If this actually occurs, so much will have to change. We won’t be able to afford oil or petrol, thus limiting trade and transport. We won’t have the option of buying new clothes or technology. We’ll have to return to self-sufficiency, which would be no bad thing.

These difficult circumstances would force us to come together as communities. We’d have to rely on agriculture and fishing. The long-suffering Irish farmers would be granted a new-found respect. Our lawyers and accountants and PR executives would have to be taught how to sow seeds and cut trees. Our scientists would be able to dedicate their time and genius to work on tapping into alternative sources of energy.

Fishing in Connemara

When I hear these outlandish but strangely plausible predictions, I try to imagine such a future. I guess we’d have to ration our food and our firewood. We’d only be able to afford enough petrol for one vehicle per village. We’d work in the daylight, and sleep beside one another in large fire-warmed living rooms. We’d have to darn our socks and put patches on worn sweater elbows. We’d drink fresh milk and eat lots of stew. We’d go back to natural remedies and energetic healing. We’d have time to sit with each other, to knit and play games and tell stories.

Is such a world even conceivable? And what about technology? Would our phones suddenly stop working? Would electricity fail? Without the companies that connect us, would the internet perish?

Oh, I’m all for getting rid of money-hungry, ethically challenged governments, multinationals and pharmaceuticals. And I look forward to the day when the food we eat isn’t laced with hormones, pesticides and preservatives. I would gladly embrace a time when we are content to live off the land. When we inhabit a world that refuses to be dominated by mass-produced fear. When we take the time, effort and courage to inform ourselves and think outside the government-constructed box. When we recognise real health and call a halt to the pumping of too-trusting populations with vaccines and medication and other hidden chemicals. I long for a land of free thinkers, where open minds and creativity are a valued commodity.

Despite my idealistic hopes, I also have doubts. I worry that, if things really do go belly up, not everyone will react favourably. Many will be shocked and scared, angry and incredulous. Parents will fight for their food and children will steal. The streets will see violence and riots and looting. Some will go hungry. Others will go mad.

Dublin City © Gearoid Muldowney

And I can’t help hypothetically grieving all the materialistic luxuries I currently enjoy. How would I cope without my car and my holidays abroad? What would I do without the ability to discover new music at the click of a mouse? How would I feel about the loss of lipstick and mascara? Could I welcome a world without the internet and blogging? And if money disappears and I can no longer pay rent, will I have to move home? Or would my landlord accept payment in poems and potatoes?

Then again, this may never happen and you’ll laugh when you remember the crazy blogger who once ranted about the possible links between sudden poverty and freedom. But if the alternative news reports do prove to be correct, at least I’ll have given you a heads up. To encourage you to spend some of the money that’s lying in fear in your bank account. To get yourself some practical essentials. To give you time to install a stove and stock up on rice and tins of tuna. To buy good winter boots and some quality clothes that’ll last longer than your usual purchases from Penneys. Better silly and safe than stubborn and sorry.

Whether or not this apocalypse-like scenario manifests, we cannot ignore the fact that change is in the air. Perhaps this upset and turmoil is a necessary step in our evolution. Masses of people are awakening and there is a definite shift in consciousness. This could be the New Earth that Eckhart Tolle wrote about. And a new way of thinking and living and being will emerge from the redundant ashes of the old world, like a phoenix, ready to take flight…

Deepak Chopra

Images: http://www.allthingswhisky.com/?p=499; http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92133; http://www.ballynahinch-castle.com/fishing-connemara; http://www.flickr.com/photos/gearoid/page10/; http://pinterest.com/pin/418493398/

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From the Depths of December

I wander downtown to buy Christmas cards, in the hope that it will assuage my guilt at not yet having begun shopping for presents. There is no escaping the swift approach of Yuletide on this brisk December day.

Fairy lights wind their way up tree trunks, like magic ivy. A middle-aged couple carries plastic bags and an air of exasperation. A Norway Spruce leans up against a wall, naked but on the brink of fulfilling its life purpose.

I pop in my iPod buds and drown out the world with the sounds of Video Games and VillagersA teenager rushes out of a pound shop, her face full of freckles and anticipation. I enter. A mother slaps her children’s hands away from sweets and toys. A man in dirty work clothes holds a basket brimming with tinsel.

I buy two packets of sparkly Santa cards and continue down the main street. A young boy bolts into the library. I follow. As I enquire after a Heather O’Neill novel, which is currently MIA, an elderly woman breezes up to the desk.

“It’s getting cold out there, Mrs O’Brien,” the male librarian tries.

“We’re all ageing,” the woman retorts.

He changes the subject.

“What do you think of the Budget?”

The woman doesn’t respond.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BUDGET?” the librarian bellows. Children look up in disbelief.

“I heard you the first time,” the old lady announces. “I just don’t bother with all that shite!”

I leave without a book, but not without a story.

I take a detour home along the Liffey. The river is full and fast. The moon clings to the cobwebs of the morning sky. Drizzle settles on nettles. A reluctant dog is pulled toward the nonchalant swans. Ducks fly close to the water, their necks straining forwards.

Reeds clump together and float to the surface, like dead bodies. A leafless tree bends over the water, like a nude diver frozen in time. A woman jogs by, barely lifting her legs. A man in a track suit practises Tai Chi in the wet grass. I wonder if he’s crazy and try not to stare.

As I huddle on a park bench, ignoring the cold and blowing on a Biro, I decide that I am a writer and that there is nothing I’d rather be.

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?” Vita Sackville-West

And for all you budding writers out there, click here.

Images: http://gallery.hd.org/_c/art/_more2004/_more12/baubles-glass-and-wire-shiny-tinsel-blue-and-silver-star-for-top-of-tree-decorations-ornaments-JR.jpg.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18871955;

http://laetificus.tumblr.com/page/8; http://weheartit.com/entry/9454974