I was asked to speak on The John Murray Show on RTE 1, Ireland’s largest national station. He was very nice to talk to, and on the back of some very positive coverage that Down syndrome has received here recently, the entire piece was very warm and engaging.
Therein lies the problem for me. I had an opportunity to raise one or two critical points about services, about how important funding is now, and I got caught up in the cosiness of talking about how wonderful Jacob is. That in itself is not wrong, and I don’t for a second criticise the very nice people at The John Murray Show, but I am kicking myself now.
Here’s what I did say.
Here’s what I didn’t say.
Our backs are against the wall. The economy has never been in a more precarious state. Unemployment is ludicrously high and emigration has swiftly and devastatingly replaced immigration. The Church, for so long an incredibly powerful presence in the lives of ordinary Irish people, has been neutered and is not even on the radar of many young families. We are spiritually lost, economically bereft and lacking in leadership we can trust. We are in the shit.
The stuff is gone. The swagger has turned to a shuffle. Now is the moment we find out who we are. And if we are anything decent, anything that our trusting, hard-working parents and grandparents would have wished us to be, we will hold fast to what is important. We will make sure that nobody is left behind. We will give to those who need it most. This is a rich country, alive with ambition and intelligence. It is our choice whether we use those gifts for the pursuit of selfish gain, as we’ve gotten used to, or something more fundamental. We are, for the most part, and with some notable exceptions, all in it together. If we allow others to foist ill-thought-out strategies on us just to ensure that some bond holders, who do not care a whit for people, can take the skin off our backs then we are complicit in our own destruction. If we allow health cuts to sacrifice a single one of our weaker members then we are complicit in our own destruction. If we do not fight, haggle and scream about how important these, the weakest, are to our own essence as creatures capable of having a conscience, then we are complicit in our own destruction. Self interest over the last 15 years has guided us straight to hell. We could argue for several years about our accepting herd mentality in Ireland, but it would only serve one purpose: to stop us from actually doing anything. Winter is here and we no longer have that option.
That’s what I didn’t say. It’s not a plea for Jacob. It’s a plea for everyone who is different. And no matter how in the middle of the middle you consider yourself to be, you’re different too. Now that I’ve written it I’m kicking myself all the more.