We have swapped idealism for apathy and confusion
What's the obvious connection between the growth of modern Sinn Féin and the 1916 Rising?
Last Friday week, there was a segment on the Late Late Show about the 1916 commemorations with a panel comprising historian Robert Ballagh, journalist Martina Devlin, Ivan Yates and performer/comedian Blindboy Boatclub of The Rubberbandits, who got the warmest reception of the evening for the frank views on how life for his generation (18-30 somethings) is arguably worse than 100 years ago.
"They had it incredibly hard but what we don't have is the idealism that they had," he said, referencing World War I and the (then) recent industrial revolution. People today "can't afford houses or to have children, they are leaving the country or jumping in rivers."
"We don't know who the enemy is. When there was an Empire, the Brits, with the guns, you knew who the enemy was. Now, we are in a state of confusion."
How true is that! We keep being told that we are doing well, that the good days are, if not quite back, on the way. But it doesn't feel like that.
Instead, there is a big empty hole inside.
At a practical level, this is partly due to the emigration of a whole swathe of bright young people, if not from the country entirely, then from the communities where their energy and enthusiasm is greatly needed.
Or just think about the upcoming general election. I will vote, as I always have. Because this is what I was brought up to do. But, other than those directly involved, most of us are largely disengaged from politicians and the electoral process.