Saturday 22 October 2016

Die for my country...? Erm, no thanks

John Masterson

Published 26/10/2015 | 02:30

Comedian Andrew Maxwell.
Comedian Andrew Maxwell.

I have always admired comedians. Even the ones I might not find very funny.

  • Go To

Firstly, they tend to be very intelligent, and with minds like sponges. Secondly, they are often well informed on deeply serious matters. They are fascinated by, and often well versed in, the big questions. And thirdly, they are brave. They have to be. There is always someone out there ready to accuse them of bad taste and myriad other sins because there are a lot of people who have no sense of humour.

These qualities were demonstrated by Andrew Maxwell during a radio chat with Ray D'Arcy recently. As they skipped from topic to topic Ray wondered out loud what Andrew thought of 1916 and gave him plenty of room to duck the topic. But instead we got a serious and informative interview for five minutes or so before they moved on to another topic.

Would he die for his country Andrew asked himself? No he wouldn't. He would rather live for his country. Andrew is a pacifist and makes it clear he doesn't have much time for people who do not win their arguments with words. He believes that some form of independence, with partition, was on the way without a shot being fired. And then he spoke of the two hundred plus civilians who died. Collateral, and forgotten, damage. 1916, he said, leaves us with no moral authority to face down paramilitaries as how can you say the Old IRA is good and the new IRA is bad? Those who took part in the Rising were a tiny minority of Republican opinion. "I fear," he said "we will be commemorating a small number of people for a blood sacrifice." And, while he was clear that there should be some sort of marking that our modern state does date back to the events of 1916, a "celebration" did not feel right. Most people with such opinions might not have voiced them. But comedians are brave. I was gratified that there seemed to be no huge fuss the next day. And he forced me to go back to my history books because I have long felt uneasy about many of these same questions.

Like Andrew I would not die for my country, or for anything, voluntarily. Though I hope I would have the guts to protect a loved one from a violent attack. I am not a pacifist. Not in a world that spawns Hitler and ISIS.

The Proclamation said we should "cherish the children of the nation equally" and I am all for that. And that there should be "equal rights and equal opportunities for all (its) citizens" which was forward thinking as women did not have the vote back then.

I always wonder about the intentional blood sacrifice, apart from Pearse, and he was a strange person by any psychological criteria. But they were prepared to die. They could not have known that General Maxwell was going to prove everything they thought about a brutal, arrogant imperialist country correct. But I had not realised that there were more civilians killed than British soldiers and Irish volunteers.

Sunday Indo Living

Read More

Promoted articles

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice