News Letters

Monday 15 September 2014

Lessons on society you can pick up from a penguin

Published 08/05/2014 | 02:30

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Penguins show us how democracy works

* In the animal world, the definition of democracy is the penguin. This is so because when the harsh winds blow, the penguins all huddle together to benefit from each other's shelter. The penguins then take turns at the outside of the group so that the group as a whole survives. It is simple enough and mutually beneficial to all even though it was thought up by birdbrains.

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In the human world, the law is meant to perform this process. Indeed, anyone who has gone to the bother of reading the Irish Constitution will see the many rights and theories therein, which try to move us to this practical Utopia. It is why we have referenda, for example – each vote being our chance to have a "turn" in the decision-making processes.

In the modern western world, the birth of the legal system is said to go back to the Magna Carta. It was the birth of the end of the notion that some men were more equal than others.

It was signed by the elite out of fear – no other reason. They were outnumbered, plain and simple, but they still had the traditional and ignorant strength of tradition, which allowed for only a few concessions to be made.

The law has been seen as a protector of individual rights since in this part of the modern world. Therefore, the law must be fair and practical. It must respect the person regardless of any pomp or privilege they may or may not enjoy in society.

In Ireland, we have a democracy that in theory dispels the notion of kingship, that dispels the notion of an elite huddling in the middle while others take the brunt.

Yet we have an increasing burgeoning of wealth at the centre. The penguins have their own way of insuring the hardship is meted out fairly. One can only assume that, in Ireland, those we seem to elect to Government are intellectually below that of a penguin. Seeing as they seem to support vulture funds over those who stood bravely against the harsh wind of large property taxes.

DERMOT RYAN

ATHENRY, GALWAY

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

* On the subject of the existence or not of God, the French Nobel Prize-winning author Albert Camus once wrote: "I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than to live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is." Me too.

M REILLY

DROGHEDA, CO LOUTH

ATHEISTS AND DEITIES

* Killian Foley-Walsh (Letters, May 6) seems to think that an atheist should not write a letter to this newspaper stating his belief that God does not exist. I should remind Killian that he is just one god away from being an atheist himself, presuming he does not believe in any of the other thousands of deities that are worshipped around the world.

He is absolutely right when he says that claiming that God does not exist does not mean that God does not exist. It is simply my belief, based on the lack of meaningful evidence to the contrary, and I do not understand why this belief seems to be so threatening to Killian's sensibilities.

SEAN SMITH

KILLUA, CLONMELLON, NAVAN, CO MEATH

PERCEPTIVE BELIEFS

* I found Dermot Ryan's beliefs (Letters, May 7) about 'what makes man unique is a concept of time' and that 'nobody has answered the big questions – where did we come from and why are we here?' extremely perceptive.

Also James Gleeson's letter (May 7) about the Bible being the word of God and how he is able to use that greatest gift of discernment to understand his place in creation is something that I would encourage more Irish people to consider.

Ultimately we, as members of God's creation, will answer to Jesus sooner or later. Many Irish people really seem to have lost their belief in God, which is such a shame.

On a related note and accepting of the jovial nature of her comments, I see Mary Lou McDonald on Fenian Street thinks nothing of jokes comparing Jesus Christ to Gerry Adams. One was the saviour and prince of peace and the other was the antithesis of peace.

ALASTAIR DONALDSON

CROSSMAGLEN, NEWRY

A TANGLED WEB

* Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we learn to deceive, said Sir Walter Scott, and wasn't he right?

That said, what is the difference between breaking the law and committing an offence?

The average person on the street would think they are one and the same – so does that mean that the guy in Mountjoy for not having a TV licence has not only broken the law, but has committed an offence as well?

RJ HANLY

SCREEN, CO WEXFORD

PRAISE FOR HOSPITAL STAFF

* On Good Friday 2014, I unfortunately found myself in a position where my 12-year-old son needed medical attention. Rushing to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, we experienced first-class treatment from the moment we entered the building.

All staff conducted themselves in the most professional, yet friendly, manner. Necessary tests were carried out and my son was seen regularly by a specific nurse and doctor. Thankfully everything was fine. I must wholeheartedly thank the staff.

ROCHELLE CONEFREY

CHORLEY, LANCASHIRE

CONDEMNED TO AUSTERITY

* M O'Brien regrets the fact that we barely hear 'the din created by those who feel they have been short-changed by austerity' (Letters, May 7).

The letter also quotes Edmund Burke's famous saying that for injustice or evil to thrive, it is sufficient that good men do nothing.

The present austerity was caused by the country being bankrupted by decisions of a small number of the most powerful during the boom.

When all of that was happening, there was no din at all about what was going on. Many of those who turned a blind eye then are complaining now about the short-changing of the most vulnerable.

They should have created much more of a din during the boom when everyone was short-changed by having the country bankrupted and condemned to austerity.

A LEAVY

SHIELMARTIN DRIVE, SUTTON, DUBLIN 13

SAFETY ON OUR ROADS

* Garda and Road Safety Authority statistics show that 82pc of accidents occur on two-way roads with 80 and 100km/h speed limits.

In 2013, 4,410 drivers received speeding penalty points in Northern Ireland, compared with 205,719 in the Republic of Ireland. On this and other bank holiday weekends, the garda speed detection unit enforced rigidly the 80 km/h speed limit on one major dual carriageway.

Insurance companies agree with the enforcement of these speed limits as they benefit to the tune of 30pc for each penalty point issued for the following three years.

When speed limits are correctly set, enforcement should take place on every kilometre of road in Ireland.

Recent road fatalities show that setting and enforcing incorrect speed limits appears to be a financial and not a road safety issue.

FRANK CULLINANE

GLASNEVIN PARK, DUBLIN 11

RESCUED FROM THE RAT

* Labour TD Kevin Humphreys came to the rescue of his fellow TDs on Friday when a rat was discovered in Leinster House.

Well done Kevin, that was a good start.

GG FINN

CO KERRY

Irish Independent

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