Saturday 1 October 2016

Man's inhumanity to man never ends, as history repeats itself

Published 12/09/2015 | 02:30

A refugee couple and their children walk along rail tracks in Macedonia
A refugee couple and their children walk along rail tracks in Macedonia

Given the dreadful news cycle, one would be forgiven for thinking the world is falling apart. We have been here before. TS Eliot began his dark masterpiece, 'The Waste Land', in 1919 after the horrors of World War I, depicting a world on the edge of ruin.

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Bob Dylan took up the theme some 40 years later with songs such as 'Desolation Row' and 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall', the latter seen by many as the view of the world following a nuclear war.

Later on, the Los Angeles-based poet Charles Bukowski wrote about a world in chaos in his poem 'Dinosauria, We'. Human history seems to have one constant - its ability to repeat the horrors of war by even greater horrors touched on by Leonard Cohen in his song 'Anthem': "Bought and sold and bought again the dove is never free".

It has been said that war is politics with guns, and politics is war without guns. We are given to believe that, as each generation progresses, it gets more intelligent, more civilised and more rational. Yet, despite all the progress, the capacity to inflict violence - man's inhumanity to man - never diminishes. The causes of war are many and complex.

Once one war ends, another erupts. The guns never rust, the blade never grows blunt. The 24-hour news cycle seems to ratchet up this notion of a world in turmoil, yet what is going on is merely repetition, a never-ending sequel. If there is hope, perhaps it lies in the fact that humanity is still appalled by a three-year-old boy being washed up dead on a shore.

The day mankind becomes immune to such images is the day that Eliot's poem will come to pass.

Joseph Kiely

Donegal town

Co Donegal

 

Rural Ireland living in fear

In rural Ireland today, nobody is interested in the real issues that are affecting people's lives. It is indeed hard to understand why people in authority are ignoring the issues rural Ireland is facing on many fronts - jobs, education, lack of transport, paying like fools for our water. We are being left behind by policies that are killing off the structure of post offices and schools, the non-viability of co-operatives, shops, pubs and filling stations. But the issue highlighted by reports in your paper by journalist Paul Williams (Irish Independent, September 8) is perhaps the most pressing - that of the security of rural people.

We are watching the structures disappearing. But to leave people vulnerable and ill at ease is causing major problems.

Rural Ireland is now been watched over by a very depleted and under-manned security presence. The Garda station structure has been uncoupled for a few euro, with premises that were once the centre of local security being sold. Mr Williams, a most courageous writer, has captured the issues and the lack of central Government commitment - the last government unfortunately initiated this process, with this one has completing it.

At least we can look forward now to more immigration, which will look very well with the powers in Europe. Meanwhile, the ordinary rural resident is vulnerable to all.

Sean Maher

Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny

 

Politicians at fault in the North

I was just reading the piece written by Mark O'Regan (Irish Independent, September 10), where he stated that gardaí believe an IRA gang was planning to derail the Northern Ireland peace process. How that IRA gang and all those who wanted the peace process to fail must be laughing now.

Had unionist and other politicians any real interest in maintaining democracy, equality and a progressive future, they would not have allowed these acts of violence to derail the whole democratic process.

The IRA, UDA, UVF, UFF and all the various paramilitary organisations still exist in some form - but they are no longer a threat to the political process unless the politicians give them that power by strutting out of the Assembly and bringing down power sharing.

Politicians need to recognise the difference between criminals who were once members of paramilitaries - and are using that fact to progress criminality - and the fact that, as stated by the PSNI chief constable, the IRA is no longer a threat to the peace process. There are also criminals operating under the name of various loyalist paramilitary organisations, yet there is no outcry about this.

It is essential that politics works, because if it doesn't, violence could return to the streets of Northern Ireland in the void left, and those who collapsed the political process will have to shoulder the blame.

"The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks of the next election and a statesman thinks of the next generation," theologian and author James Freeman Clarke said.

We could do with a few more statesmen to look to the future and fewer politicians who are just looking for power and the next vote, regardless of the price to be paid.

Name and address with editor

 

Rugby World Cup hits sour note

I'd sing 'Amhrán na bhFiann' at the start of the All-Ireland hurling final.

A brother of mine once described it as the greatest moment of the year. It encapsulates our love and pride in our country, our Gaelic heritage, our native games and unique culture and, indeed, ourselves as a nation.

On September 19, a team wearing green jerseys to represent Ireland will play their first match in this year's Rugby World Cup championship being held in England.

Unlike all the other 19 teams representing their countries, because of the prejudices of a minority, this team will not have a national anthem or flag.

By contrast with their counterparts in the GAA, who play for love of parish and county, these men are paid professionals. They are employees of the IRFU.

If the IRFU told them that, if they could not accept our national anthem and flag, they could find jobs elsewhere, I wonder how many would be willing to give up a well- paid job for their 'principles'?

Brian P O Cinneide

Durban, South Africa

 

Stop playing the blame game

There are many Irish sports and social activities but there's one that has endured longer than all the others. Before Cú Chulainn ever hit a sliothair, we had perfected it.

And it was well before the 'garrison games', in the form of soccer, rugby and cricket, came to our shores. The game at which we so excelled was the 'blame game'.

It is being played today in the North. Sadly, no one ever wins.

Ed Toal

Galway city

Irish Independent

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