Saturday 19 October 2019

John Masterson: 'I am European, and like you, an Earthling'

John Masterson: 'As I got older European became important to me'. Stock picture
John Masterson: 'As I got older European became important to me'. Stock picture

John Masterson

How we see ourselves has a big influence on how we think of other people. If they are not part of our gang it gives us reason to admire them or perhaps an excuse to look down on, or even fear them. Early on in life I must have realised I was male. A brother. A son. A friend. A dog lover and so on as my world expanded. Being from Kilkenny came soon after. Then Beatle fan. Golf addict. As I got older European became important to me. That is why Brexit is so troubling. It shocks me to hear vox pops with people who are desperate to get out of Europe. This is the same Europe that I feel a part of and I wonder what harm it seems to have done to them. It has done us nothing but good.

When we sort out the 'us' we can identify the 'them'. How we treat 'them' is a different matter altogether. Listening to some of the citizens of Co Galway responding to the plight of refugees made me a touch embarrassed to be Irish and human. The 'them' they are threatened by is a 'them' that I see as desperately needing some human help.

Probably before I became European I became an Earthling. As children we write an address on our books that ends with Ireland, Europe, the World but we don't quite get what it means. When people saw the Earthrise photo taken by Bill Anders from Apollo 8 it turned us all into 'us'. We share this fragile planet and looking at that photo it is difficult not to immediately become Green. It is so obvious that what happens on one part of the planet affects the rest of the planet. That thought- provoking observation that a butterfly "flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle" and subsequently a "storm ravages half of Europe" no longer seemed bonkers. It also becomes glaringly obvious that we humans are, in a very fundamental sense, equal.

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One important 'us' and 'them' in our daily lives is the political party we support, or possibly even join. Recently I heard a Government minister on the radio where, over the course of 15 minutes, he managed to answer no questions. We got a variety of there is a "review group" looking at that, and there is a "study" being done on that. It was as if the man had no opinions of his own. Once again I cringed to be Irish and human. That is one party I will not be joining. But like many people I have never joined a political party because, while I might agree with a lot of policy, there would be things that I could not stomach.

If you begin with Earthrise there is an inevitable morality that follows and much of it finds its way into the Green agenda. They do see the world as a community where what happens in one part of the world affects us all. And how we treat people always matters. That we can organise a society with those first principles matters. This is the very embodiment of the golden rule to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. If there was an election tomorrow I would probably vote Green. But what about joining the party. Would they even let me in? I am a two-car, one motorbike family. I am not yet mature enough to get my head around an electric car that cannot be push-started when it goes flat, and does not make that throaty roar that any car with a healthy self-concept makes.

My self-image is comfortable being a citizen of the world. We are all 'us' and there is no 'them', just other versions of us. Maybe the Greens would let me in as an associate member who is on the right path, very good at recycling, has his own 'keep cup', but still has vehicle issues. I will buy an electric scooter if that makes a difference.

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