I grew up not very far from a former Christian Brothers Industrial School. We local boys spent many enjoyable evenings playing football and handball with the boys who resided there.
One of my favourite activities was helping out with the harvesting of fruit and vegetables in the Brothers’ farm during the late summer. One particular day, we were picking apples when the Christian Brother in charge of the farm, appropriately named Brother Farmer, arrived into the orchard accompanied by a black boy.
None of us had ever seen a black boy before, so I instinctively exclaimed, ‘Oh my God, it’s a black boy.’ Brother Farmer smiled benignly at me and gently replied, ‘his skin is black, Billy boy, but his soul is as white as snow. It’s not the colour of your skin that matters but the joy in your heart and the goodness in your soul.’ I will never forget those profound words.
That African boy stayed on for a year preparing to become a Christian Brother. We became great friends and I missed him when he left to pursue his spiritual formation.
He later studied for the priesthood and eventually returned to Africa where he has become a powerful advocate for universal education and religious freedom.
We have remained in close contact and meet up occasionally. Virtual communication now allows us to regularly touch base. In his emails he humorously addresses me as ‘Dear white boy.’ Because of a God-sent interaction with a black boy in my early teenage years, I learned that ‘all lives matter,’ irrespective of colour, race, creed or orientation.
Tralee, Co Kerry
Add threat level 10 to account for ignorant and arrogant
Today I saw a risk table of infection with Covid-19, from one (restaurant takeaways and tennis) to nine (concerts, bars and stadiums), all reasonably supported by observation of this novel virus.
Given the breakout of infections in Beijing (‘second surge’), Singapore and the apparently uncontrolled spread in Mexico, Brazil and parts of the US, maybe an additional level, 10, should be added: mixing with the ignorant, the arrogant/entitled and those assured of their invulnerability (and ‘feck’ the rest of ye).
I wrote a comment letter last week asking why we had not already established religious events against Covid-19: this was not meant to insult those with faith but to highlight the acceptance of false news and unsupported evidence. But I see in yesterday’s ‘Sunday Times’ we have a Wicklow faith “healer” offering protection from the virus: Normal service is being resumed, thank God!
Address with editor
Misplaced loans and grants not wise use of our resources
In London private crèches and pre-schools opened last week with maximum precautions. They dropped charges to 20pc which parents paid during the lockdown to retain places and regular contact from the crèche. They got no subsidies or grants and are now working at the capacity they can, gradually building up attendance.
Our local hardware shop opened two weeks ago with proper distancing and systems to protect their customers and staff. They got no support to do this and are gradually building their business again after closure. All the local grocery stores put in controls, systems and hand care to prevent spread of the virus and remained open to be there for their local customers without financial support.
We now have a situation in which the Government is responding to calls for financial support and creating dependency, in various business sectors by proffering grants, guaranteed loans and supports. The proliferation of multi-department, multi-focus aid is misplaced and unnecessary.
This rush to appease various sectors and give in to many spurious claims of loss or increased cost is a continuance of political promotion of our misguided political system of governance.
Restaurants and pubs should understand that they are starting as of new when they open. The fiction of loss of earnings, need for reduction in distancing and the need to employ more staff need to be faced. The number of customers they attract in future will depend on how safe customers feel they are in the venue environment from a distance and time perspective.
Support for farmers is considered, as is support for toll road loss of earnings, together with calls from many other sectors because of loss of earnings or spurious increased costs responded to will add very little to our economy and the quality of life of the majority of the population.
The continuance of the Government providing support for private businesses and supporting insolvent/irrelevant State, semi-state, quangos and public bodies needs to stop and our resources used wisely for the citizens of the nation.
Dromahair, Co Leitrim