We should show more sensitivity to those who are born different
I have been meaning to write this letter for a few days but finally got around to it today.
It refers to an article published in your newspaper relating to the death of a Russian guy in a garden in Kerry. His name escapes me (Dmitry Hrynkevich) but his face is embedded in my memory forever.
I don't know which of your good reporters wrote the article but he attended the same school in Kerry (I think) and remembers the children staring at him because he was so different to all of them. I usually stop in to a lovely place in Tuam called the Abbey Tavern for my Saturday morning coffee while my daughter attends gymnastic classes. I picked up your newspaper (Irish Independent, October 10) and started to read it. I stopped right in the middle of my coffee when I came across your excellent article. I started to get tears in my eyes and didn't even care.
It was so sensitively written and described the poor man's struggle to be accepted by his peers and adopted country. He never once fought back or lowered himself to others' standards when he was ridiculed and isolated.
He even tried to play football so that he could join in but his limbs were too long and gangly and made the others laugh even more. Now maybe to someone else this wouldn't seem too unusual but I grew up with two sisters, both born with a pituitary gland problem which stunted their growth from about the age of eight or nine.
Nowadays, apparently a little medication or growth hormone injections would easily sort it out but not that much detail was known about the condition 50 odd years ago so the girls had to live with the condition. Imagine every single time you go somewhere different, where you are not known, or accepted as 'normal', being stared at. Only once did somebody actually say anything and they had a few too many drinks that time so you could write that incident off.
Children are very funny to watch. They stare, pull Mammy's hand and say something and stare again, so I mentioned it one day to my husband after witnessing this and he made a really good observation. He said: "well, I am sure if it's explained properly and sensitively to the child they will not see the person any differently."
Isn't it all about how we as adults behave to ensure the children do the same?
Anyway to make a long story longer, we lost my beautiful full-of-life sister Kate at 43 from a massive brain haemorrhage which left her on a life support machine from a Wednesday to a Saturday in 2004. She passed away and broke our hearts on October 2, 2004, but great care and sensitivity was shown to her in University Hospital Galway.
Kind actions like this are in contrast to the lack of care shown to others, like the poor guy in Kerry.
I want you to find out which of your wonderful staff wrote that article and give him a big hug from me (maybe get a female staff member to do that) because he has done much to raise awareness of the delicate feelings of our lovely family members who are not born with the same advantages as others.
Kilgall, Claregalway, Co Galway
Editor's note: The name of the reporter was Wayne O'Connor
Put Earth before Mars
The current interest in Mars and in the possibility of it harbouring basic forms of life (Irish Independent, September 25) seems odd in the context of the many unanswered questions about life on Earth. Why get excited about a cold, barren desert with a hint of water and almost out of our reach, when there is so much crying out to be done on our own planet?
When Nikita Khrushchev, the former Soviet leader, visited West Berlin - then separated from East Berlin by the infamous wall - he informed a great gathering of the people that in a few years the Soviet Union would land a man on the moon; in about 20 years Soviet astronauts would visit Mars and move on to explore even more distant planets. He then invited questions from the audience. One lady asked: "When will I be able to travel to East Berlin to visit my daughter?" Khrushchev did not reply.
Many us are easily bewitched by the idea that the issues science explores are determined by the demands of science and not by moral considerations about what , in the context of human needs, we consider worthwhile investigating. This is particularly crucial in determining the most appropriate use of research funding.
Can we justify the vast expenditure on the exploration of space in the light of the need of millions for something as basic as clean drinking water? When I hear the triumphant declaration that water has been found on Mars, my intuitive response is, "So what?" However, should the charges for water continue to escalate, it may be become cheaper to import it from Mars.
The economy will fix everything
Aristotle said: "At his best man is the noblest of animals: separated from law and justice he is the worst."
Since the financial crisis, there has been a never-ending stream of political rhetoric that continuously impresses upon the listener the notion that economics will save us.
That this faceless, unquantifiable mish-mash of percentages, financial projections, budgets, bailouts, economic theory, taxes and a whole host of other fiscal terminology, generally referred to as an entity called "The Economy", is the path to our salvation.
Things are not so good now but if we somehow keep to a plan for "The Economy" we will at some point in a seemingly endless journey have solved all our woes.
If we fix the economy then society will be ushered through the pearly gates and our hard-working, well- dressed politicians will achieve this end. Only our politicians will achieve this, of course, for they are "economic experts" as their constant sound-bites tell us.
Laws must be changed, taxes must be raised, bankers must be brought in to bail out our economy.
If we become rich again, all of society's ills will disappear.
But first we must consolidate our recovery and stay on the economic path to our salvation.
Really? Someone also said that "money is the root of all evil".
Athenry, Co Galway
The opposite of boxing clever
The loss of Billy Walsh, the former head coach of Ireland's boxing team, to Irish sport is truly a knock-out blow.
Billy has given so many years of his life to this country, so it seems cruel that his career should now be in the USA.
To lose such a national treasure is the opposite of boxing clever.
M M O'Brien
Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin