We've never felt more battered or bruised as a nation. We're the laughing stock of Europe, in hock for the rest of our lives, and sometimes it's hard to remember that we're still the society of kind, sociable and helpful people we always were.
his week's appalling weather has brought out the best in us. And in some cases, the worst, unfortunately. The finding of reserves within us to think a little of others along with ourselves is being repeated in random acts of kindness all over the country.
People are digging each other's cars out of the snow, as my colleague Terry Prone reported this week; they're topping up friends and family with advice on traffic conditions, making sure they're okay and all sorts of other little things that take no effort at all, but are hugely appreciated. Here are some things we can all do today:
- If you managed to make it out in your car, you're most likely heading to the shops to stock up on provisions. An elderly neighbour or mum with toddlers mightn't be so lucky. Give them a quick call, or knock on the door to see if they need anything. You're sure to be met with a massive sigh of relief and a huge smile.
- Bring home extra basics just in case. If someone needs it, you can pass it on. If not, you can always freeze it.
- A neighbour's heating broken down? Pop in with an electric heater or blankets you really don't need but that they'll appreciate. Offer to phone a plumber you know on their behalf.
- If you think you can probably make it to work and a colleague lives en route -- go together. If you do get stranded, two heads are better than one, and you can have a laugh about it, too.
- If the neighbourhood kids are out having a snowball fight and freezing to death -- make a giant bowl of popcorn or some hot chocolate and bring it onto the street. You'll soon be joined by their parents doing the same! Residents' associations have been formed on less.
- Use your contacts to help others. You might know someone with a truck or jeep who could be able to pick up some basics such as milk, bread, coal or firelighters -- they can get two or three lots while they're at it and drop them in to you. Then you can pass them on to people in need. You may even have a builder buddy who has a digger or some spare shovels -- don't just clear your own driveway, but your neighbour's too.
- It's not just little old ladies who need help crossing the road. Give anyone laden down with bags a hand. It's the little things that put a smile on people's faces.
...But there'll always be the selfish ones. I was overtaken yesterday by a roaring jeep as I inched my way along our road. A huge deluge of snow sprayed all over my car sending me into a skid. Thanks, buddy.
Be a snow saviour this week -- remember what it is about us that makes us Irish. It's not the debts and the shame: it's our own spirit of generosity and kindness.