I am human. I am a man. I am Catholic. I am Irish.

Month: February 2015

Maybe it is time to Bring back the Clans

clan4“Don’t make the same mistakes as your relatives” my mother would imply when she would say things like “Oh your uncle Tommy Joe will never be dead, as long as you’re alive” or “you’re just like your aunt Elsie you know”. Poor old Tommy Joe and aunt Elsie would get some touch week in week out, all in the aid of perfecting my defective character by instilling within me the fear of God that I would turn out like them. Yet, all and all, to be honest about it, Tommy Joe wasn’t a bad fella. He was a type of lovable rogue who might never have told a word of truth but he told great stories and he would typically leave a smile on your face at the end of the night. Aunt Elsie might have been a wee bit eccentric and prone to a little insanity now and then but she was a strong, faithful woman who ensured her children, nieces and nephews knew how to move their way around a rosary. For all their faults there was so much to these people that could be considered good and worthy even of emulation.

My mother had many ways of keeping us “way’ans” (wee ones) in line but despite all her appeals to our ancestral troubles we all had the sense to see in our many forefathers and mothers the definition between defect and virtue. We did not grow up to reject our kin but instead sought to embrace the quantities of qualities we admired and respected such as strength, wit, tenacity, integrity and much more. In many cases, we embraced the good and avoided the bad. What form of mental illness would we children have been suffering from if we had operated in the opposite manner? What form of sociological illness does our world live under today to in fact be operating in that opposite manner?

Between the 11th and 18th centuries, there existed a most admirable system of life, which to this day stirs  in Irish people a deep sense of pride. It originated and grew in Ireland before expanding across the sea to Scotland, the home of our Gaelic brothers and sisters and it cultivated some of the most respected names in our history like Bruce, Campbell, Armstrong, Cunningham or Hamilton. These names of the great Scottish clan system moved south across the Irish Sea and became integrated and accepted in Ireland also.

A clan was a noble community with a shared identity and descent from a common leader or chief. They had their own coat of arms and tartan design to distinguish them from their neighbors. They consisted of many families with multiple surnames, often unrelated, who lived in the territory of the clan chief. Because territories were small it was likely that everyone knew those who were members of their community. The rule of leadership would likely have been more personal compared to what we have today where people of Ireland have no choice but to obey unknown, distant and rigid faces of people who know them not and who make little effort to know them. Disputes were settled in the community and so decisions were made for the benefit of the local people rather than for the good of a governmental shadow hanging over their head.

Now, let me be clear. I am not advocating a full-scale return to the clan system because we know very well that it was a harsh and often dangerous time with many issues. However, I at least want it to be an option and at the very least I would like the opportunity to turn to it and adopt what was good from it rather than completely dismissing it altogether. Just because it is part of the past and is no longer operational, does not mean that it does not hold elements of value that could be utilized and found beneficial to our society today.

clan3There is a disturbing trend in our world today to dismiss or outright reject the wisdom of the past. People call for practical solutions to our societal issues and desperately we attempt to discover that new system, that new ideology, which will transform our world, renew us and place us on the path to utopia. People look forward to the latest fad or idea. Evolutionists will talk about how society has evolved, taking all the good from the past and becoming something more solid, more moral and great. They tell us we have come from a darker, unenlightened period and, although we are not there yet, we are moving in the right direction. “Our ‘collective organism’ is improving,” they would announce. That is what we are led to believe. The problem is that a collective is not an organism. People are organisms. Collectives do not evolve, but are shaped by the individuals within them. And those in power tend to do the shaping to benefit themselves while the real organisms, the people they lead, suffer for their supposedly enlightened practical decision making.

The old political line that we must look to the future is a lie. The concept of “new politics” is a lie. It is merely a catchphrase to appeal to people who desperately want something, anything to change for their benefit. I am saying, instead of looking to the future, let us look to the past; you know, the past that people are so desperately afraid of, those past practices that are considered no more. Should we reject the whole system just because it did not last? Or would it not be logical and make more sense to look at what has worked in the past, the good elements of our many tried human systems: of the clan system, the Greek system, the Roman system and so on, to find what we could today add or change about our current failing system to make it better?

It almost seems like cowardice that we do not look back because we are so afraid of not living up to the great minds that have come before us or we are scared to death of being faced with the reality that humans have failed and therefore we modern humans could fail also. It is much easier to write an idealistic future in our heads (or manifestos) because it can be anything we want and as successful as we want because it has not yet happened. My friends, all this is fiction. It is a big fictional story sold by politicians and theorists who want you to buy their book or vote them back into power.

clansmanIf I want to become a better person, I will look to my ancestors and discover what it is they have done which is good, noble, worthy and I will seek to emulate that good. I will be aware of those qualities, which are negative and I will seek to avoid them. But I will reject any notion that I must renounce them completely. In the same way we must, as a society, not be afraid to look back at our heritage to find out what worked for our people. If it worked we should seek to reintegrate those ideas and methods instead of rejecting them for some fictional future, which will, supposedly, lead us to a land of milk and honey. We all know it never will.

Be proud of your history and fight so that modern power mongers do not force us into their superficial future.

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Defending Innocence: Father Roland Calhoun

calhounOne of the nastiest forms of attack, which has spiraled out of control in recent decades, is the use of the media to form and shape the minds of the public. There appears to be no relenting as this machine of the state tramples over our freedoms and tears the pillars of our culture to the ground. A picture can express a thousand words. The way a title is worded can lead people to focus their thought in a direction deliberately designed by the agenda of the writer or the news outlet. The job of these corporate manipulators is to sell a product, to extract the money of the public and they do so by sensationalizing their story lines and appealing to popular trends in the culture. And no trend is more popular in our modern Ireland than tearing down the Catholic Church.

And so enters Donna Deeney of the Belfast Telegraph who wrote an article this month entitled “Yoga and Indian head massages lead to Satanism, says Northern Irish priest”.

Now I do not know Father Roland Calhoun and I have no knowledge of his personal life but the purpose of this article is to call out the deceptive nature of those who claim to be feeding our country fair and neutral information. In fact, if Catholic priests have committed crimes or have been involved in scandals I would be the first to accept they should answer for their actions. However, in this case, Donna Deeney has made every effort to turn the mind of the Irish people against an innocent man just because he is a priest. She has yet to write an article, which highlights the beauty and strength of Catholicism. In her cowardice she has become a conformer and has bought into the tide of anti Catholicism that appears to be sweeping the world. There is nothing brave about parroting popular opinion and packaging it as “journalism”. Real bravery is having the courage to stand up for age old Truths even if you have to pay the ultimate price. Father Calhoun is not giving his life physically but Donna Deeney has made every effort to destroy his reputation and paint him as an extremist. She has done this at no expense to herself.

Here is why this coward must be called out for what she is:

  1. She based her article off an interview given by Father Calhoun in the Derry journal. Here is the link to that article: “Derry priest warns of risk involved in yoga” . If you read the original article you will see that Father Calhoun never once mentioned the word “satanism”. Satanism is the religious worship of evil. Father Calhoun was in no way linking yoga to satanism. Yet Donna Deeney would have you believe that he did. This is dishonest. Donna Deeney is a liar.
  2. Father Calhoun is a Catholic. Why would anyone be surprised if he would attempt to teach what Catholics believe? Yet Donna Deeney attempts to paint him as a foolish or crazy man and in the process, due to association, she attempts to make the Catholic Church look out of touch with modern thought.
  3. Once again, Catholicism is what Father Calhoun has signed on for. The Catholic Church has clearly taught about the existence of a spiritual world were there are good spirits and evil spirits, souls and heaven and so on. When he speaks of these things it is because that is the role of a Catholic priest – to teach us about Catholicism. Donna Deeney appears to think this is an extraordinary idea to report about…or she is doing it deliberately to discredit the Church in the mind of Irish people.
  4. Yoga can mean several things in our modern world. Typically in the Western world it is related to stretching and breathing. If, in fact, that is all it is then there is no problem from the perspective of the Catholic Church. What the Catholic Church, who Father Calhoun represents, has an issue with is when yoga begins to incorporate the practice of other religions which the Church believes to be untrue. Donna Deeny may do well to read and review the Vatican document “Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation
  5. In Hinduism there is belief in many gods who are not the Triune God. If they are not the Triune God, then what are they? If they don’t exist then why bother worshipping them or involving yourself with them at all? If they do exist and they are not involved in directing the person toward God but instead direct us away from the faith considered true and holy, then isn’t it logical to assume they are bad? In yoga, a Hindu practice, a person postures their body in poses or stretches, which were originally designed as offerings to Hindu gods. You can then conclude what you want about its practice.
  6. In Buddhism, there is a belief in spirituality, which is fundamentally opposed to that of Christianity. The practice of Buddhism essentially focuses the individual inwards upon the self while Christianity essentially focuses one outward toward love of others.
  7. The question for any person who is Catholic, like the “good Catholic” presented in Donna Deeney’s article, is why would anyone want to substitute the beautifully Christ focused Catholic meditative practice of Eucharistic adoration for the inward self-focusing meditation of yoga? Yoga proponents must answer this.
  8. Father Calhoun is quoted out of context and his ideas are manipulated by the twisting of Donna Deeney to make his perfectly acceptable defense of his faith sound ridiculous and outlandish. She purposefully presents two versions of Catholicism – the poor, unfortunate tale of the “good Catholic” Evelyn Donnelly and the mean spirited out of touch priest Father Calhoun trying to stifle her. She creates this dichotomy deliberately to appeal to the emotion of the reader for it is in the emotion that a person is most easily swayed.
  9. Father Calhoun is not in any way stifling the freedom of Evelyn Donnelly as we are lead to believe in this pathetic piece. Ms. Donnelly is free to practice yoga all she wants. What is most disingenuous is that Donna Deeney makes it look like Father Calhoun is trying to stop her when he is simply explaining and teaching Catholicism as he is charged to do. If Evelyn Donnelly rejects what he says then that is her prerogative and Donna Deenys. You can see how Donna Deeney engineers her article to control the reader and turn them against the priest, an innocent man.
  10. The Catholic Church teaches exorcism. This should not be a shock. Therefore, Father Calhoun rightly believes, as his faith teaches, the very real possibility of people becoming obsessed and even possessed by evil. Gabriel Amorth, the Vatican exorcist, provides multiple testimonies to the existence of evil and the effect it has on the human mind if we allow ourselves to be open to the bad side of the spiritual world (An Exorcist Tells His Story; An Exorcist: More Stories). M. Scott Peck, a renowned psychiatrist testifies to the existence of evil and his experiences dealing with real possession in his book “Glimpses of the devil: A psychiatrists personal accounts of possession”. Read these testimonies if you doubt.

These types of attacks against Catholicism have gained frequency and popularity and represent one of the greatest and most insidious threats to Ireland in modern times. It is time that brave Irish men and women stood up and exposed these people for what they are even if it means losing your reputation and popularity, even if it means losing your life. The early Christians died for their faith, for Christ, even when they had an opportunity to save themselves by renouncing their Christian beliefs. Ireland must raise brave, strong men and women to give all they are, to become true Irish heroes and finally, when finished, to write their names in heaven.

For an excellent synopsis of the incompatibility of yoga and Catholicism please read “The trouble with yoga” by Michelle Arnold of Catholic Answers.

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Irish Men: Now is not the time to stop fighting

fighting handsMy uncle was a fighter. He has, in my time, always been a fighter. Even though he is older now, there is little doubt he still holds the fighter’s compulsion and fierceness, which has in his time encouraged many other men into a state of acceptance. As a boy I marveled at the tales conveyed by other men on work sites, and in hearth-warmed homes down country lanes about his strength and the ferocity of his passion to stand by his convictions and to force other men, in turn, who demanded he adapt, to leave him in peace. I derived great pride from those stories and they fed my young vision of masculinity as I became adamant to become just as determined, strong and, to my young mind, invulnerable, as he had physically made himself to be. He was a heroic figure to a boy and because he was of my own blood I therefore felt almost like his victories and temperament were mine also to be grasped.

“Bad tempered” some called him. “A raging mad man” others would scoff. Although these concepts also passed by my thought, it became apparent there was more to his case. For I have witnessed both bad temper and the raging mad man but my uncle possessed something each of those dispositions lacked, he had reason and direction. He had a cause, a philosophy, an ideology, which he held sacred and dear and for which he was prepared to fight, even to give his life. This may not have been apparent to other men. It may not even have been apparent to him. But my uncle was defending a most innate human hunger. He was claiming his right to be free.

On one occasion, in a local pub, he was sitting having a drink and talking with his brother (my other uncle) when some fella sitting on the other side of the bar challenged him. The fella was drunk and had some quarrel; he didn’t like the way my uncle had spoken earlier. The man was given several opportunities to air his opinions and his point was taken. On several occasions others spoke to him saying, “all right now you’ve said your pace” and “that’s enough now lave it”. Despite this, the sermon continued and became more abusive. After holding back for a good half hour, in two very quick movements my uncle expressed his opinion, once with his fist and second with his boot. The dialogue was concluded.

As the years rolled by, I came to realize that men in the community had adopted three methods of approach with my uncle. They chose to befriend him, to fight him, or alternately to outright avoid him. It was obvious nonetheless that whatever approach they adopted they came to develop a profound respect for his way. You see, although no man in that world was able to verbalize it, they knew in their own way that my uncle was fighting to maintain an age-old truth, that all men have an inherent right to their own personality and to have the freedom to operate within a culture unrestricted by the expectations of individuals. In other words, he fought for his right and the rights of others to just be themselves. There are always people, drunk or sober, who will claim right to stifle this freedom. They will make reference to social norm or their personal moral certitude. My uncle, like many men in the community, resisted this the only way he knew how, with his fists. This was his only recourse, for few might have understood or been willing to listen to a reasoned argument.

“Lave me in pace to be and I will lave you in pace. Obstruct my freedom to live in pace and I will resist you will all the strength I can amass.”

It was a simple way of settling a dispute and it was how men did their talking in those places, but it was also powerful and effective because not only did both men get their say, they knew exactly were each other stood. Those men surely fought out their disagreement but upon completion they both had expressed themselves fully and they both left with significant understanding and appreciation for the other.

In other circles life, is not so simple. Attempts to stifle freedom come packaged in a craftier and more obscured manner. It is a modus operandi of grander, loftier halls of universities and other intellectual institutions where the idea of settling a dispute with ones fists would be deemed archaic, savage or animalistic in nature. Indeed, those men who wear long flowing gowns to signify their dignified status or stand behind podiums preaching policy based on their “mandate,” would have you believe there is a much more elegant and civilized manner for settling a disagreement. Indeed they refer to this manner as “compromise” and the virtue they offer for achievement of this goal is known as “tolerance”.

Now these words “compromise” and “tolerance” appear, at first glance, exceptionally appealing to the untrained eye. Who in their right mind would not want compromise? Who in their right mind would reject “tolerance”? Well that is exactly how modern social information centers have been set up. Their message is designed to sway you to accept a particular way of thinking. And this, my friend, is they point at which we must fight back. Here is why:

If we accept compromise as the goal, it means we must in some way relinquish either some, or most of our convictions or beliefs in order for many incompatible ideas to be dispersed into some newly formed adulteration of a belief system. In those grand lofty intellectual halls they call this pluralism. We will be told that if we disagree with someone, we are intolerant and therefore we should hold our tongues. If we accept this argument, what happens eventually is that individuals begin to fear the true expression of themselves in case they invite ridicule from others. If it carries on long enough, we become a nation of many thoughts but no Truth. Truth becomes no longer visible but rather fades into a fog of polymorphic mess.

When two men argue a point to its end with no restrictions on their personal expression, it becomes one of the strongest foundations of a good friendship. If two men are afraid to express what they believe, neither of them will ever truly know each other. Instead, they develop prejudices or caricatures, not of who the other person is, but rather of what they think the person is. If you want to really know a person and develop a relationship founded on respect the answer is not compromise or tolerance, it is argument and honesty.

In Ireland if we seek to discover the ideal way to live as a person and in community, we must first begin by being open to a good old-fashioned, honest argument and debate. Now, there is a distinct possibility that we could be wrong in our convictions. No one can claim to know all Truth. But we must never cease searching for it, for that perfect way, the ultimate way of living most in tune with humanity. It is through the seeking that we will be satisfied, from being heard and from listening to the promptings of our hearts.

My friends, if we want true freedom in Ireland, we must never let go of that old Irish temperament to engage others and their ideas with honest appraisal. We must fight all forms of authority that require us to tolerate to the point that we give up our identity and our belief in Truth. Our convictions might need tweaked or changed, but compromising of identity should always be our own free choice. It should never be influenced, not by the media, not by a politician, not by a passing cultural fad. Truth is timeless and is the path to freedom. We can discover what it is. And it is something very definite.

How far are you willing to go?

I once asked my uncle “would you die for your family?” There was no hesitation when he emphatically replied, “I would”.

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Love/Hate: A good depiction of great evil in Ireland only

love hate oldWhen I was sixteen years old I got a kicking outside a nightclub at two o’clock in the morning. It would not be the last time I would be faced with such a predicament but on this occasion it taught me a strong, harsh lesson not only about being a man, but about being a man in Ireland, which I’ve come to understand is a wholly unique perplexity. As everyone in Ireland knows except, as it appears, the police, the drinking laws in Ireland are rarely, if ever, enforced and so that night my sixteen year old self wandered the halls of this nightclub, pint in hand, seeking out the company of some charitable female who would put up with me for a few hours.

It happened then that I chanced upon one young woman standing by the side of the dance floor moving here and moving there. I made my move. Up I dandered and said “hello”. She turned away so I figured she was shy. Not to trouble her much more, I turned to leave when I felt, to my surprise, a hard kick to the back and it wasn’t a new dance move either. I turned to spot a bulky fella with a cigarette dangling from his mouth staring through me, gorilla stanch and all. As it turned out he had developed himself a wee thing for the same wee girl I’d just wasted my “hello” on and he wasn’t impressed. Behind him stood a row of more empty looking fellas with more cigarettes dangling and more gorilla stances and very serious expressions indeed. They meant business it seemed but then, as I was to experience, those were fierce expressions not uncommon to the hallowed halls of Irish nightclub establishments. I just got better at avoiding them or confronting them I suppose.

Anyway, on this occasion I turned away and walked off. Still, as it turned out, a note had been made of my face and afterwards, outside the nightclub, as my futile search for female company continued, the same fellas from inside caught up with me and decided to initiate a game of football using my head as the ball. I consider myself young at that time and therefore inexperienced in peace negotiations with people who appeared to care little for my life or death so I remained with head in arms and waited out the punishment for my crime. Eventually I was prevented from dying by an older Good Samaritan who intervened because he couldn’t “stand seeing young fellas be treated like that”, so he said.

Now, as I said, I learned some invaluable lessons that night and two, in particular spring to mind. First, I learned never to lie down again, and I never did. Second, and the most profound, as I lay having several men attempt to remove my head from my shoulders with their feet, I realized then I was looking squarely into the faces of sincere evil. Consequently, it would be that stone cold stare emanating from their faces that I would encounter on many more occasions in many other settings.

Love/Hate is currently one of the most popular shows on Irish television. It is a fictional depiction of the lives of several characters operating within the criminal underworld of Dublin City. It is one of the most violent and emotionally disturbing programs ever created in Ireland and to me it is an excellent presentation of what true evil looks like. If you are under the impression that evil looks like what we see in “The Exorcist” or some other horror movie with spinning heads, deep raspy voices and red eyes, then you need to reevaluate your concept. Evil is much more subtle and the genius of evil is that it is less obvious, very crafty and often imperceptible to human minds which consider behavior a mere personal human choice.

In episode two of season 5 of Love/Hate there is a funeral scene where a priest reads a homily for a man who had been, without remorse, suffocated, forced into a suitcase and dumped in a canal. In the homily he reads scripture from Romans 3:13:

“Their throats are open graves;

Their tongues practice deceit.

The poison of vipers is on their lips.

Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Ruin and misery mark their ways,

And the way of peace they do not know.

There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

These are strong words, with a power I have rarely heard at a real Catholic mass but they are words that highlighted perfectly the nature adopted by those being portrayed by the show.

So what is this evil I refer to? The greatest evil of all, is when we look at another person and, in our eyes, we make them less human. We dehumanize. In almost every act portrayed by the characters of this show, dehumanization is the evil vehicle adopted to justify the most animal acts. Think of this and take time with this statement: if the devil hates humans, and he cannot physically distort our humanity, then the next best thing he can achieve is to distort and reduce the vision of our humanity held by other people.

When a person looks at another and considers them less than human they can then justify all forms of actions upon that person. They can murder or tear them apart in as many ways as their imagination allows. They can commit adultery against them ignoring the deep hurt that could be suffered by the other. They can reduce women to objects that gratify only their sexual demands, never considering that the person they objectify has a family, that they love and they have goodness and worth. To these people, friends exist only to keep them company, while the friend’s good is secondary and maybe irrelevant. Wives and children exist to satisfy a craving for familial life, a shadow of holiness to be returned to after gratification is received in other ways like drink, drugs, or sex.

Figures of authority become barriers to a freedom to satisfy every emotional whim as the person strives for wealth, power or physiological sensation. They must be either destroyed, or tolerated with disdain. Those who no longer provide some form of comfort or use are tossed aside or ignored.

Every evil act, and every sinful act for that matter, involves us making someone less human in our minds. The robbed is less human to the thief. The woman is less human to the pornographer. The child is less human to the abortionist. The talked about are less human to the gossipmongers. An employee is less human to the boss who treats them badly. The drug user is less human to the drug pusher. People are judged not by their human goodness and worth but by their function to you and their use to society. This is evil.

All the above evils and many more are displayed in full glory in Love/Hate. Yet for some reason it is a show, which attracts. We are drawn in by it mysteriously. Young men are attracted by the toughness and seeming impenetrable personas of what is presented as masculine. Young women are offered a vision of the woman who seeks out and can’t resist that pseudo power. It is all cleverly packaged material. We wonder how closely it resembles reality.

ward oldAnd that, my friends, is the point. It resembles evil and it resembles what humans are capable off. It resembles what we could become. It resembles the attraction we feel to evil and sin and how that attraction can catch hold of us, twist us and ultimately destroy us. There are men in our world who are so far gone no words can turn them back. This show exposes absolutely why we should, with all effort we can muster, reject this lifestyle being proposed and why we must return to the only salvation we have, the beautiful virtue of Catholic Truth. What is offered by our faith, which has been a rock in Ireland for centuries, is the only remedy to ensure we do not degenerate further into the cesspool on display in Love/Hate. It brings no joy, no satisfaction, no happiness. It offers only ruin. There is no middle ground in the battle for souls.

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Wisdom from the building site: A man for the future

Irish buildersIn my last article, “Modern political betrayal: All smiles and handshakes” I outlined how vitally important it is to understand what a good society looks like, before we are able to decide upon a political direction to move in, toward that good or ideal. We have so many politicians and leaders out there who throw out every year these grand ideas and policies designed to impress us with all the work they are doing. It is like they are baking a cake and throwing all sorts of mad ingredients in, hoping that the result will be a fine tasting cake. They do this however, without knowing first what a good and ideal cake should look and taste like first. These men sell us what society could be rather than showing us what society should be. As a result we never end up with a good and ideal society, but rather we have to settle for something much less acceptable and much less beneficial.

Today I would like to describe to you the type of man we should be looking for as a true leader, a man who knows a good and ideal society before he starts adding ingredients and selling us manifestos. These men seek to show us how great society should be, not how great they are. These are the men for whom smiles and handshakes mean nothing and for whom the only acceptable compromise is one that helps the people and society reach their potential greatness.

Some of the most valuable experiences I have had in my life where served on building sites throughout the lands with foremen good and bad and jobs dirty or clean. I have difficult memories of those times, for the work was hard and the expectations tough for a young man used to the comfort of the living room. I also heard much conversation that would unlikely have impressed my mother. Still, the experience I gained became invaluable. From the characters who laboured around me, I learned much about men, about being Irish and about being human.

It was fascinating for me to watch the interactions between younger apprenticed hands and older hardened heads as they exchanged, elaborated and embellished tales of weekend behaviors and encounters involving mostly fighting, drinking and women. I heard stories of past present and future, kinship, friendship and workmanship. It was not all bad but despite all this banter there was one interaction in particular that intrigued me the most. It often took the younger lads by surprise at first that no matter how much messing around might have gone on and how lightly the older heads appeared to take life, they still talked about and went about their work with the utmost seriousness and respect.

These men would be joking in one second and the next they would be focused intently on the job at hand. It came as a sudden change of character and it took me off guard when I first noticed. In time, I developed a strong admiration for those men because of their superior practical knowledge and their devotion to achievement in their area of expertise whether that was electrician, joinery, plastering or brick laying. Their trade was their pride, their life and their mission in those moments.

Now these men where not perfect men. They had many deficiencies, irregularities and vulgarities and they tended to harbour deep intolerances for defects or differences in the personalities of others. Also, even though they held themselves as men of knowledge and wisdom, it was more often the case that their scope of insight was fairly limited, though not always of course.

I remember once, three of four men, standing around staring for hours at a freshly dug hole in the ground having a smoke, scratching their heads and other parts, reciting the inevitable “boys o it’s tara” conversation filler every couple of minutes and discussing the weather occasionally. A pipe had burst, and though they knew they must move forward they were at a loss on how to proceed. They could hear the water running but no source could be found. After a while and a few more smokes they lifted the phone and called in another man. Now, this man was different in many ways. He appeared after fifteen minutes, took one or two looks and described very purposefully exactly what was wrong, how things should be and what they needed to do to move forward. After that, work started up again and the job was completed. That, my friends, is the way of the world. There is always someone else out there who sees the bigger picture. These are men gifted with vision and so can be aptly called visionary. They will know how things should be and they will outline them so the practical man can get them done. We must accept that we do not know everything, even though we may think we do.

This, then, is how I see modern day Ireland. Everywhere on television and at every major event in our community we see these practical politicians who can’t wait to think up and tell us what practical policy they are going to implement next to make life better. Apparently they think they know it all. Where oh where are our great leaders? Those men who envision a good and ideal society and who our practical men can follow to give us what we need?

Ireland is still running on the old “United Ireland” steam. While this issue remains important for so many it is not primarily what we need. It is no longer the most pressing threat to our freedom. It is not what continues to keep us enslaved. Today we must look to education for our children. Our system is failing them. We must look to economic prosperity. Our system is failing us.

When a politician thinks the answer to the education and economic crisis is to increase taxation and give the government more power to regulate, he is not a visionary working for the good of the people, he is a practical man who has run out of ideas. When a politician thinks abortion (the killing of our next generation) is good for women while ignoring all the evidence to the contrary he is not a visionary working for the good of the people, he is a practical man who has run out of ideas. When a politician thinks gay marriage is good for society despite all the evidence to the contrary, once again, he is not a visionary working for the good of the people. These are practical men who have run out of ideas, or worse, men working for their own good and not our good. These men all claim these policies are the way to go but they ignore the clear evidence that plainly show these actions are disastrous for families and individuals. Our politicians join the European Union looking to other practical men for answers and all they seem to get are more problems while they sell our liberty and the very soul of Ireland.

I am here to tell you – visionaries exist. They are in Ireland today. I am convinced they are there. Unfortunately, our political system is designed to suffocate their voice. The stranglehold that the same old faces and same old parties have on our media and the flow of information prevents these young minds from emerging. The current policies cause so much economic hardship, many young people are forced to emigrate for better opportunities. Internal party politics typically prevent young people gaining positions of influence as the old dogs greedily hold on to their positions of power and prestige. At no time have we needed more these young leaders than today, to use all resources available to them to get their message to the people.

Their message is that we need to build, or go back to an Ireland built on goodness, virtue and Truth. We must look to our strength in community, camaraderie and faith rather than looking to the worldliness of European governments or further, for it does not suit our culture. These young people must impel us forward and viciously resist all forces that present barriers to the freedom and peace of our people. It is no longer men with guns and balaclavas who threaten our peace but men with smiles, handshakes and practical quick fix policies; men who would sell their own souls for power, wealth or prestige. These men want us to believe they are our leaders but they have become stale. Their vision brought us to this point but they have no vision to bring us to the next step. They need to step aside but, selfishly, they refuse.

We need new blood, men with vision who know what a good society should look like, men who care nothing for power, wealth or prestige but only for the good of their people. That is a man worth following, a man who would give his life for us and a man whose vision we would give our lives for.

Let us pray for good Irish leaders.

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Modern Political Betrayal: All smiles and handshakes

graveyardOver a decade ago, after attending in Killarney, County Kerry, one of the most enjoyable weekend festivals, I’d say, I have ever experienced, I was making my way home in a car with a friend who happened to be prone to spontaneous and typically mad notions. This was one of those occasions he decided to have a typically mad notion and so, despite the concert being concluded, he declared he wanted to prolong our sense of satisfaction by taking a detour through Co. Mayo. And so it was, as we trudged along in his little red 1990s Ford Focus he announced his intention by stating “we’ll head this way” and instead of turning right, he turned left.

Predictably, I enquired “What? What are you on about?”

He repeated, “We’ll head up this way, see what happens.”

“Are ye wise?” says I.

“Sure why not, it’ll be a bit of craic” says he.

“Where’re ye going anyway, what about heading this way” says I.

“Ach sure we’ll know when we get there” says he.

“Fair enough” says I and off we went, on his compass, somewhere into the middle of “God knows where”. On the way, every now and then, I’d repeat my earlier enquiry “Do ye know where you’re for yet?”

“Ach sure we’ll know when we get there” says he.

“Fair enough” says I and this went on until get there we did and there turned out to be a wee pub in Ballyhaunis where we had ourselves a couple of pints of Guinness and a “feed of chips”. And sure what would be wrong with it says I?

Nothing at all, I suppose, except for the point I’m about to attempt here today.

Ireland, like most of the world, suffers from a unique form of multiple personality disorder. We vote in our politicians years after years to represent us for a variety of reasons and each set of politicians comes together with a nice, neat and well packaged manifesto to let us know their vision for the future and how they are the boys to get us there. You’ll get a knock on the door with a big smile and a handshake and if you turn the television on, at all, those same faces are there, smiles in hands and hands in hands, as they tell us the best way to fix our country.

Now this would be all well and good if one element of the equation was not missing. What is missing? Well, what is missing is the actual ‘fixing’ of the country. The country never actually gets fixed. Yes, we can change our mind and vote in the next man or next party but no matter how many years we vote in or revote in the same faces and the same parties we never end up anywhere significant. The people see this, I see this, the whole country sees this but yet we continue to choose the same people with the same tired boring rhetoric. These men all tell us what they want to change but they don’t seem to know what the country should look like if it were to become a good place to live. Here is one example of how ridiculous the whole thing is:

Taxes in Ireland have rocketed out of orbit. Not only are those few people with a job taxed to poverty but also we are taxed for fuel, cigarettes, property, cars, soon to be water, and plastic bags. More and more money comes out of our pockets while politicians vote themselves pay raises frequently and without apology or even guilt, I surmise. Now of course some might argue these taxes are necessary for good things to be provided. However, we are sure to find most people agree that the state of education and healthcare is not improving to any serious degree, our young people are still emigrating to find jobs and the welfare state is growing while less people are working to support it. These are only some of the small issues we can all agree are bad things. It is enough to drive you to drink but, of course, we can do little of that because the drink is taxed to the roof as well.

Why do things not get better? What is wrong with the situation that prevents us from initiating the action that could set our lives back on the course to good? Do things have to become so bad before we rebel? We moved to kick the British off our soil on multiple occasions, yet we allow our politicians to remain in positions of power that, in turn, appear to keep us in positions of economic slavery.

So you see, it is just like my friend in the car on the way to “God knows where”. Our politicians give us nice big promises with smiles and handshakes and we are supposed to accept that their plan is the way to a better place. However, we have no agreement about what a better place looks like.

The whole point of this article is to argue that we first need to agree on what an ideal country looks like. If we do not know what a good or right society looks like, then how can we possibly head toward it and how can our politicians possibly know the direction to it? It is simple. We need to know what a right, good society is before we make our journey towards something, and end up instead in another pub, drinking another pint of Guinness and eating another plate of chips. It might be very cozy in that pub, but it is not the place we should be and it certainly is not the place we want to be.

When the Black and Tans were rampaging our land, terrorizing and killing our men, women and children we knew something was very wrong. We wanted to just be left alone in peace to be free and grow our families as we seen fit. Maybe today we are being terrorized in a very different way? By men who smile and shake your hand and say everything will be okay down the road, but when we ask them what place we are going to, their thought is “Ach sure we’ll know when we get there”. Maybe it is time these men and their parties and their big government ideas left us in peace and freedom to grow our families as we see fit? Sure isn’t that the real strength of Ireland?

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