On Peaceful Protests and Having Respect.....
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
It was quite disconcerting answering the door just before lunchtime on a midweek day. I thought I had figured it out you see. The optimum time to play 'Avoid The Cold Caller' and not answer the door under any circumstances, is just about dinner time. Preferably just when you're about to lift up the dinner, or just when the cheese on that pizza is almost bubbling away to perfection. That's when you hear the dulcet tones of your ringing door-bell. It's not usually at lunchtime, unless it's a Saturday.
Saturday is usually 'Jehovah's Witness' day, so therefore I was so surprised to open the door at lunchtime this Tuesday to see two women holding Bibles. With one lady standing on the step, almost in my face, and both waving leaflets they were quite intent on ensuring I take. I declined. Politely.
But like the sucker I usually am when I don't follow my own 'Avoid The Cold Caller' rules, I had to listen to them for a while - it's a fact that cold callers are cold to any attempts you make to get them to understand that (a) you don't have the time, (b) the dinner is burning or (c) the cat is about to eat the goldfish. They insist on having their say anyway. It is very annoying.
However the ladies today raised a couple of questions I'd been wondering about recently. The main ones being: What is wrong with our world? and: Can we make it better?
Now I'm sure they were making a more global reference which perhaps pertained more to Syria, Iraq and the Israel/Palestinian conflict etc.
Although these issues do of course concern me my recent thoughts were more closer to home.
In particular: What is happening to our little corner of the world?
While I am absolutely delighted that finally, after years of recession and austerity measures being continually flung at us by our 'partners' in Europe (The Troika) - all of whom dress exceedingly well and look like they've no worry about where their next meal is coming from, Ireland's citizens have finally found one issue to stand up and be counted on. That issue being 'Water Charges'. Now, if you're reading this from another country and are thinking 'but we pay water charges, why doesn't Ireland?' please know that these Water Charges are the proverbial straw that broke the backs of the Irish people. This protest is about far more than Water Charges. Did you know that Ireland has paid 42% of the total cost of the European bank crisis? That's despite the fact that we only make up about 0.09% of the EU population and our economy only makes up 1.2% of EU GDP.
Sure no wonder we're angry.
No wonder we're - finally - protesting.
However, based on accounts of some recent protests I do wish we could take the bitter anger out of our protestations and think long and hard about how best to get our point across.
I thought that the original and recent street protest marches were outstanding and peaceful.
It's the 'pop-up' ones that I abhor. The one at Coolock which subsequently moved to Coolock Garda Station and sounded terrifying.
Then there's the more recent ones in Santry, Sligo and Tallaght where protesters have taken to surrounding Government Minister's cars. While I appreciate that this is a prime opportunity for protesters to make their very valid points I do not think it appropriate to surround a Minister's car for two-and-a-half hours.
I don't think it appropriate to hold anyone, be they Irish Water Meter Installers or Government Ministers, hostage in their cars or vans for hours with no access to food, water or toilets. What if someone became ill, had a panic attack or was hit by a flying missile?
And while I thought the surrounding of the Garda Station (these are Government employees with families at home) was appalling I also think that the reported incidents, if true, of how our Gardaí are dealing with the protesters are completely unacceptable.
Seriously, did that beefy Garda really have to lift up this small young woman only to discard her by flinging her aside , like a finished coffee cup, to the side of the road; where she could be clearly heard banging her head off a metal bollard? Could he not have just put her on the foot-path?
I do not agree with a lot that comes out of our 'great leader' Enda Kenny's mouth but I do agree with his assertion that there is a 'sinister element' to these protests. I had said something similar myself earlier on. In my experience there is usually a cohort of people who will join your Dáil protest, shouting slogans in 'support'. But they have their own agenda and can seem quite intimidating. And of course then there are the people who are just gagging for a fight....any fight.
The result of these out-of -hand protests is that beefed up security measures will now be in place..... with the taxpayer footing the bill. And while the Gardai are busy minding our Government Ministers and the Irish Water Meter Installers who is going to mind the public?
It seems to me that we, the public, need to re-iterate the need for peaceful protests and disassociate ourselves from the 'sinister elements'. And our Gardaí seriously need to review how they treat members of the public who are protesting.
Maybe my bible thumping callers were right and the answers to 'What is wrong in the world and how to fix it' is in the bible.
Or maybe the answers lie within ourselves and how we treat and have respect for one another.