From All The President’s Men. I feel like these words are truer than ever this week. I don’t think humans are designed for so much news, and news of such intensity, in such a short time. I don’t know where this is going, and I am 100% certain it will be a bumpy ride, but I think I need to dig out my copy of All The President’s Men this weekend.
The decision to relocate a national maternity hospital to another, more medically appropriate site, seems logical and positive. Until you realise just what this will involve. The state is, in effect, giving a €300 million asset to a private organisation that’s loyal to another state and has proven itself to be completely and utterly amoral, to have failed women and children, to have manipulated the needy through indoctrination and has managed to convince generations of people that if it wasn’t for it, we somehow wouldn’t have all the normal services of most western democracies.
This is supposed to be a national maternity hospital. If we’re allowing this decision to move towards completion, we are getting a national maternity hospital in name only. I don’t believe any promises made by any religious order or Minister any more, because the best way to predict what will happen in the future is to look at the past. And in the past, both religious orders and Ministers have lied, or told mistruths, or have used whatever weasel words they need to for social or political expediency.
Religious bodies have used the state’s education system to convince generations upon generations that it is completely normal and positive for essential services to be controlled and delivered by, but not paid for, private foreign entities. We have given them billions. They have abused our people, they have stolen babies and enslaved women, they have indoctrinated children, they have covered up child rape, they have created trusts to hide and retain assets and they have shown us not one example of why they should be handed ever greater sums of state money.
It is not normal for a state to hand over millions to private foreign entities that have an appalling track record. It is not normal for us to be expected to accept this is normal. It is not normal for women who are supposed to be getting care in a national maternity hospital to have to ask about the religious limits that they might be subjected to.
A body which styles itself the Sisters of Charity should not and cannot be handed our national maternity hospital.
This is what I heard a grandmother say about young people today, and why they wouldn’t get up to dance at a social function. She said they’re too worried about what people think, which restricts what they can do.
This phrase has been ringing in my ears. They’re too worried about what people think.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they send their ‘fallen women’ into prisons.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t need to treat the children of these people with dignity and respect.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they let a church run the schools, hospitals and social services rather than shout stop.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t ask where the babies they’ve bought have come from.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they let their children be indoctrinated regardless of their own faith or right to privacy.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they let lies be told in public in the name of balance.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they’d don’t ask whether wanting to draw a line under another exposed atrocity is a bad thing.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t look too deeply into why children are playing with babies’ skulls.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t speak out about obstetric violence.
They’re too worried about what people think. So they don’t think, they just do.
I am also too worried about what people think. I am too worried about why parents will continue to indoctrinate their children. Why my peers have church weddings and baptise their children. Why we are allowing lies to take equal status alongside the truth. I am too worried that the 800 babies and children who died in Tuam died and were forgotten on purpose because They’re Still Too Worried About What People Think.
This is not a story about how much of a Nirvana fan I was. I came to their music late, long after they were at the peak of their success and long after they had stopped making music. When Nirvana were popular, however, I was a ten year old girl living a sheltered life. While my father was into music, our pop culture references were few and far between. His record player didn’t work, but his tape player in the car did and I had a steady diet of very old Hank Williams and the Elvis Sun Sessions. I still love hearing that music today. We had a very old TV that had a about six stations on a good day and I’d turn off BBC1 at 7pm on a Thursday because I didn’t want to hear the music. We had no VCR so if we didn’t see something that was that.
Now I have Netflix and Virgin Media TV channels galore. I have Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. I have news and entertainment on tap. I can see almost any news report or music video within seconds. Today I watched footage of the Berlin Wall coming down, with a chaser of Melissa McCarthy’s Spicy Act. I was inspired to write this post after watching a BBC4 documentary on 20 years of rock anthems. I can write this while streaming something else to entertain me. I have woken up at night in a panic and been able to grab my phone and see on Twitter that the UK had voted to leave the EU and that a reality TV star was on the brink of election.
Do I check these things obsessively because I’m telling myself I want to be informed about the state of the world? Or am I consuming these stories because they’re now as much part of being entertained as which movie star is having an affair and with whom? Am I now expecting life to have a series of entertainments, of which politics and current affairs form a part? Is the latest compelling press conference just something that’s offered to us because we’re here, and we expect to be entertained? Or are these just lyrics from a song that became a hit and meant that the hair bands had to rethink their sales pitch?
I have retreated to the Chalet School in recent weeks, partly out because I’ve managed to track down several difficult-to-find unabridged editions to replace my paperbacks and mainly for reasons of sanity, self-preservation and to quell the constant low level anxiety that’s been hiding at the pit of my stomach.
It’s oddly comforting to know that there’s a universe where I know they’ll make it through the chaos of the 1930s unscathed and filled with stiff upper lips and shoulders being put to the wheel to defeat a foe. It’s also nice to read that the school doesn’t believe in shielding the children and young adults in its care from bad news-we’re told they don’t want to raise jellyfish but strong and able women. There is, however, only so much bad news one can take each day and the Chalet girls weren’t living in a world with endless access to ceaseless media chatter.
Living in a world where openly mocking disability and using the coarsest of language to describe how you treat women doesn’t stop millions people voting for you and an electoral college rubber stamping your rise to public office is difficult, to say the least. Jolly difficult and frightfully unnerving. I can’t help but feel that the fines for slangs weren’t the worst idea.
Every year, on the 17th of March, the Taoiseach of Ireland participates in a slightly twee and bizarre ceremony, known as the shamrock ceremony. He (thus far, always a he) presents the President of the United States of the day with shamrock in a crystal bowl and there’s a photo op and sundry other Irishy things happen around various parts of Washington DC, the USA and the world. We’re always told it’s great for Irish-international relations and trade, that it is a type of access that’s utterly unique and aren’t we fierce lucky that we have this type of thing to draw attention to ourselves every year.
I don’t think it should be done this year. I don’t think I want the leader of our country participating in this type of event given the current circumstances, where facts can be dismissed and lies presented as alternative facts. I don’t think we should pretend this is another opportunity to go about business as usual and I don’t think I’m alone in wanting our Taoiseach to skip it this year.
Enda, this year, please stop the shamrock. We’re better than this. And we really should show that we are and we will be.
In 2004, George W. Bush was elected on my birthday, November 2nd.
In 2012, my husband and I marched in protest for the first time ever on November 17th following the death of Savita Halappanavar.
In 2015, in November we went to view the house that we would buy and in which we made our first home that was just ours together.
Today, it’s another cold November day and I’m thinking of myself and the other November days that have brought me happiness and that made me cry. I wish I could be a little less selfish but today I’m allowing myself to indulge in a lot of ‘what might have been’.