I spent the weekend with the most wonderful group on women.
They were passionate, empathetic, warm women who were trying to make a difference – a positive difference – to the lives of others in Ireland. I left their company buoyant with optimism and hope for good things to come in this country.
With the exception of one, they were all mothers. Women with responsibilities and commitments – to their children, their parents, their partners, their communities and crucially, their bank managers. It was the one dampener of an inspiring weekend:
“What are your plans for this wonderful work? Will you do it full time?”
What sat uneasily with me was the underlying acknowledgement for most that it’s simply not possible in Ireland right now for people – for parents – to pursue their passions, their wants, their dreams. I’m not talking desert island stuff here. People can’t change their careers or set their lives on a different path. So many of us are stuck with decisions we made five years, maybe a decade, ago at this stage because we’re pinned by financial commitments.
There is no room for flourishing in Irish life these days. It’s head down, get the money in, get the bills paid, keep your children fed, warm and loved. A noble pursuit without doubt. But where’s the room for growth, creativity, personal satisfaction, meaning?
The kites aren’t flying so high this year as we enter the pre-budget process because there’s an impeccably timed referendum blocking our way and inhibiting all discussion. The regulars are still making an appearance howeer – social welfare, health, child benefit…
Could I take this moment to point out to the powers-that-be that in last year’s budget single people in employment living in rental accommodation with no children more or less emerged from Budget 2013 unscathed?
The families of Ireland have given enough. Give us something back. Like a hint of a glimmer of hope that maybe we might see a change on the horizon. That maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a chance to change something and to make life decisions that aren’t purely financially based.
So many people want to do something wonderful – either for other people or for themselves. When will we get to refocus our attention on quality of life and enriching society rather than our myopic fixation on the State coffers and the dust in our pockets?
Our own lives and the lives of our children desperately need our providers to feel like it’s all worth something. People are jaded and disenfranchised. To paraphrase the Great Bard, something is rotten in the State of Ireland. The question is who of our politicians has the courage and the long view to see what is happening and do something about it?