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Feb 20

What's wrong with us?

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 in Philosophy, Rantings, Something to think about

I had a bloody interesting conversation with a litter warden a few days ago.  It was the sort of conversation that left me thinking, the sort of conversation that could even be excellent thesis material.  It went something like this:

-Why is it that we Irish insist on emptying our ashtrays out of our car windows, even though we’re proud of our country?

-Why is it that we keep smoking even through the drastic price hikes and the knowledge that it’s killing us?

-Why do we keep speeding on our roads when we know we’re putting ourselves and others in grave danger?

-Why do we have appalling statistics for underage drinking?

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because we Irish are born rebels.  Rebellion still flows through our veins; we have, after all, only been independant for just over two generations.  It’s a latent feeling that we don’t deserve to be spoken down to, to be ruled by anyone other than ourselves.  We want to be our own boss and have ample intelligence to know what is or is not good for us.

Moreover, I bet if somebody was to analyse statistics, they might find similar trends in other historically supressed countries.

The people holding the purse are worried and embarrased.  They want to stop us from killing ourselves and prepetuating our bad reputation, but they are unfortunately going about it the wrong way entirely.

We are sick and tired of people in authority wagging their chubby fingers at us and shouting ‘NO, NO, NO!’  Price hikes aren’t working.  Restrictions aren’t working either.  Fines are possibly the worst way to solve this problem… they just fatten the hate and disrespect.

You know what the government should be doing?  They should be re-inforcing the original Irish pride, yes, the stuff they named the sliced pan after!  For example, the litter warden I was talking to doesn’t hand out fines to litter offenders.  She goes to the source.  She encourages school kids to take part in recycling programmes, gets them to pick up the rubbish on the streets left there by their ignorant elders.  They see the fruits of their hard work and they are proud kids.  She is respectfully teaching them instead of punishing them.  It’s so simple.

Wouldn’t it be radical for bill board posters to say something like…

‘Go ahead and speed if you want to, but you’re killing your own people.  Your ancestors fought for their freedom, so why undo their hard work?’


‘Congratulations, thanks to you and your fellow Irish people, Ireland could have the lowest rate of alcohol related deaths in the world!’

Instead of supressing our kids, we should be encouraging them!  Don’t tell them they’re stupid for drinking, tell them that they are the much-needed brains of our future.  Ask them with respect to preserve those brains, and listen to their needs for alternative entertainment during their wilderness years.  Respect goes a lot further than bullying, but I’m afraid bullying is the only tactic being used these days.  Our government seems to have lost faith in us, in our ability to take care of ourselves.

We Irish need to learn how to respect ourselves, to re-kindle the pride.  We should stop whingeing about the government and infecting our young’uns with hatred, and take matters into our own hands for we are indeed big and ugly enough. 


Coincidentally, I’m listening to ‘Warning’ by Incubus at the moment.  Brandon Boyd just sang these words to me:

“I suggest we learn to love ourselves before it’s made illegal”

Bring on the comments

  1. Granny says:

    Good girl yourself. You never spoke a truer word! Did you ever think of applying for the job as Taoiseach? I think there will be a vacancy soon.

  2. Yeah, I’d vote for you!

    Smokers are a funny lot (gross generalisation coming) in that I know many who are environmentally minded, and yet have this little blind spot about their own habit, chucking butts on the ground willy-nilly.

    There is also the attitude of “Sure it’s someone else’s problem”, there is that small but significant hurdle to be overcome of “Why should I bother me hole dealing with it” vs. “I’ll deal with it, it’s only a small job and it’ll only take a moment”. Lots of small jobs all work together to result in a huge over-all improvement. My personal peeve, dog poo in suburbia, I know plenty of people who pick up, so why can’t the rest of them.

  3. K8 says:

    Thanks ma!

    Thriftcriminal; I refuse to pick up my dog’s crap. He wouldn’t do it for me… I will however club it into a ditch or under a bush if it’s on a pathway. I shudder at the idea of carrying shite around in my pocket, especially in areas where bins are rare.
    I heard about a poo tree once… it was at the entrance to a beach. I presume people hung their dog poo bags on its branches to collect after their walk, but forgot about them. It was bizarre.

  4. Rural environment is fine, we never picked up after ours, but we lived in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t causing anyone else any bother. On the grass verge outside my house, or on my lawn, and I get narky. I don’t want my kids poking it or stepping in it. The footpaths around Churchtown where I work are paved with the stuff.

  5. K8 says:

    Yep, it’s an age-old gripe. You know what’s vomit inducing? As a small kid I knew about shite on pavements but I STILL ate second-hand chewing gum off them anway. No wonder I’m messed up.

  6. Shannon B says:

    “…but I’m afraid bullying is the only tactic being used these days.”

    Maybe the Irish learn by example, eh?

  7. Ralph. Huey. Bleurgh. Now my desk is all messy!

  8. englishmum says:

    I’d vote for you too. There’s a lovely boat road down to the lake here and people actually drive here on purpose to chuck out their rubbish. Bertie does poos the size of torpedos. The locals laughed at me for picking up poo when I first came here, being a towny and all. They pointed out that neither the farmers or the horse riders pick up after their animals so I was fighting a somewhat lost cause. No pavements here to upset Thrifty either, but I do pick it up when he does it in my garden in case the smalls discover it and spread the love.

  9. Much wisdom in your words. A closely related factor is that most of us have had varying levels of poverty in our backgrounds and we find it hard to control ourselves when let loose…children in sweet shop syndrome.

  10. Gaye says:

    K8, I just ranted at my place about dog poo on the streets before coming over and reading your gr8 post. Well said you! It makes sense about the rebellion against authority for years of being under the thumb and oppressed. I think it’s the right attitude to turn to young ones and instill responsibility in them in the way you describe.
    So when you be running for PM? I’d vote for you anyday!

  11. Medbh says:

    I ate chalk and dirt as a kid, so your second hand-gum isn’t any worse, K8. Helps build your immune system, right?

    Although I am a smoker I NEVER litter my butts.

  12. K8 says:

    Englishmum; Spread the love? (giggle) Such a shame about the illegal dumping on the lake. There is a company called ‘PURE’ who run a free waste pickup service. They work mainly in the Wicklow mountains, but you might find a similar company in your ‘hood that provides a similar service if it’s a huge problem?

    John; How right you are! We are somewhat spoiling ourselves… I fear for the future though- if todays kids are used to abundance, what will their attitudes be when they grow up?

    Gaye; Thanks! I tend to blush a lot during public speeches which would be a huge hindrance to my campaign… also I’m more of a sheep than a leader. Baaaa. I need a front person. Any offers?

    Medbh; That it does! Don’t know why Dublin City Council doesn’t just employ hundreds of toddlers to solve the chewing gum waste problem…
    This is an excellent invention for butt disposal problems.

  13. Baino says:

    So late in commenting this week. It’s bee frenetic. Good post K8 I have nothing to add but you’re right, positive reinforcement beats over regulation every time. If only our Government would realise that.

  14. Digital says:

    It would be great if you could get something like that expanded and published. I know a lot of people who would never have thought of it like that but who would probably have a lot to say about it after reading your post.

    Good stuff.

  15. Paul says:

    Nice one Kate, Litter is a communal effort, where it is commonplace, one more coke can wont seem to make a difference. Where places are clean, we may think twice before creating a precedent. It is a symptom of apathy induced by lack of identification with society. And how can we judge those who have been isolated by social division.We shed our littter like blood. Our blood and our tears are in the coke cans, the syringes, the roches.
    Yeats put it another way:
    “The purity of the unclouded moon has cast its arrowy shaft upon the floor
    there on blood saturated ground have stood, soldier, assassin, executioner, seven hundred years have past and it is pure and we who have shed none must gather here and clamour in drunken frenzy for the moon”
    In other words where we find litter will pick it up and dispose of it on behalf of those who cant

  16. Paul says:

    Oops, I mis quoted WB, here is what it should read
    “the purity of the unclouded moon has cast its arrowy shaft upon the floor
    seven centuries have passed and it is pure,
    there on blood splattered ground have stood,
    soldier, assassin, executioner
    whether in daily pittance
    or out of abstract hatred
    but could not cast a single jet thereon
    and we who have shed none, must gather there
    and clamour in drunken frenzy for the moon”
    Sorry WB!

  17. K8 says:

    Digital Darragh; I’m so sorry, I just noticed your comment for the first time today! I don’t know how you slipped past :) Thanks for visiting and leaving that comment, it makes my day to think that something like this could make a difference to the way people think. Even if I could expand on this though, the sad fact is that it wouldn’t be remembered for long I fear. Somehow negativity always floats back to the top… I may give it another go someday when I’m older and wiser!

    Paul! Thanks for commenting on my humble blog :) This WB quote is perfect, even if I did have to read it 15 times! I’m wishing for the courage to spread enthusiasm for this concept verbally instead of hiding behind this blog, though the skill seems to be developing faster since I met yourself and Corey!

  18. […] the GR8 is wondering what’s wrong with us. (actually has absolutely nothing at all to do with this post and it’s subject in any way […]

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