Hippies are Heroes
I was chatting to the lads in the tents down the South Mall last week.
One lad rang, St John Ó Donnabháin asked me to go in, meet, look about, have a chat. “How will I know you St John,” says I. “I have a long red beard and long red hair,” says he. (He forgot to tell me of the bright, sparkling, so alive eyes and the huge smile that so welcomed me). “I have a grey ponytail and I’m in a wheelchair,” says I, “we will never find each other, you wear a yellow button hole and I will wear a red one”.
St John, of Occupy Cork, showed his only flaw early on when he told me he was a Kilkenny man! They were from all over Ireland, in the cold, in tents. Debating! Subject: How do we improve the way we live, earn, save, spend our national economy.
Not just our money, but our complete economy, our real human wealth. How we run the country. Not a small topic. But these are not small minded people; they act. They look slightly un-kempt, but one lad was sweeping the park, another was cooking hot soup, another was sitting eating it. A beautiful young woman wrapped in a blanket, could be clubbing, wasn’t. A tall lad picked up his guitar, gave it a lash!
They are the victims of greed, they were all smiling, and they are a generation who has been betrayed. My generation was the richest in the history of this state. We blew it. That is our right, it was our time. What we did not have the right to do, was to mortgage the future of this generation. We were on watch.
As we partied, the barbarians came in the open gates. In pin stripped suits they entered the pin, and electronically transferred not our money, but the money of this generation and the next; wrecked havoc. We were still on the piss when they left, the party went on. Those guarding the economy were at the best parties and when the robbery was discovered we gave them huge retirement packages and sent then off.
Down on the Mall in the Occupy Cork soup kitchen I heard intelligent people debating where to go now. To my absolute astonishment and to my great joy, I heard not one word of revenge. There was a dignity in those tents that stunned me. The only angry words were mine. There was joy; there was a sense of a regrowth of community. A sense that having a solution to this impossible economic crisis was not the point, but having the open debate on where we go from here, the point. In an open space, where all will get their say. For three days before I arrived it had lashed rain
They built a symbolic Mongolian yurt to sit in and talk. “How long will you stay?” I asked. “As long as it takes,” they answered without bravado, but with fierce quiet determination.
There was a gap in the space. I did not see one of us, my generation, sitting in the cold drinking potato soup. WE screwed this up, no point in denying it, by saying we did not know. We were being told and those who told us we were partying too hard, were told to commit suicide!
We lost a sense of real community in our pretence of real wealth. I was in Fitzgerald’s Park on Sunday. I met a young old friend, with her husband and her three babies. Susan said when the first was born, now five, the child got money for her christening presents, her third, ten weeks ago, got saving boxes.
Jill, my daughter, was there as were my four grandchildren. It was gratifying to hear these two mothers of young children speak with hope of a regrowth of community out of this mess. If my grandchildren grow up in a better Ireland, one not dependant on greed to motivate, it will be because of lads like St John who sat in the cold.
Will Simon Coveney, Kathleen Lynch, Micky Martin, John O’Brien break out the sleeping bags spend a week under canvass in solidarity?
Corporate greed = mental illness; I saw that sign on the Occupy Galway march. I am inclined to agree. Both are evil and lead to so many people being hurt. Both are invented ideologies, created by greed. Both are based on a complicating of simple language. Madness is a part of humanity as old as life. So is greed.
'Mental illness' has taken madness to a new level of the corruption by a section of our society, the medical model; the victims: the community. Corporate greed has taken human greed to a new level of corruption by financial institutions; the victims: the community.
A possible solution to both, an expanding debate on human economy. Local being global. We are all in danger of being swamped by the markets.The markets are nothing more then educated gamblers who cheat. Have we sold democracy to the markets and are bond holders more powerful than our politicians?
One thing is sure. The financial stress I collapsed under in the eighties/ nineties is rampant again. As black as this despair appears to you now, this too will pass. We can all come out of this, we always do. If we do, it will be in no small measure due to the courage of St John and the others huddled in a tent in the cold, simply but eloquently saying ENOUGH!
Does greed equal success and does success equal greed? I so hope not. I have met many successful rich people in my life who were never greedy. It is easy to agree that we should have a minimum standard of living for everybody, i.e. heath, education, housing, income whatever. But how do you decide on the maximum standard of living?