I am happy and proud to report that the number of people calling themselves religious in Ireland has dropped. In the census of the population, taken around the country in 2011, 56,588 people ticked “other” when asked what faith they attached themselves to. We are swollen. Excellently, 4,690 babies were given the privilege of having “no religion” as their religious status. Obviously the whole notion of babies having any religious faith being ridiculous has not been pointed out too often, but I am glad there are some parents abstaining from Catholic guilt/paranoia.
The catholic congregation has been bloodily engorged to 3.86 million, but percentage-wise there are now fewer holy book bashers around these days. The figure I believe was greatly increased by the decision to open the doors to Poland a few years back. Could this have been a deal brokered between Polish pope JP and the EU a few years back? It wouldn’t be the first time politics and religions have fornicated to save each other. We needed cheap labour, the young Polish wanted adventure, and the church needed more people in mass. I smell fish.
Anyway I for one am glad this hasn’t led to the locals deciding “if you can’t beat them join them”. One thing I am glad of is to have inherited our national talent for spotting a lie. Why is this? Why, because you can’t bullshit a bullshitter! We gave the world Joyce and Yeats and Wilde and Heaney and Doyle, great writers and poets, but also great corrupt politicians like Haughey and Ahern, self righteous egomaniacs like Bono & Robinson, and outspoken actors like Farrell & Byrne. I am now taking up the baton, probably wedged somewhere in-between, after pints with Richard Harris & Eamon Dunphy. Welcome.
So this built-in trait, however developed, has allowed us (sometimes, not always) to note people bending the truth before our eyes, and make a good call. This may explain why a poll made last week revealed that if we as a nation could vote in the upcoming US election, Mitt Romney would only get 5% of the vote. And this is with a 3 percent error margin. So potentially he could’ve scored 8%, or better, just 2%.
Obama scored 79%, 76% or 82%, depending on how you read the results. And 19%(or 16%,or 22%) were as yet undecided . For whatever reason, be it lack of education, memory loss or brain damage, half of polled America wants to elect Mitt Romney to be President of the most discussed nation in the world. We Irish, who love talking and griping about other countries, have been following this thing like we did Ross & Rachel. Maybe “Bennifer”, Britney & Bush were more interesting, but well, this is current. And we can distract ourselves a bit from all these all devouring bailouts and troikas.
As a nation once pretty much governed from Rome we understand the US obsession with religion and its intricate brainwashing abilities. We get the whole “better tie ourselves to this mast so we can ride out the storm” religious affinity the politicians go through each time they go for election. No matter if the ship is sinking.
We have only now begun to ape the growing intelligence shown by our American brothers by sensibly ticking the non-religious box in the census. We rejoice in having given you Kennedy. We even tried to claim a little bit of Obama. One of our own journalists once questioned George like a buddy, a heinous act denounced by the big house in Washington D.C. We don’t want to say it, but we are, like, totally, long distance cousins.
In Ireland one must be quick. Our politicians are slippery bastards, working out dodgy severance packages when found guilty of corruption, or in the case of our Taoiseach, making it onto the cover of Time magazine. The reaction to this so far has been ridicule by all and sundry, bar his political party. We know we’re not out of the woods yet, and by Jesus do we know propaganda when we see it.
Or do we? I look around and see a lot of collective apathy to any news about politics. People respond here a lot like in America. Without much investigation, sound bites are released, like farts in elevators, for all of us to inhale. We spend time discussing and opining Popular TV or objects of desire, electronics become extensions of human bodies, and fake everything is sprayed on and pumped in. How did that happen?
I worry the US denial plague has spread out of control. We refuse to take to the streets, we sit dishevelled yet connected by our disconnection. Our ladies can’t abort, our men cannot dance. I cannot dance. We have developed American lilts to go with it all, “awesome” and abbreviations now commonly heard in our East Atlantic brogue.
As a nation we have a pretty good thing going. But, just like most developed countries, our sense of entitlement has grown with our greatly exaggerated wealth generating capabilities. Now we are experiencing a crisis of said generating capabilities, and we have lost our reason. We live with Apple, Sony & Mercedes. We are surrounded by bricks and double glazing. Our sense of reality is distorted.
A lot like our pals across the water. I wait for the last debate, to hear how we will all be treated for the next 4 years. I wonder how they will justify the foreign policies that kill and maim so many each year. I wonder how I keep the faith, listening to all of it and yet retaining the hope of change. I naively embrace the possibility, powered on by random internet users and idealism.
I look for some leadership, at least some move away from all this war and rage and harm. The US is our big daddy, and we await instructions. I don’t like to admit it, but let’s be upfront and congruent. Let’s make friends. Let’s help each other. Let’s not expect too much or too little. Let’s not take it all too seriously. Let’s develop. Let’s party.