Time to look at the bigger picture


Time to look at the bigger picture
While 2010 is being welcomed with open arms by most of us as an escape from the unrelenting gloom of 2009, it’s worth bearing in mind that we have certainly not had it worst over the past year or so.
We don’t need to look too far from our own shores to see how bad it could have been for this country. Only ECB membership saved us from the fate of Iceland, which has been thrown into complete turmoil by the failure of its banking system. The Icelandic people are being asked to pay back millions lost by external investors when their banks collapsed. At least we are paying only for our own mistakes. Not everyone participated, but that is the nature of a society and of a nation – we are all in this together, whether we caused it or not. Greece, meanwhile, has seen violent clashes and deaths following strikes over the economic crisis and Government policy.
Although we may have to deal with unaccustomed snow and ice in the wake of last month’s overwhelming flooding, and we are still in the grip of the recession, let’s not lose perspective; it’s time to look at the bigger picture.
Media coverage here of both the recession and the adverse weather conditions have tended to drown out the sounds of continuing conflict in places around the world.
However, this week we got a rude awakening with news that two people from Cork were trapped in Egypt after trying to bring a convoy of aid to Gaza via an Egyptian port.
Viva Palestina organises regular convoys of aid to Gaza, with the current one having left Cork on Saturday, 5 December. A number of activists from the Cork to Gaza group were with the convoy and took shelter in a mosque after allegedly coming under fire from Egyptian police. (See http://www.corkindependent.com for more on this).
While we wish those people the best with their mission and hope they return safely, it’s notable that this is the first coverage Palestine has been given in Ireland in recent months.
Taking the time to move beyond the Irish media shows us that, contrary to popular discourse here, we are not having it worse than everyone else.
Besides the better-known problems in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, all of which are seeing regular deaths, there are conflicts ongoing in Kashmir, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Colombia, Somalia and nearer, Chechnya.
While many people here are suffering money worries and worse, it’s worth remembering that this is a country in which you are unlikely to die as a result of conflict. While we may have problems, from adult literacy to operation waiting lists, we have, mostly, excellent schools and hospitals. We may be seeing a drop in quality of life – but we are dropping from the best place to live, to somewhere within the top 20. Time to look at the bigger picture – it’s not perfect, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.

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