A View from the Grassroots

I’m a resilient-enough kind of a guy.  When things get a bit rough, I generally take it on the chin and move on as best I can, not un-scarred but not broken either.

But the last few weeks, a recurring thought in my head has been along the lines of, “if it’s effecting me this way, how on earth are the more vulnerable ones managing?”

I’m thinking about the constant bombardment of bad news stories which our country is experiencing these days.  Stories of economic doom.  Stories which have now left the homestead to play out in  glorious Technicolor on the international stage.

(Photo © ard hesselink)

As a country, Ireland has been mismanaged to such an extent that our debt is beyond the grasp of the populace.  The world looks on as this movie-wild-west-town we built for ourselves falls over to reveal the tumbleweed blowing behind.

It’s a tough time here in Ireland.

And, like I was saying, the unfaltering doom and gloom is even getting to me, someone who normally rides the waves of such things.  It’s not that I’m feeling especially weak or vulnerable, it’s just that the unremitting barrage of black news is hard to shrug off.

Can there be such thing as too much news? I sometimes wonder.  If our country was a business, would the bosses be running out of their offices every few minutes to tell the people manning the machines how much trouble they were in?  I don’t know the answer to this.  I know we’ve had our heads up our asses for the last decade and there will be a high price to pay for the misdeeds that were done while we were up there.  I guess we finally need to know the worst now, blow-by-blow.

I don’t know.

I know what I have to do, though.  I just need to keep reminding myself of it.

I need to play my own game, look out for my own house.  I need to keep fighting and working and seeing the good things and smelling the roses and staying strong and optimistic and productive.

I need to keep on truckin’.

I think we all do.  Whatever our circumstances.  If we have work to do, we have to get it done.  If we are unemployed (God knows, I know how that is) we need to keep ourselves mentally and physically fit for the day when we find work.  It’s not easy but it has to be done.

We have to be optimistic too.
We’re in a cycle, we’re always in a cycle and even the smartest people don’t seem to be able to appreciate the fact that there is a bottom when they are at the top.  The converse is also true; we’re at the bottom now but better times are coming.  The projections are dreadful because everything is largely worthless now but, as things improves, things gain value again and the projections improve.  It’s a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.  We have to ride it out for a while – not as long as they like to tell us but a while nonetheless.

The worst thing would be for all this doom to make us unwell.  It can happen, we have to defend against it.  Value life and health above all else, hold onto both, treasure them and go out into the world every day and enjoy them.
Today won’t ever come again, we have to find something that makes it special and good.

This pep talk was brought to you by me… for me.


Claire Boyles said...

Great to hear someone else bringing up this issue.

It's high time the whole media/news industry changed, I'm sick of listening to 80% negativity.

You know what, so what if things are worth less on paper?

There is so much valuable, rich resources in Ireland it's unbelievable, not least the people's ability to "keep on truckin".

Yes things need to be reported, but gosh do we really need to roll around in the muck & fling it around to as many people as possible?

Ireland is a rich country, maybe it's time to count our blessings. Maybe it's time for people to speak out about the great things that *are* happening in Ireland.

Ken Armstrong said...

Thanks Claire, certainly it will be a mistake if we, as individuals, let the constant hammering ruin our health.

Jim Murdoch said...

I think that both you and I are at an age now where we are starting to see patterns in our own lives, ups and downs, wrong turns and really wrong turns – you get the idea. When I was young my dad explained politics to me: “Jimmy, people vote governments out, not in.” And that really was the length and breadth of the discussion. I was left to mull over that statement for twenty-odd years before it started to make sense to me: no one has the answers. What happens is that we get fed up of one – at the moment that would be Labour in the UK – and vote in someone else and then, eight or ten years down the line we realise that all their replacement's election promises were just hot air (or if they did come through we paid in other ways) and so we vote in the other guys having forgotten what a god-awful mess they made when they were last in power proving true the platitude, the one thing we learn from history is that man learns nothing from history. There is little point in worrying about what we can’t control. At the same time we need to do our bit. So we control what we can which in most cases is only our own households.

And, yes, there is far too much news these days. There is far too much of everything. There are too many books to read, too many films to see, too many TV programmes to watch and far too much celebrity gossip to listen to. Information has become the white man’s burden. I watch the programme Click on the BBC News Channel every Saturday at 11:30. This week the show was cut short for some breaking news so I tuned in at 3:30 to catch what I’d missed and the whole show was cancelled for more breaking news. In the first instance a woman had been killed (which is a shame) and in the second the Mexican miners had been reached (which is nice) but are you seriously telling me that we couldn’t have waited ten minutes to hear those bits of news? I finally caught my show at 11:30 this morning. I guess it was a slow news day.

For a long time I never listened to the news or bought a paper. I still don’t buy papers. My reasoning was that anything that happened that I really needed to know about I’d get to know about. If the world ended I’d know about it before (or at least at the same time) as the BBC. I don’t cling to the fact that things will get better though. I have always been very good at cutting my cloth. The fact is people cope. At least I don’t have to cope alone. That’s always a plus.

Ken Armstrong said...

Jim: Thank you. I reckon I agree with you, accentuate the personal positives... and continue to cope.

seoirse mac enri said...

Hi Ken
we are in a bit of a state alright.Personally I think the media situation is tainted with a lot of political spin each side trying to score off the other and the media are just lapping it up egging them on when it can like the schoolyard fights in St John's all gathered round the combatants oi oi oi.I do hope your right about cycles but I feel the root of all our problems stem from mismanagement on all levels no one was willing to take responsibility at any stage even when things were good just throw money at it and hope it'll go away now it's too late the tiger's extinct always was in connaught really.If the cycle completes I hope the same people who had the money and influence aren't allowed back out from under their stones.I stopped work to care for my ill parents a few years ago it can be hard but you keep going every day brings victory we weren't brought up to roll over that easy.The Budget will be interesting justifing why the most vulnerable should pay for the mistakes of the affluent I'm not in any way political so I'll stop now just in case I start to climb onto a soapbox. Still enjoy the blogs.Whatever about truckin keep writing

Ken Armstrong said...

Hey George! I have faith in the cycle, although this time around will try even my faith. I reckon we'll learn some stuff this time around too. God, I hope so.

Laura Brown said...

I stopped listening to the news a long time ago. If you listen too much it feels like there is no hope at all. Another woman missing, another woman found murdered, another woman shot in the head by her boyfriend/ husband. If you listen to all of that who would you ever trust, you'd become paranoid and live like a hermit with far too many cats and your groceries being delivered - but just to the fence, not to the door itself!

The economic stuff aside, the violence and aggressiveness is what really worries me. So, I've just stopped listening to it. Once you stop listening to the news you remember what life was like when your world was more about your neighbours than the world at large. You focus on what the people you can help everyday are doing and what they need. Everything looks much better when you deal with what is in front of you instead of looking at the world - as reported by the news mongers who want to sell papers after all. Newspapers aren't exactly out there to report world peace and good to all men. They make money by selling us fear, thrills and chills.

If you listen to the news you have to keep in mind that you are getting a warped version of the world. Sex, fear and violence sell far better than the kid who found their lost puppy. They save the nice news for somewhere inside the paper. Good news seldom makes page one.

hope said...

The good point is that it is a cycle and cycles can be broken.

That said, sometimes I'd like to obtain a gag order, or maybe just the gag, for the mass media. Didn't their mothers ever tell them if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all? :)

Kidding aside, too much info is like an overdose. In the past planes and countries crashed...you just didn't get an update on gloom every 30 seconds.

I still think clouds have silver linings and rainbows are nature's way of waving hello. And I've learned where the OFF button is on the t.v. and car radio. :)

But YOU are worth listening to. And I thank you for a moment of sunshine.

Ken Armstrong said...

Laura: I listen to a lot less news now, that used to help. But here, these days, the bad news has permeated ever street-conversation, every murmur. It's a pain-in-the-ass. :)

Hope: Rather than the off-button on the radio, I tend to flick to the classical music station. It's peaceful over there... mostly. :)