SIR – I would like to point out the general feeling that interactions regarding the workings of our society have in some ways eased as a result of Covid-19. Before the lockdown, it felt as it not a moment could pass that there wasn’t some protest taking place regarding the environment, beef prices, sexuality and abortion, etc.
These events, which are, in practice, effectively pointless, are oxymoronically passed off as ‘civil disobedience,’ however, these are largely motivated by pharisaical ‘hero complex,’ which are destructive to energy which could have alternatively been put into socially-positive volunteer efforts.
I have carefully formed the view that the pandemic has put the brakes on what Sir Paul Collier describes in his award-winning 2020 book, ‘Greed Is Dead: Politics After Individualism,’ as ‘expressive individualism.’ If his incredible work had been published in normal circumstances, I believe it would not have received the recognition which it did.
History would prove with ease that Ireland once had a rich culture of participation in voluntary associations and selfless commitment to voluntary community initiatives, however, pernicious doctrines are unfortunately now a largely pervasive force. There exists a mindset where ‘rabble rousing’ and making ‘noise’ is seen as a more noble cause than the very humility and industriousness which pulled our people though much tougher times than what we are experiencing now.
The idea of starting a potentially innovative new volunteer initiative is too often the cause of the turning up of noses by people who are supposedly passionate about a said cause. The decline of civic society has been noted in several studies but perhaps we now have an opportunity to correct this.
Although the arsenal of ‘rabble’ is unlikely to go away completely, we ought to think how our time in relative solitude will change our perspective towards the more serious problems in life. I would not have previously regarded myself as an ‘environmentalist’ in its present contemporary usage, however, after reading some books in the quiet of my spare time, I decided to start an organic vegetable garden and managed to start a sustainable farming association.
If I can do that, surely the great modern day protest armies of Extinction Rebellion and similar groups, with their proven stamina through their constant exertion in the form of shouting and marching, can do likewise. From Ballyvourney to Bantry, the vast lands and groupings of populations in West Cork makes it the perfect place to show what is possible when we bind together with a sense of humility and industry, all in the interest of the common good.
Whether it is a matter of the environment, housing, making our towns and villages more friendly for business, or creating societies which protect beef producers from rotten deals, if we all do what we can to pull together, truly great things can be done.
Cork Sustainable Farming Association,
Kerry Pike, Cork.