I have been struggling with a chest infection and then asthma for the past number of weeks. I have had asthma since I was five years old and this has been the worst it has been in fifteen years. I’ve been to the doctor three times and have been getting by with a cocktail of steroids, antibiotics, inhalers and pain killers.
But this is a good time and a good place to have asthma.
When I was a child there was very little medication. I remember the terror of facing adrenalin injections to keep my breathing going when I was young. I remember the names of boys at the special school I attended who didn’t return from holidays because the asthma got the better of them, two died in the summer of 1974.
The medication is excellent and the medical care is excellent, people who come on the radio and use words like ‘Third World’ about the Irish health service have no idea whatsoever about the reality of life for the majority of the world’s population.
It is good to live here and it is good to live in these times.Yet every time I put on the radio or open the newspaper, someone seems to be complaining. If you took some of the columns of the Irish Times as representing the reality of everyday life, you would think that everyone was utterly miserable, that every family was plagued with problems of drink and drugs, and that we all lived in constant danger from armed criminals.
There are problems, and no-one would wish to downplay the seriousness of those problems for the people concerned, but actually, for, most of us, life is OK. When I walk down Grafton Street or Henry Street there seems no shortage of shoppers. When I watch the N11 on a Friday evening, there seem to be great numbers heading for the coast. When I look around at the traffic lights, there seem lots of happy people in nice, shiny cars. Most of us have plenty to be happy about.
So, why the moaning? Because I think that there are things that have been lost, but they are things that aren’t going to be replaced by more Government expenditure or new policies.
A sense of belonging to a community, a sense that you matter, a sense that life has a meaning and a purpose, are just as important as houses and cars and all the consumer goods we gather around us.We can’t buy those things, we can’t legislate for them; and, somewhere along the way, many people have lost them.
We are closer to Boston than Berlin in our economics, yet we are closer to Berlin than Boston in our liberal and materialist view of life.
We forgot that what makes Americans happy is not just the wealth of their nation; it is the faith by which they their daily lives. Democrat or Republican, there is a deep Christian faith.
Money is no use to us if we have lost the soul that gives life its meaning; I think that’s the root of the columnists’ complaint.