So, how was my 2012?

So, how was 2012 for me?

There are less than four hours left of what has been a really good year for me. It’s true that I still don’t have a proper job and the year has for the most part been a washout with record rainfall. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics all failed to get me wildly excited. And then there was that atrocity in Connecticut.

But I’m the type to focus on positive things. 2012 has been my first full year living in Ireland. I have reconnected with most of the people I left behind when I moved to London in 1991. And since I joined the church choir and then the Legion of Mary I’ve made more friends. The fifteen Christmas cards on my mantel piece is a little proof of that.

Over the past year I’ve really got used to life in the little town of Downpatrick, whereas before I had been living in the immense urban sprawl of London. The countryside of Lecale is only a fifteen minute walk from my house, whereas in Walthamstow the countryside of Essex and Hertfordshire was more than an hour’s bike ride away. There are two beaches, Tyrella Beach and Murlough Beach where I can freely walk about barefoot (weather and tides permitting, of course) and they’re both within walking distance of my house. There is nothing like that in or around London.

Still more, the Christmas cards I sent out and the ones I received all serve to remind me of what a great family I have here.

This is something I wrote on a jotter some months ago and I mean it just as much now as I did then: Thank you, God, for giving me so much!

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Solstice is past

This is the lowest point of the year. I find myself wanting to stay in bed for as long as I can, often not getting up before midday. We’re getting about seven and a half hours of daylight each day, we’ve had rain every day and not the merest glimmer of sunlight. The Samaritans deal with more calls from suicidal people during December than in any other month. The gloom is exacerbated by the immense social and commercial build-up to Christmas with all the garish glitter and false opulence that comes with a capitalist society. And the gloom is worse still during that grey period between the 26th and the 31st of December when all the phony excitement is over and all that remains is the debris of the year, piles of wrapping paper, broken toys, the Christmas tree that you got cheap shedding its needles and the bottles of wine, whiskey, beer and vodka are now as empty as your soul.

Yes, this really is the anus of the year. But for me at this time the Winter Solstice is past. The path to Spring is just beginning. It’s a very slow start and at times it seems we’re regressing back into Winter. But it will move forward, nature will renew itself and we’ll soon be enjoying the path Spring and Summer (and hopefully not last year’s washout).

Here’s to 2013!

NRA: totally unhelpful

One week after the atrocity at Sandy Hook school in Newton, Connecticut the National Rifle Association, a staunch proponent of the “American Way” and of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, has broken its silence. Wayne LaPierre, its chief executive, said that laws proposed by the government to designate schools as gun-free zones were misguided.

“They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

He further stated that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” and proposed that there be armed guards in every school in the country.

It’s unlikely that these half-baked ideas will catch on with anybody in the upper echelons of the US government. If they took that hare-brained step then schools wouldn’t be safe for anybody. And it would only be a matter of time before the USA became a true dystopia, a place where everyone was armed, where nobody could trust anybody and where it would take just a raised voice or a mistaken glance to spark a shoot-out.

And the solution to the USA’s perennial gun debate that I suggested in my last post would come about much sooner with everybody shooting everybody else dead. But then that’s how the USA got started, with the genocide of the native population. The shootings will continue. It’s who the American people are.

Sandy Hook School, Newton, Connecticut, 14/12/2012

Gun crime and murder are endemic to the United States but what happened in this quiet town in Connecticut was especially horrific. In this shooting, the latest in a long line of indiscriminate killings, twenty-six people were shot dead, six adults and twenty children aged six and seven.

This gun culture that infests the USA is one of the main reasons why I could never live there. It’s a culture that transcends race. No one is unaffected by it, be they W.A.S.P., Black, Hispanic, Jewish or Red Indian. Even the Amish have not escaped as those who remember the 2006 West Nickel Mines tragedy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, can tell you.

Needless to say, this has reignited the debate about guns in the USA with politicians everywhere blowing volumes of hot air about what a tragedy this is and how something should be done and that there has been lots of rhetoric but little or no action. The really depressing thing is, this is not the first time such an atrocity has happened (although it is the first to involve so many children) and it will not be the last.

Politicians can pass all the anti-gun legislation they want but this obsession the American people have with firearms is too deeply ingrained for legislation to have any really positive effect.

A further problem lies with the American Constitution. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of American citizens to have weapons, be they guns, cannons or swords. And to most Americans the Constitution is like Holy Writ. To do away with any part of the Constitution would be to a Christian  like doing away with any of the Books of the New Testament.

In short, it’s no good just taking away the people’s weapons. Their hearts and minds will have to change too. Unless that happens these tragedies will repeat and repeat and repeat and this never-ending gun debate will only ever be resolved when the last two Americans in the world have shot each other dead.

Don’t feel like doing much of anything

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It’s the tail end of the year and  everything and everybody is winding down for the winter. At least that’s how I feel at the minute. I’ve got about another eleven hours of night  to go.

It’s not that my sleeping pattern has gone haywire, though that certainly happen in these dismal winter days. No, the reason is I had dinner at Denvir’s in English Street with Mum at 3:00 this afternoon. After that, well, Saturday, or what was left of it, was totally free.

Now if today was a day between May and August I would be typing this entry just as the sun was going down over  the playing fields and telling the world what a lovely day I’d had. I would have just come back from a hike around Lecale, from Inch Abbey, Raholp, Ballyclander or Tyrella Beach, tired but happy in the knowledge that I’d made the best of a beautiful day.

But with the winter solstice only a week away and the forty shades of dark grey in the sky, say nothing of the rain and floods, there’s precious little to do other than go to bed.

We haven’t had any snow yet and we were very lucky last year in that we had no snow at all. And anyone who follows my blog will already know my opinion on that stuff.