An annotated version of Gay Byrne’s ‘Meaning of life’ television program went viral recently as Stephen Fry gave a speech about why he didn’t believe that God was that good a dude. “How dare [God] create a world where there is so much misery that is not our fault”, Fry’s retorts were succinct and devastating. Gaybo grimacing in the face of some harsh truths was lauded as a brilliant moment of television, but also a great stand against hypocrisy, by many who feel the same antipathy towards the ignorance of organized religion. Fry described the existence of creatures “who’s entire lifecycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind”; a demon fouler than most in the good book, then blankly asked, “why did [God] do that to us”?
The world felt lighter as the agnostics and atheists collectively jumped out of their couches in excitement, but I found it harder to make the leap. I wholly agreed with Fry, I think he very eloquently voiced what many of us think; but this was no revelation. Not for fry, and not for myself. Fry had appeared in several interviews with that same argument and that same level of wit. He was reaming off a rehearsed truth, which to many seemed like a revelation. Now, had our former president Mary McAleese, when she had appeared on the same show, approached religious hypocrisy with the same level of intellectual courage and show of force, I may have spilled some of tea jolting forward in my chair.
Our former president’s interview was frustrating to watch. A woman who has clearly accomplished so much in her life, an intellectual and a human of great moral command, floundered in obedient frustration when speaking about the church’s view on Women priests. She had sent letters to the Vatican, and had spoken with theologians in an effort to know why women, like herself could not stand as equals with men. It pained me to see a person I respected so much remain faithful to an institution which still, in modern society, practices discrimination while telling us its merely tradition. She held on to her church when she knew it was wrong, when she knew there was no justification for their decision.
Only recently McAleese came out publicly in favour of Gay marriage, opposition to which can be, and should be classed among numerous growing pains that we face, as we emerge from the ‘primordial ooze’ of Catholic Ireland. Why should the endorsement of a base level moral decision come as a surprise to so many? Because of the former president’s irrational affinity with the old gods of the Irish value system, I would imagine.
In a lot of ways, it displayed to me exactly the mental backflips being made by the reasoned and right-minded older generations of our country. Chained to a religious and conservative upbringing their moral compass comes built with a dysfunctional magnet, never allowing their decisions to point forward, but always sideways or backwards. Of course there are those who in their colloquial and Irish air’s say, ‘Well who I am I to say that these people can’t get married’; and that’s one position, one which is acceptable from those ingrained with the dysfunctional compass. We, the energetic, young, hungry and Irish, who fucked our compasses into a river and decided to navigate by the stars, we cannot take ourselves out of this equation as the older generation so politely do. We are, in every literal sense of the word, the men and women who will say if our friends, our brothers, our sisters and peers do have the right to marry. We are the ones who say gay people can be a husband or a wife. We are not impartial, we cannot be, and we cannot allow others to be either. This decision is bigger than ourselves, our local pub talks, GAA teams, our after sessions, our college coffee breaks, the small nucleus cells which swim past one another everyday occupying the same living creature, separated by post codes and TV shows, accents and inflections, we are all bound to the same roads to walk on and the same sea that surrounds us. Ireland is our country, we own its future morality, its politics and its laws. This referendum is the first brick we law down, in the foundation of a state that is truly ours. We can argue and disagree, even tear ourselves apart, but so long as we do it on an equal playing field, where every member of this state we have created has an equal opportunity to tear it down, then we can truly say this country is our own.
The No Campaign’s posters, which litter the poles and street corners of my suburb and Town are a glaring reminder of the morally repugnant elements which still hide in corners of our society. Acting the victim while playing the villain, they complain about being bullied and silenced as though its surprising that when they oppose the word word ‘equality’ we might shout ‘inequality’ back in response. I would have been, for while of the view that ‘we should allow them to hang themselves’, allow the public full view of their idiocy, let the people of this country see for themselves the claw marks they make in a cell of their own invention. Watching a deranged No campaign preacher list off Biblical quotes at the gates of Trinity College, it felt like I was passing a stall in ‘The Life of Brian’. For the brief moment I enjoyed snickering at his eccentricities, then suddenly remembered, even in Python’s satirical film, people still followed the ‘Holy Gourd of Jerusalem’.
We cannot afford to allow the hysterical and the bigoted to take stake in our country. We cannot afford to be pulled backwards into a time that isn’t our own. The past is a foreign place, the future is where we live, where you reading this will live, your vote on May 22nd decides which way the compass points; I hope you join me in finding something better to lead ourselves, than a fucking compass.
#Grá #Tá #VoteYes