It Doesn’t Seem Like Christmas This Year


The GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 this morning

Anon writes:

If you work in Dublin city centre, and perhaps not even if you do, you walk past them many times a day.

They lie or sit on the street, in a way that travellers to Egypt, or Lisbon, or Turkey, may be familiar with. But it is not Egypt, or Lisbon, or Turkey, and the weather is wet, and cold, and the Dublin wind is vicious.

Their faces are red and mottled and their heads down, conserving their energy for the bigger fight of the night.

They lie sideways to shield themselves from the wind, in front of windows full of mannequins decked out in sequins and rhinestones, against the doors of the city’s institutes of higher education, or on the steps of museums and the GPO.

Some have lost work, others families, by death or divorce. In childhood, or after it, many, if not all have suffered pain during their lives, pain maybe even greater than that which they are suffering now.

Their existence challenges the comfortable universe which we are still entreated to believe exists in this country but which, inside, we know does not, and maybe never did.

To hide our pain and fear, we pretend that they do not exist, and, where this pretense is unavoidable, salve our wounds by blaming them for their misfortune.

When asking ourselves – what has brought them to this pass, we focus on the self-medication they have used to kill the pain, rather than the pain itself, and its causes deep in our society; we focus on their ill-judged disarrangement of their lives, rather than on the people responsible for this disarrangement; not them, but the people who are running this country have created a situation where citizens are being forced out of their homes by men with dogs employed by foreign firms, like something out of the Land League, the Black and Tans.

We pay heavy taxes to what we believe is an independent State to have this State run properly, to have homes for our people, hospitals for our sick, schools or our children, not just so that we and our families can have a safety net if things go wrong, but also so that we can live in a society in which people feel, safe, respected, cared for and able to get on with the wonderful business of living.

We live in a city where, despite all possible reasons to the contrary there are still people uncared for and neglected in this way, even if we ourselves never need this safety net, we are damaged and diminished in an irretrievable way by their pain, and our ignoring of it. Our perception is subtly shifted, places we loved seem tawdry, people we admired look hollow, our joy in life is taken away.

It doesn’t seem like Christmas this year.

And rather than asking: why is it this way, why do I seem so distressed when I have a job, a warm home, when I’m the lucky one, remember that no person is an island, that to ignore the suffering of others is ultimately to take away one’s joy in life, that to deny pain and fail to act out of fear, or to cling to a non-existent dream that all is alright (as RTE do) is to be a serf, and worse still to know it.

We live in a democracy. We are told we have the power. We need to start believing it, and, further, that a democracy is about, not just caring for others, but also for oneself. Because each other person’s pain affects us more than we know.


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34 thoughts on “It Doesn’t Seem Like Christmas This Year

  1. ollie

    No mention of investment in Mental Health in this article, the cause of a lot of homelessness.
    That and substance addiction, and of course organised Roma gangs.

    1. Starina

      and mental health services won’t take someone if they’re “complicated” by substance abuse – they have to be clean first. And the main reason they drink/do drugs is to dull the mental health problems.

  2. newsjustin

    “….the people who are running this country have created a situation where citizens are being forced out of their homes by men with dogs employed by foreign firms, like something out of the Land League, the Black and Tans.”

    Ok, as this piece makes that convenient connection, if the person evicted in Roscommon had paid his taxes, perhaps Christmas would be a little less grim for a homeless person? Or if he had paid his loan or handed over the asset it was secured upon, perhaps a few more families might have stayed in their homes because Irish banks might shave a tiny amount off the mortgage rate.

    1. Col

      And if the bank repossessed that house, they could sell it to another family. It makes no difference to the housing stock to people ratio, so has no impact on homelessness.

      1. Col

        Also, the Land League was trying to abolish landlordism in this country!!
        Someone not paying their mortgage is not a comparable situation.

  3. Liza-Lu

    “we focus on the self-medication they have used to kill the pain, rather than the pain itself, and its causes deep in our society”

    1. postmanpat

      ….the pain of being fiddled by a priest back in the day . 1 in 4 guys…1 in 4.. this is the society we live in , every adult you meet has a 1 in 4 chance of being mentally disturbed. later generations have god knows how much neurosis because one or both of their folks was abused. And took it out of there kids growing up. This is my generation,. Its so recent. I work alongside a lot of the older generation that was most at risk of being abused and I can see the damage it has done to them. Plus a lot of them are my superiors so there’s that to deal with. Bunch of twitchy, , borderline violent bitter dipsos who somehow held it together and who could easily be homeless themselves if one or two circumstances changed in their lives but thankfully didn’t.

      1. Bort

        I actually didn’t realise it was 1 in 4, it’s terrifying. In my own family that I know of, my brother, father, 2 of my uncles are victims of sexual abuse. Not too mention the abuse was just sheer violence met out to children, my Grandfather would tell a story of a “Brother” that beat him so badly he was unconscious for a few days. All of my uncles and mother have tales of beatings handed out to them by brothers, priests, teachers, nuns. Every family in this country must have a connection to a loved one who was a victim of child abuse and they may not even know it.

        1. Brother Barnabas

          sadly, yes. and you may not ever know it. but when you are told, it almost always suddenly makes so much sense. of 4 very close friends i had at school, i later learned that 3 of them had been sexually abused – i had no idea. but in each case, it made so much sense – drinking, drug taking, aggression and anger when drunk, how they treated girlfriends… right down to today and how they treat their own children: sudden bursts of anger etc abuse has such an horrendous effect on children – and stays with the adult.

      2. Janet, I ate my avatar

        that is a shocking statistic, 1 in 4 ! Studies on trauma show it has effects right down to your grandchildren not just through behavior but genetic hand downs,
        that is a huge chunk of people effected

  4. postmanpat

    Eh…still think the church is mostly to blame. They are LOADED and still don’t help !!! They fiddled/bummed 1 in 4 kids back in the day, kids grew up to be alcoholics and substance abusers, or just beat up there wives and let there oversize 8 plus kids family (no contraception you naughty pagans!!) fall to the wayside. Who can keep track of eight kids? answer: no one!! LOTS of boozehound family black sheep out there! Pubs are legal so no one questions the personal and social damages of alcohol . No wonder there are so many crazies in sleeping bags who cant get there life together. There’s father Fiddlmebum there having a Guinness , lets buy him a pint for that nice Xmas mass (the only mass the cowardly hypocrites in this sexually abused country go to a year) …Maybe the church should clean up this mess. Maybe pay up the money they agreed to pay for starters. Until then.. the silly prose like the puke above, and the likes Peter McVerry can put a sock in it. Its all the church’s fault. money is the solution and the roman catholic church is worth billions , time to liquate them for good.

      1. postmanpat

        What good non contraceptive using compliant god fearing Catholics breeders your folk were. congratulations. My mother came from a 8 kids family too . 4 girls/ 4 boys . 3 of my uncles are alcoholics and I strongly suspect the parish priests had something to do with that. (Kimmage /Crumlin area) their dad died when they were young, my eldest uncle is the most together, but the eldest aren’t typically targeted by pervert predators. My brother in laws mother came from a 10 sibling family. One of his uncles was a homeless john doe in a morgue for a full week before any of his siblings knew about it. He didn’t have a good life. But your family is fine as far as you know. great. I take back everything I said about the church they are a force for good and not a danger to kids as all at all. and so what if one in four gets got? It a small price to pay to get everlasting life . Bring back the old days I say!!! More humans I say, the planet can manage!!

        1. newsjustin

          I knew it.

          Even when it was the banks, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the EU, the HSE, the IRA and country and western music, I knew it was the church.

          (I believe that 1 in 4 figure is for victims of sexual abuse committed by anyone, not just Catholic priests btw)

          1. Brother Barnabas

            ah, justin… that’s not what he’s saying.

            but a lot of it did come from the church – especially the silence and shame around it

          2. newsjustin

            “Eh…still think the church is mostly to blame. They are LOADED and still don’t help !!! They fiddled/bummed 1 in 4 kids back in the day, “

          3. postmanpat

            HA! the banks, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the EU, the HSE, the IRA and country and western music all have their faults (especially the country and western music) , but none of them controlled peoples minds. The church did though, through guilt, Ireland was (and still is, especially in the sticks) a guilt based society. culche students still have to show the face in the local church when they come home for the weekend. Its nearly 2019 BTW!!! 2000 years of this horse-h-t. All the church has to do is make people feel various levels of guilt for completely normal feelings. Horniness, lets use that for one example. Happens to everyone, but if your catholic, you automatically lose the rigged game and now you’re in their debt. Masturbated? now you’ve gone and done it! Are you gong to stop? hell no. And that is just the heterosexuals. Are you a homosexual? oh dear, what to do?become a priest I guess, keep the self touching to a minimum, see what happens then. Nothing bad I hope. Got fiddled ? now you have shame AND guilt. What could go possibly wrong? Or you can marry a woman and drink the feeling away. get frustrated from time to time and bate the sh!te out of your kids when they make noise and you have a hangover. It all goes back to the Roman catholic church. They are an evil f*king organization. Kill them , and you kill the drink abuse and mental health problems in one generation. They are the source!!! But you’ll all be in mass for Xmas so I may as well be banging my head against a brick wall.

          4. newsjustin

            You’ve clearly never lived in or experienced life in any country where the Catholic church doesn’t exist or barely exists. I regret to report that bad things happen in the absence of the Catholic church, or any other religion for that matter.

          5. Brother Barnabas

            well why didn’t you say that before, justin? that changes everything.

            we can all stop being angry at the Catholic Church in Ireland because other people do other bad things in other countries

          6. millie st murderlark

            I’d do myself a favour and shut up right now. Your belief in god does not absolve you from being a dick (which you are right now) and it sure as shit doesn’t absolve your church.

            I agree with pat. The church has an awful lot to answer for. They have ruined lives. At least two in my own family that we know of. But yeah, they *need* to be shown the gospel, those godless heathens.

          7. Janet, I ate my avatar

            I have and yes bad things happen everywhere but without the Catholic Church other good things happen too.

            What a silly argument, we are talking about here, Ireland and the abuse here .

          8. Janet, I ate my avatar

            we have yet to see a country function without any other religions as you put it, maybe with a little more evolution we can at least get to a point where your beliefs are at least private and don’t have any away on the lives , education or health of your fellow citizens.

  5. anne

    All our cities are filled with misfortunes no one gives a fupp about.

    I used to sort of look down my nose at dishevelled, unhygienic types… walking around confused looking or talking to themselves.

    Then you realise they’re like that for a reason. And there’s little to no help there for them.

  6. Liam Deliverance

    Well done Anon, a nicely written piece. It’s difficult to convey one’s thoughts into a written piece like that and to be succinct, to maintain some balance and to not rant. I hear the points you are making and I can only conclude that the reason our society is the state it is in is because the people that care, that see the rot, that are willing to do something about it, to sacrifice for the bigger picture is very much a minority and fighting an uphill battle. Thankfully nothing stays the same, we are always changing, always adapting and I see small signs that we are changing in the right direction, albeit at a glacial pace currently. This piece is another one of those signs.

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