Dan Boyle: New World Record


From top: Lockdown measures in O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 yesterday; Dan Boyle

This week my daughter gave birth to a son. What a world he is being born into. A world whose future is more uncertain than perhaps it has ever been.

He has the advantage of coming into loving family. His two bigger sisters will certainly help. Even at their still young ages, they’ve already experienced much in their short lives.

As a family, like thousands of other families these days, they have been bobbing and weaving especially when trying find long term accommodation for themselves.

This is a generation that will struggle more with less than their parents have had. I worry, three days into his life, that my grandson’s generation will find itself another generation that is part of this ongoing trend.

This would be a worry if we end up going back to way we used to do things. I would be hoping my daughter’s generation, on behalf of their children, that will hit the reset button on this badly misshapened world of ours.

We badly need a better set of values. We need a more profound sense of worth.

In worrying about future generations having less, we should be asking if our generation in having more have had too much of what we may never have needed.

And we will have start doing things differently. Probably everything differently.

We need to critically evaluate how we have done things before now. We need to question the very basis of the society we have created.

I’m not talking about indulging in utopian fantasies. This isn’t about imagining a better future. It should be about challenging those shibboleths of how we have been living our lives, recognising what we thought to be rewards have been anything but.

We should be living our lives more in the local. Meeting most of our needs within the shortest possible radius from where we live. This should include where and how we work.

We need to do more for ourselves, by ourselves, within ourselves.

Given this period of other worldliness we should be able to more easily identify that which has been superfluous.

This isn’t about appealing to our inner hippy. What we leave behind will be difficult to agree and even harder to let go of. We need a better definition of creature comforts.

Nor is this about some retreat from technology back to some romanticised rustic idyll. We will need new and better technology to help us to get to where we need to get to.

We may still become more urbanised. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. What we will need to do is to target our urban growth. In Ireland that should require restricting growth of Dublin, helping to grow other Irish cities and large towns.

To bring these changes about we will need greater democracy with more decentralised, local decision making. These may be the hardest changes to bring about.

These are changes that have long been required in any case. Crisis may be helping to concentrate our minds, but the change has always been necessary.

Mammon has never been the hero we have latterly portrayed him to be. It is time to put him out of existence.

By the way the child’s name is Jack. I think he’ll be all right.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


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