John Waters’ despairing column in today’s Irish Times about the ‘promise’ of a new politics in Ireland has a certain quality of ‘negative capability’. I would like to think that this is what he wanted it to have. The Reform Alliance is, I hope, not about dreams people might have had in the past but is about the framework within which we will build our future in a wider world.
We can sit and curse the darkness or we can crack a match and look for a way out. To do that we don’t have to have the answer to every question. In fact we don’t have to have an answer to any of them. We only need the determination to look for them, the honesty to tell it as it is and the courage to break the chains of deceit which bind us in the present system. One of those chains is the mythical Irish dream which John Waters uses as a foil to highlight the folly of our contemporary delusions.
We can only start from where we are. But where we are going to must be a new place, a real place, not some mythical past created by an Irish “genius”. Let us be less insular, let us be human first. It is not terribly important that we are Irish. What is important is that we have a human community to organise, and organise together. The tragedy of our present state derives from the deficiencies in our humanity which we have indulged – greed, weakness, cowardice, dishonesty and disloyalty. These are the first things we have to recognise and set our face against. The rest will not be easy but it will follow if we grasp this stinging nettle. “Fare forward, travellers!”