‘The People’ are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer… they have but need of courage…
We would like to contribute something on behalf of the people of Ireland.
As concerned individuals, commentators and organisations consider the situation facing our country the discussion often degrades into critical comment on the people.
Some involved in campaigning or advocating the rights of the people have used phrases such as “sheep” or “lazy” or “apathetic” or similar words to describe the Irish people. Many have expressed exasperation at the absence of mass protest against the lack of democracy and imposition of austerity.
It is often said that the “rebel Irish” are no more, that we have been stupefied, that we are a lost cause!
BUT, how can one blame a slave for their condition? for the symptoms of their enslavement?
If the people do not respond to an approach or follow a protest, who says it is the people who are wrong? Maybe it is the approach which is lacking?
Who do these individuals or organisations think they are? do they think they ‘know better’ than the people? Isn’t this the very same logic that the Political Parties use … that they know better how to run the country than we do… that the people need to be lead and need to be ruled over! Because we are stupid!
The Irish people are great and heroic, humble and respectful, we are democratic and freedom loving, we are generous and helpful to those in need. We are well educated and hardworking, we are not stupid! We Irish people have a collective knowledge and understanding of our own experience and history, we will not be sold a half-solution!
Individuals and organisations concerned with advocating the cause of the people need to shape up to the task, do the thing that is needed. Put to second place the ideological differences, the ‘ism’, ‘left‘ or ‘right‘, the policy preferences and Political Parties. We must keep our own ideas but unite on the basis of our common interests as Irish people, to assert our right to rule, to determine the policy of our own state.
Who has stood for the people up to now and how have they regarded us?
This poem by PH Pearse says a lot and it is worth re-reading many times.
I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,
I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!
I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!