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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Words that moved Nations

“Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the God, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me.”

Spoken by Socrates in the year of 399 BC

“My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.”
Speech given by Queen Elizabeth against the Spanish Armada on the 8th of August in the year of 1588 at Tilsbury, Essex, England

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Abraham Lincoln speaking at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela on the 20th of April 1964 speaking at his own defence at the Pretoria Supreme Court, South Africa.

Photo Minute: London from the air....

Barry Clifford: Inconvenient Children

David Quinn, writing in the Sunday Independent today, has only one defense of the mother and child homes in Ireland and that is to find a similiar state of affairs elsewhere thus trying to help dilute the crime of infant murder if can be diluted at all. To parody Stalin: “One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic” and lies the kernel of David’s tactics. But we are not talking about Sweden, it is Ireland and a Catholic one where more broken little bodies lie just beneath the ground and a nations conscience that still waits for closure. It is also because that Ireland was the most Catholic country in western Europe and it was a living nightmare then though David tries to tell us otherwise.

It is true Britain had led the way before us with Mother and child homes because they led the way here in Ireland too; after all they were the boss of all bosses. And David must remember that the Catholic church ruled them both before King Henry Viii got an idea that he would be better off without them. It is a pity that we did not go along more with old Henry on that one but it does take much longer to change a religion and a point of view than a tantrum from an overwight King suffering from gout and syphillis.

David feels miffed that Ireland is being compared to Stalin’s Russia or Pol Pot’s Cambodia and as he is so fond of statistic’s, I feel it is only fair to offer a relevant point of view with regard to same: Sweden is too far and too cold to matter but if we take 1935 as a random pivotal year to work on then that country had almost nine million people but very few deaths reagrding mother and baby homes. Stalin did not have mother and baby homes for unmarried mothers but did reach a statistic or two for political murder, but then he had 175 million to choose from. Ireland in proportion to them and Cambodia together topped them all.

By 1935 Ireland had already imprisoned over 175,000 children and their mothers by throwing them into baby homes, industrial institutions and Magdalene laundries. In Tuam, just one small town in county Galway, lie 800 babies in an anonymous pit large enough to build a house on one of those institutions, and there are many more to be found and that have already been for the unspeakable has yet to be spoken. In that pivotal year of 1935 Ireland had a population of just 2,800,000. That speaks of the collective grip of religious madness and little else in number terms alone.

Other religions, as David soundbites as a mitigating factor, had the same attitude to unmarried mothers, and many I daresay still do, but that does not make a great wrong right. It is the twisted and frightening  phycosis of religion that is the problem whether you wear a Catholic or a Muslm hat. 

The stoning to death of women still exists in backward desert baked countries and is irrelevant to Ireland and its own version of Catholicism and only is so far that if another 50,000 join her does not make one death any less than murder by any attachment or silent complicity in it by those involved. And a former editor of the Irish Catholic rag mag like David cannot mitigate their (the Irish Catholic church) blame out of these terrible crimes against mothers and their babies or of their other 'inconvenient children' as described by him, though I am sure he will never stop trying as long as the cheque does not bounce from the men dressed in black.

Barry Clifford