“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er shopping centres,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the apples, beneath the pears,
Fluttering and dancing in the muzak.”
I know that by now half of you are thinking that I plagiarised the poem from William Wordsworth but in fairness when I read the BBC news on Saturday morning I did not know whether to laugh or cry. It turns out that some Health and Safety Officer in England has advised supermarkets not to display daffodils near the fruit and veg stand.
“Supermarkets have been urged to keep daffodils away from fruit and vegetable aisles this spring - in case they are mistaken for food. In a letter to major stores, Public Health England warned the flowers could be confused with onions or Chinese vegetables, and consumption of them was an "emerging risk".
Daffodils contain toxic alkaloids that can cause severe vomiting, it said.”
But it gets better: there were 27 cases of poisoning linked to daffodils and narcissi last year.
You have to admit, some people are just plain thick, and if you read between the lines, this is what Prof Paul Cosford is saying:
“Paul Cosford director for health protection at Public Health England, wrote a letter to the stores headed "steps to avoid daffodil poisonings this spring".
He said: Each spring stores such as yours provide a wide selection of flowers, particularly cut daffodils and daffodil bulbs.” (BBC News)
I am not sure who, but someone, somewhere, deserves a good cuff about the ear; it may be the people who eat the daffodils or it may be Paul Cosford, but someone, somewhere, deserves a good cuff about the ear.
The Pope would agree with me on this for according to Pope Francis:
“Pope Francis outlined the traits of a good father: one who forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” while not discouraging the child.
“One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them’,” Francis said. “How beautiful.” he added. “He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.” (The Guardian)
Fatherhood is a bit of a ‘no-no’ nowadays. The idea of a good father is something to be laughed at and mocked. But I wonder how right this impression is?
I found myself asking this question during the week when I was watching a video by Father Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., which he gave at a conference in Los Angeles a couple of years ago.
But before we go on to that let us hear what Fr Rolheiser first said on the subject of fatherhood. It wasn’t much actually: he simply asked the question, ‘what was the most popular television programme in the world in 1965?’
I hadn’t a clue and I bet that you don’t either.
It was, wait for it…Bonanza. Lorne Green played Ben Cartwright, the ‘father’ and head of the household. Fr Rolheiser pointed out that Cartwright stood for all that was good and honourable in fatherhood.
“What was the most popular TV programme in 1985?” asked Fr Rolheiser. I bet you haven’t a clue about this one either.
Well, Dallas and the shenanigans of JR Ewing, were the new leaders. The world had really taken on secularism by this time and many people would say that JR was more real than good old papa Ben Cartwright.
But actually, when you think about it, do you know more men like JR or Ben Cartwright.
Or, let us phrase the question another way, do you honestly think that Ireland is a better place since we have mocked the idea of fatherhood and replaced it with models of JR?
When we are at it, we can bring the question nearer home, would you want your daughter marrying a JR or a good solid person such as Ben Cartwright?
Ben had a big farm called the ‘Ponderosa,’ which is the name of a tall, slender North American pine tree. Although there was a different story every week, no one messed with the Cartwright’s for they stood together, a bit like the old “Land League” which was about in Ireland at the time.
In 1879, the Irish National “Land League” was founded and Charles Stewart Parnell was appointed its president. The Land League had three simple policies, the so-called ‘Three F’s’; Fair rent, Fixed tenure, Free sale of land.
The Land league knew simple effective ways to make life difficult for those who made profit by the misery of others:
"When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted you must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen and in the marketplace, and even in the place of worship, by leaving him alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his country as if he were the leper of old, you must show your detestation of the crime he has committed."
Such a tactic was used against a land agent called Boycott and boycotting was used as a word to describe the tactic espoused by Parnell.
The Land League is back, thank God.
The new land league appears to be the brainchild of one Tom Darcy, a bloke that I had never heard off until the weekend. I am not sure if he is an elected member of anything but it appears that at least he is in the running to be an MEP. He originally formed a group called Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) and from this the Land League appears to have been formed.
“One of the many reasons DDI was founded was in response to the outright dehumanisation of the Irish people at the hands of the banks in cahoots with the government.
This year we have been warned that more misery will be piled on the Irish people with some 50,000 possession orders expected to be sought in the courts. This could potentially result in 200,000 men women and children being evicted, with little hope of being able to find or afford anywhere to live.” (DDI Website)
Don’t you love it when the wee man stands up against the big fella! Such events give us a bit of hope and I think that they should burn their houses to the ground before they hand them back.
When we see the same rigorous application of the law applied to the ‘nice people’ then we will begin to have some respect for the Irish government; it would make you angry.
Another man in bad temper is Stephen Fry. On some show with Gay Byrne, Fry was asked what he would say to God if he met him. The reply:
"I'll say, 'Bone cancer in children? What's that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that's not our fault? It's not right. It's utterly utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"
Good man, Fry. You tell him. You stand in front of Jesus who has died for us, who has walked with us in every day of our pain and you tell him how you would have made it better. How dare God! I wonder what Fry’s real gripe with God is? You always find that these super atheists have something personal against God, some deep level of anger, something eating at them.
The other problem that curses many of these atheists is that they have great intellects; they are highly intelligent and often brilliant minds. They look at the world and see the wonders of creation and think to themselves, “What a pity I couldn’t have done that.”
In other words, they are jealous that they are not God. It is held by many serious thinkers that Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, who many believe to be the father of Nazism, was insanely jealous of God, particularly Jesus, the perfect man whom he could never match. Whether such a theory is true or not, I don’t know.
But I do know that when I listen to all these super atheists of TV and radio, all I can hear is an insane hatred of God.
Imagine the scene: You have finally breathed your last and suddenly you find yourself floating through the tunnel of life, heading towards that light in the distance and your guardian angel tells you that like every other person who has ever lived, you are about to meet Jesus.
Eventually you come up towards the light and see that there is a small queue in front of you and that you are lucky enough to be standing behind one of these super atheists.
Jesus stands silent and the atheist speaks: 'Bone cancer in children? What's that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that's not our fault? It's not right. It's utterly utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"
Jesus looks on, loving the speaker and waiting on him to stop. Silence: Jesus does not speak. The atheist comes out with more of his justifiable anger and rants at Jesus.
Jesus looks on, loving the speaker and waiting on him to stop. When he eventually stops Jesus will show him the world and all that is in it from His point of view, what it all meant and how we were supposed to learn from everything that happened.
When He is finished speaking, Jesus shall invite the atheist to enter heaven.
What shall he do? How does a man who has spent his life hating God, accept God’s love and forgiveness and enter heaven?
How does he leave his arrogance behind?
Margaret Thatcher left some of her arrogance behind.
Do you remember how we all hated her patronizing voice while she justified the death of thousands, be that on the Belgrano or the streets of Belfast, at the hands of her ‘brave boys.’
Well, on Friday I heard a woman from Sinn Fein on the radio talking about the new ‘conscience clause’ being brought in here: if a cook has a guilty conscience about baking a cake supporting something that is against his religion then he does not have to do so.
The Sinn Fein politician sounded just like Margaret Thatcher: reasonable, sweet, and empathetic and most of all, pathetic.
What a come down for the once mighty Sinn Fein who could once make Prime Ministers and Generals quake in their boots: the people who could once order that London be brought to a standstill with a phone call, reduced to promoting homosexual cooking rights.
The point here is nothing to do with homosexuality. The point is that Sinn Fein have totally lost the argument on a United Ireland and have nowhere to turn as a revolutionary party; they would support equal rights for mice in the rodent world if they thought it would make them sound radical.
From 1969 til now Sinn Fein have been supposedly building the foundations of a United Ireland. How many unionists have we convinced of the justice and right of such an island? I would not hesitate to say, “None.”
Is it not time someone, somewhere, in the party asked the question; ‘are we serious about a United Ireland or not?’
If the answer to that question is yes, then it is time Sinn Fein began to pursue policies and put forward arguments in its favour. Surely after all these centuries we know we are not going to shout, bomb or intimidate the English out of our land.
Sinn Fein are quickly becoming replicas of Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael, their radical republican identity forgotten and the establishment beckoning. Republicans need to go right back to the principles of justice, equality and freedom for Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
The harping on about perceived injustices inflicted upon us in the past should be turned into a desire to build a better future.
Are we going to consign our children and grandchildren to a Sinn Fein Nua, an IRA Nua, while never reaching the goal of an Eire Nua?
The views expressed are not necessarily those of
the editor but are the views of the writer.
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