HOW much is going to change in 2015? By how much will Ireland be different? Or should we be asking how much will stay the same?
The Irish Government might change. It might stay the same. For how long would we notice?
Michael O’Leary and co. in the business world will still be foisting their crass vision of society upon us and their journalist friends in the media will continue to trumpet them.
Influential voices will insist that the economy is getting better even as we look around us and put our hands in our pockets and see no real evidence of that. Eamon Dunphy will be outraged about something as if the pantomime season went on all year round.
There will be a scandal of some kind or other.
Enda Kenny will continue his caring guy act the same way he did with Mairia Cahill over her terrible sexual abuse whilst at the same time the Irish State was dragging the likes of Louise O’Keefe through the courts telling these abused Irish children that if they seek recompense through the law that they risk losing their homes.
Other Irish children will go to school and then go back to direct provision centres where their asylum seeker families live in intolerable conditions under a system that doesn’t work and is inhumane but manages to financially reward certain property owners enormously.
I’ll make one prediction, not next year and not the year after, but one year this will be Ireland’s big scandal and it will shock Irish society.
Some brave journalist with the means to do so will do what others did for clerical abuse and industrial school abuse and unearth a whole sea of corruption and dishonesty whereby certain people with influential contacts managed to amass wealth on the back of other people’s lives.
But perhaps asking what will be different is the wrong question. Perhaps it is the wrong question entirely.
For it is what stays the same that will enrich us and that Ireland will still be able to give us.
So I know that someone will still say hello in the street and make a grey day better.
I know there will be a lane somewhere or a headland overlooking the sea where any of us will be able to walk and find peace and solitude and time to think. Time not to have to be a shopper or a consumer or someone with an opinion on everything and anything but just be an Irish person walking an Irish country lane.
It will be 2015 but we will still be able to do that. I know that we will be able to light a fire on a cold evening and sit by it and think this is okay isn’t it, we don’t have to do anything or be anywhere or contact anyone and didn’t generations and generations do this before us and isn’t it enough?
And it will be enough to think that even something like that is in itself a political response to the world and the Ireland they try to build around us.
The farmer on the lane will stop and talk and check on everything and make it clear whilst doing so, that at the moment of doing it, this is the most important thing we could be doing. That stopping is an achievement in itself.
And I’ll listen because he’s worked and walked that lane for many, many years. And, of course, at some stage in the year I’ll put the radio back on, watch the news, buy the paper, get annoyed and disappointed at the nonsense and the carry-on and the dishonesty and the self-serving and the mind-numbing obsession with fame and the famous.
And I’ll watch a match and get swept along in the drama and emotion of it all and have too much to drink and wake in the morning hungover and sore.
But none of that matters. And Michael O’Leary doesn’t matter and Enda Kenny doesn’t matter and Eamon Dunphy doesn’t matter.
What matters is that Ireland will still offer to me the hidden lane and the headlands and the sea and the quiet hello and the roaring fire and the stopping and the sitting and everything that matters clear in the silence and the stillness.
And it will be 2015 and it will be good.