Why are there more people claiming for disability in Norneverland than anywhere else? Is there a greater degree of incapacity , physically ,or more likely , mentally ,here, moreso than anywhere else.Why is that so, if it is indeed a fact? Is it a side-effect of living in a self-sustaining lunatic asylum where the rule of the law and indeed the laws of logic , are constantly in flux or is it something else?
Is it because of the ,euphemistically titled, “The Troubles”?
The Irish “Troubles ” are a very wooly notion in any case .What exactly are they? Have we all been affected by them , possibly without even realising that it is the case? I don’t mean the really prominent cases, either.I mean , every single one of us ; those of us reading these words and seeking out books and websites like this to try and better understand ourselves and simply argue the toss.
Yes, “The Troubles” is a very odd state of mind ….or state of being .What caused these troubling “Troubles”and what exactly is their origin story? Did they begin in 1966 with the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising….or was it 1969 when the clamour for Civil Rights was resisted forcibly on the streets and all hell broke loose …or was it that 1916 republican ” Rising” itself ,or did these “Troubles” start with the seditious Ulster Volunteer Force of gunrunners of 1912 who threatened their king with open rebellion if they didn’t get their way. Maybe it can be pin-pointed much earlier to a time of the Plantation or I suppose we might as well get right back to the 12th Century and the Norman invasion. When Prince John Lackland was made Lord of Ireland by his old dad Henry 11, the trouble began you might think.Then when Henry V111 declared himself King of Ireland the ball really got rolling…especially when old Henry thought it was a grand idea to try and introduce the English Reformation into Ireland, with himself as an ersatz English Pope with a direct line to god, the fun really began.”Troubles?”… Pah!! These kings always thought they’d a “special” pre-ordained place in the universe, didn’t they?How else could they have been so lucky , otherwise , they reasoned.
Whatever the origin story , we seem to have lived with the incipient background wash of madness that these “Troubles” has engendered and it has percolated into our very DNA as a people. Our children have been born infected with the blight of it too, to the point that they think that what we live in is a “normal” society…..”Troubles”, paranoia and all.
It’s is only the small pecentage who have actually escaped to live elsewhere in the world, if even for a short period of time, who have been allowed to realise the harm that has been done in Ireland, and specifically in the Northern part of it. They realise quite quickly when they are away from it , that what has been taken as “normal” life by the average person living in Norneverland is no such thing in reality .It closely approximates normality but it is only a shadow of the real thing, like some kind of theme park created under a plexiglass bubble .People have been forced by fear to live ghettoised existences. Many live in fear the loss of their very identity and proclaim the nature of it at every opportunity, as if to enforce it …as if to prove that it is real ,or more real than their perceived enemies idea of identity .Anyone leaving this place to live elsewhere quickly becomes aware that elsewhere they do not paint their kerbstones in tribal colours or break the laws annually by building huge polluting bonfires. They do not fly flags everywhere either to define a specific walled or demarcated community. Elsewhere the authorities would never allow such things and would quickly bring it under control. They would’t see it as “normal” behaviour and , of course , that’s because it isn’t. Many live behind huge towering walls to protect them from their neighbours.They do not live like this elsewhere either.
So it can be assumed that if the societal picture shows up some sure signs of insanity or mental and psychological damage , then it is entirely possible that there are very many people who have been damaged simply by living there.You might say that everyone living within this peculiar world is a”victim” .It is the rational thing to think, isn’t it?.How could it be otherwise?There is still some confusion evident though , because some will argue as to what exactly being a “victim” means.You’d imagine that it was obvious what a “victim” was . A “victim” would be anyone born into this very odd system of life and living, who has been damaged by it.That might expose itself in a variety of forms, given that the “victims” might well have been damaged by other “victims” similarly afflicted by being born within this very odd system. As Kurt Vonnegut would say ..”And so it goes”….in other words , what else could you possibly expect.
Still…..like something that Gulliver might have experienced in Lilliput, some” victims” are inclined to believe that they are worthier “victims” than other “victims”. It might be worth pausing and remembering for a moment that everyone living within this insane system is already a bona fide “victim” ,although most are not even conciously aware of that fact.Then again , the madman rarely knows of his illness either.
My wife and I often mention the fact that while growing up through the 1950s and 1960s we took much of it for granted even though people were being killed on the streets regularly , buildings were being bombed all the time and fully -armed policemen and soldiers were everywhere to be seen every day.Helicopters constantly beat a tattoo through the skies overhead.. day and night …..for years. Did we take it for granted? Did we take it as being a normal way to live? Mostly, we did ,after a while . People will get used to anything . Did it damage us ? Well, we talk about that too.”What do you mean by “damage” ?” , you might ask , in much the same way you’d say …What do you mean by “victim”? I was asked about that when I escaped to England to attend art college while the bombs were blasting through the workaday world of early 1970s downtown Belfast. Well going to art college seemed like a much better idea than continuing to work in an office in the middle of Belfast with the big crosses sellotaped over the glass -windows. “What was it like?”, they asked, having only experienced it on black and white television, from afar, themselves ? Oh …you know …was the reply…it was heavy….Heavy , huh? Yes …it was heavy, man…It weighed heavy….There are many times I’ve wondered since why I ever came back , but then, family can have a strong pull.
Recently it has been reported that proportionally twice as many people living here claim the Disability Living Allowance(DLA) than do those living in the UK.Many cite those “Troubles”as one reason for this ,but apparently the claims have gone up by 70 per cent since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement supposedly ended those specific “Troubles”, which is almost twenty years ago .In this very unique and insane place it seems that the benefits system has possibly become “unjustified and unsustainable” in some views. My position would be that these nebulous “Troubles” have existed for many hundreds of years and will probably forever continue because of the damages already inflicted to our sense of what we think of as “normality”.Others have linked this rise in benefit applications to the growing rise of mental illness. Well is it the chicken, or is it the egg? Did the Troubles beget the illness or did the illness beget the Troubles ?…and what started that ball rolling anyway?
So there you might have it in black and white ..We were possibly already a little insane due to our unique circumstances after generations of it and now it looks like we’re striving for that golden ring and a society, completely and irrevocably, totally insane.The statistics appear to be bearing this out.We are going insane at twice the rate of those living in the UK.
Me? I blame it on “the Troubles”…
Now …if we could just agree when they started exactly and just who was responsible for starting them…..