FEET OF CLAY

craig what we have we hold

DO WE NEED TO ERECT MONUMENTS OR PLAYPARKS  TO OUR HEROES?

Do we need to rethink our ideas about heroes in Norneverland ? It’s a question that has recently exercised my mind  and has become something of  a very emotive and divisive rallying call here. It’s already affecting our social relationships, in this still  very divided society.You’d think we could see this through new eyes.

Yes , I know people love their heroes. There are sports stars that children will want to emulate.That sportsman might be the man or woman who  will set someone on a quest for their own sporting destiny. It may be the spur that makes someone a future champion runner or ice-skater. There are writers who inspire with their eloquent descriptions and poets who tease out the lessons of love,loss and place, and in doing so,  allow their readers to dream anew.. Who hasn’t wanted to be a guitar player after experiencing the beauty of a Django ,a Jansch or a Jimi. Heroes are inspirational figures who allow another generation to dream newer dreams. They are our giants ,upon whose shoulders,  new inspirations are built. In short order  I wanted to be some sort of a writer , musician or an artist  when I was a teenager . I say …”some sort”. It didn’t necessarily follow that I’d be famous on a world scale or  want to be …or be  especially very good. Those kind of aspirations  only reach fruition  and blossom in  the very few . For the most part ,all that hard work and talent, might result in very little, unless a lot of luck, help ,promotion or assistance is also involved.

Most people continue to take their talent or hard work…and pursue that dream in a more modest pool. Others’ reveries  may include a  Muhammed Ali or  a Georgie Best.  They maybe fantasise  of actually  “being” their heroes in their slumber….scoring that phantom winning  goal and basking in the adulation of of a yipping , adoring crowd. It’s the way we are made.There are quieter heroes , of course, like the local barber who puts all his effort into charity work.He will be appreciated , but few will erect a statue  in his memory .He might be lucky to get his photograph in the local paper.

We also like to put our heroes on pedestals too . Bearing in mind that all of our heroes are mere mortals and mostly have human failings and certainly feet of earth- bound clay, this can sometimes be a very divisive idea. It’s one of the curious facts of life that you are more likely to be immortalised nationally for doing some warlike endeavour rather than for curing cancer or for discovering the DNA helix. Sometimes  someone as divisive  as  a politician , a gunrunner ,or some  soldier  can be elevated  to esteemed heights of glory.

Recently there has been quite a furore about a childrens’ playpark being named after  a Republican Hunger Striker .This did not sit well with many Unionists and many non-Republican Nationalists , alike.Some nationalists and probably some far -thinking republicans might find an action like that counter-productive for their future dreams of a  truly united Ireland. It was very obviously going to be seen as divisive in such a polarised society. Put plainly, it was going to be a playpark for only republican children and everyone else could take a hop, step and jump. That is hardly fair and equitable behaviour, is it? Of course it’s been pointed out that towns , cities and streets have been named after specific heroes or ancient battles harking back to Britain’s days of Empire  and were seen by  a great many of the population  as utterly one-sided and divisive, too . There are plenty of statues that reflect on a pro-British outlook alone.

In 1965 ,a few mere  years before the first Civil Rights March in Norneverland , a proposed “New City “was named after James Craig , Norneverland’s first Prime Minister .It was called Craigavon. Craig , the scion of distillers  known for their brewing of the Devil’s Buttermilk , became a  Whiskey Millionaire .He had a chequered history which included rallying the Ulster Unionist opposition ,prior to World War One to oppose  Home Rule in Ulster. He organised an illegal paramilitary unit called the Ulster Volunteer Force {UVF} and bought and smuggled arms from Germany, Britain’s future enemy in the war. These arms were to fight against Britain if the unionists didn’t get what they wanted politically. They were quite prepared to fight against the King and His Government.. The guns were eventually used against their German suppliers in the Great War shortly thereafter .  You might say that the birth of Norneverland was the prize for once again playing the turncoat and supporting Britain’s war effort.To many in Ireland this man was anything but a hero and so it still remains ,one hundred years later. The “New City” , which never really fully developed ,was still named after him…a Whiskey Terrorist.

So much for heroes and  heroics.

Of course none of this excuses the tit -for -tat naming of streets , parks and the like after dubious “heroes” of either stripe. It could be imagined though that the old saw “Two wrongs Don’t Make A Right”  could have been studied a little more carefully if we are ever to have a civilised “united” country. If republicans really wanted to prepare the ground for a  viable future republic of equals , you’d imagine they’d not want to repeat the mistakes of their foolish pro- British unionist   predecessors and would  call their play parks after something innocuous like  a Nursery Rhyme character….something that nobody could complain about.

Of course , even innocuous Nursery Rhymes have their origins in ancient tales of horror  or politics,in many cases….but that’s for another story…

Let’s not go there right now…..I’ll talk about it presently….

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