Cages Of Our Own Making

October 16, 2021


Yes. These last few posts have been a bit nostalgic and they reflect a longing for the wisdom of past knowing of how to be in right relationship with community. And I know the wisdom of this that is embedded in Irish heritage is not perfect nor perfectly applied today. But it does offer inspiration for those of us who hold an aspiration for a kinder and gentler energy to run through our communities that seem so much in the grip of anger and despair.

So I offer one more reflection from Joe McGowan. 

We may look back on thatching and thatched houses with nostalgia, but how many who were part of that world would want to swap slate for thatch and return to the simpler way of life? Why do we regret losing something we don’t really want? Why do we long for a way of life we wouldn’t return to: an austerity that was sustained by penury, not by anyone’s wish for it to be so? What is it that attracts us to open fields, dangerous seas and rustic hearths, despite remembered toil and discomfort? 

Perhaps we miss the intimacy of a society where neighbours depended on each other, needed each other. Unrelenting elements and never-ending work did not prevent the older generations from putting down sheaf, spade or bucket to exchange banter and conversation with a neighbour, or a stranger. Mechanisation of labour, automatic appliances and jet travel have not bought us more time. They have increased the pace, stolen the serenity. 

An elderly neighbor, Gorgie McLoughlin, spoke to me one day of the lack of friendly contact in modern living. Neighbors who once stopped to chat when passing on foot or by ass and cart now waved from speeding cars. ‘Ah, I don’t know who they are half the time,’ he said wistfully. ‘They look to me like birds in cages flying by.’

Birds in cages we are indeed, in the cages of our own making.

Cages. We make them. We can escape them.

Judith –