Senin, 13 Februari 2012

The Cliffs of Moher

Last Tuesday I boarded a plane at JFK for Orlando, Florida. My two travel companions, AP and his financier Jerry Mumbels, were attending a builders' convention. I was just along for the ride. My seat had been reserved as an after-thought and I was seated by the window in the rear of the plane. The man next to me was about my age. We nodded a weary hello. This flight had been held for a half-hour, so travelers from the UK could make their connection."Where you coming from?""Ireland," he explained how it was cheaper to fly from Dublin to London to JFK than Shannon-JFK direct. "If my wife had been with me, then I would have taken the Shannon flight. Women don't like connections.""I flew from Luxembourg via Paris to JFK. The Heathrow-JFK leg of the flight was $300 more than my roundtrip ticket." I had been planning on flying one-way from Dusseldorf, until Jerry Mumbels offered to purchase my ticket. Sometimes the wealthy have good hearts. "Are you retired in Ireland?" I'm one of the few men my age and class needing to work."No, I'm working at a help center in Cork." He shook his head. "I thought it was going to be an easy job, but we've been dealing with an explosion of suicides.""I read the same in the Guardian." The collapse of the Irish economy had driven a nail of despair into the heart of the nation. "Mostly young men.""Between 16 and 40. We get about twenty calls a day and at least ten suicides a week in Cork and the government refuses to publish the real figures. They are predicting 1000 for this year. A 50% increase over the previous year, but the figures from my office and those around the country paint a very dire picture.""Because they have no hope." Ireland had been on a credit binge. The national debt had led the government to cut aid to all sectors of society except the banks."None at all. Many of the boys I speak with haven't ever had a job and there is no light on the horizon. Russia, Greece, and Spain are suffering similar spikes in suicide and all I hear from the government is more cuts and more cuts.""Damn." I had been in the West of Ireland. The oldest son inherits the farm and the rest of the boys hit the road to Galway or other cities in Ireland or beyond. That safety valve is gone. "I wish you luck over there.""We need luck and not the luck of the Irish."We bad good-bye at the airport in Orlando. The fat Americans seemed untouched by the economic crisis strangling the world economy. Maybe they were better at putting on a brave face. I didn't mention my conversation to AP and Jerry Mumbels. They had their own problems, but once I got to the hotel I went on line to check on the facts as presented by the Irish reported that a suicide prevention group had 'received over 33,000 pleas for help in the past 12 months as the suicide rate rises dramatically.' and that 'police are watching known suicide spots like the quays in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.''Corkman Pat Buckley, founder of the charity Let’s Get Together, told the Independent, "The problem with the suicide statistics is that they take about two years to compile and even then they are relatively inaccurate and under-report the true scale of the problem. The problem is now so serious it is terrifying. We’ve battled to raise $7,000 in funds and it was spent on counselling in just a few weeks over November and December.” Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch revealed in the Dáil, “The increase is mainly in men in the middle-age group, however, we are also seeing a rise in the number of women dying by suicide, although the numbers are still significantly lower than in men."The State recognizes the seriousness of the problem.The IMF and banks do not care about these people.They think that they are weak links in the mesh of society.Until they too find themselves on the Cliffs of Mohar.The drop tells the truth.

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