October 10th, 1946
FROM THE ARCHIVES:Eamon de Valera, in government since 1932, was concerned that the country was losing its soul by 1946 and upset by strikes, as he told that year’s Fianna Fáil ard fheis.
MR DE VALERA spoke of the very dangerous situation in which the country was on account of the complex organisation of society and the fact that one section virtually could deny the means of living to other sections – for a time, at any rate.
“The fact that that grip is there,” he said, “is used by each one of the sections to compel the other to give them what they want.”
“One of the things that will determine in the future whether we are going to progress or not depends upon our intelligence, our character, our appreciation of the complex facts of modern society and our unselfishness in our attitude towards it.”
Mr de Valera said that next year they would be celebrating the twenty-first anniversary of the organisation. Welcoming the young people into the organisation, he said the nation belonged to the young, and it was good to see them interested in the future of the nation, whether they belonged to that organisation or any other organisation.
He had noticed one thing that the younger people were anxious about – that was that some of the older organisations seemed to be devoting too much time to what they called material things. They were right in that. It was essential for them as a nation to give attention to the things of the soul and the mind. He hoped their organisation would never neglect the things of the spirit.
He was almost afraid to talk about education, but he would like to say what a store their people placed on education in the past, because it was the avenue to the higher things they craved for.
“It would be a desperate thing,” said Mr de Valera, “if having got freedom for this part of the country we were to lose that very fine characteristic of our people which makes them a spiritual race, and which is one of our boasts – that we are one of the spiritual nations of the world. We should not lose that no matter what material things we gain. “There is a wonderful opportunity before this country,” Mr de Valera said, “if we are able to take advantage of it. We are better placed than most countries at the present time [just after the Second World War]. We have advantages which these countries have not got, and the whole question is – will we take advantage of them? Have we the enterprise, the energy, the willingness to work, and the co-operation that will enable us to make use of these advantages.
“If we are able to work together as a community, so that each individual in it and each section will be thinking not merely of his own particular interests as the interests of the whole lot, then we are going to make great progress.
“To-day that requires a great deal of intelligence-to be willing to subordinate a person’s pride for the moment or the interests of one’s section in the interest of the community as a whole.”