The right response to life
Declan Coyle’s book dares us to be joyful and to respond to life’s setbacks with a positive attitude
Declan Coyle and with his wife, Annette, and three children.
Declan Coyle, a former Columban missionary, who is now a married father of three children including a nine-year-old boy with severe disabilities, has written a self-help book that challenges readers to dare to be positive.
The Green Platform provides the tools needed to make the cross over from the negative “red platform” to a place that is all about being in the moment and consciously choosing a response to life’s setbacks that has nothing to do with victimhood or blame.
Sixty-seven year old Coyle, who mentors sports and business people through his company, Andec Communications, admits that he had been “kind of against positive thinking. I felt it was an emerging aberration. I thought that we Irish are negative but at least we’re real. I didn’t quite get the positive thing.”
But now, after a sometimes tumultuous journey through life, Coyle says that “the single most revolutionary radical act we can commit in today’s world is to dare to be a joyful person, to dare to give children the idea that some adults are actually enjoying themselves.”
A turning point for Coyle was a crucial question that he was asked after returning from his missionary work. Coyle spent five years working in a slum in Zambales in the Philippines. There was an American naval base there.
Coyle says his parish had 16,000 prostitutes in it, selling sex to members of the Navy. He describes the slums he worked in as “horrific”. “The conditions were totally other than what I had expected. In one 90-day period, I buried 65 children under the age of two who had died from hunger-related diseases.”
Coyle learned to speak Chinese when he was sent to the missions in Taipei and Shinchu in Taiwan.
“The idea was that I would bring the good news to the poor. But it ended up that the people there were the ones who evangelised me. Even in their poverty, there was richness in these people.”
But it was when a Jesuit priest spoke to Coyle about his time in the Philippines that he was forced to change his world view. Coyle had done much work around justice in the Philippines, raising awareness and helping to set up co-operative credit unions and sewing machine projects.
Fr Denis Murphy congratulated him on his work but asked him if he was now a happier man or an angrier and bitter person.
“I said that without a doubt, I was angrier and bitter. Fr Denis said that before I go back, I should realise the last thing people in the slums need is another very serious bad-tempered man.
“He said that if I don’t bring joy, laughter and happiness to the people, whatever else I do doesn’t matter. That set me thinking.”