Revenge, fish peducures, throwing 'digs' at the Spire and counting your blessings. Seven people suggest weird, wonderful and practical ways to get Ireland through the tough times.
PJ Gallagher, comedian
I can’t wait until election time, not because I want to vote, but so I can chase politicians down the street. It could be a new national pastime. I posted my first joke on Twitter recently: What do you do if you see a canvassing politician at your door? Stop laughing and reload.
The first 10 feet of the Spire could be padded and it could be used as a National Diggin’ Centre. Dublin City Council could give out free boxing gloves and people could line up to give it a few digs to get their frustrations out. They could have giving-out conferences in local parish halls. You’d have to make sure everyone knows it’s going to achieve absolutely nothing – it’s just blowing off steam – but you could stand up and give out about the Government, the country, your cousin, anything you want.
At this stage there’s no point in people saying, “cheer up it might never happen”, because it already did, so you may as well get out and enjoy yourself. I like spending time outside walking the dog and I do a lot of cycling. When life is full of panic, you need to take a breath of fresh air. Mind you, I panic every day. I even panic about how to get my socks on without injuring myself.
Fr Enda McDonagh, retired professor of moral theology
Of course we have to hold those who led us into this mess accountable, whether it be the State or the Church, but blame and anger will only take you so far. As well as the four-year economic plan, we could have a four-year citizen plan. We have to renew a sense of citizenship among people and encourage them to get involved in groups and activities at local, regional, and national level to help the poor and less resourceful through voluntary effort.
We should be thinking of starting to develop a new Republic where everyone, including the young, resourceful and imaginative, get involved to energise the community and promote a richer cultural life.
There could be a charter of citizenship pledges, an inspirational document or a statement of ideas which would reawaken our moral sense of what it is to be a citizen in Ireland. We need to work out how to develop a society of common good where the freedom and equality of citizens is fully reflected.
The Church has to renew itself and inspire its own members into citizenship and help to re-invigorate the whole country.
Arthur Matthews, comedy writer and actor
Some kind of revenge, no matter how mild, on the bankers and politicians would surely make the disgruntled public feel a bit better about things. I would suggest that designated hit squads break into the bedrooms of every banker and Fianna Fáil politician at night and tie their shoelaces together, so that when they attempt to stand up the next morning, they suffer an undignified fall. (Kind of metaphorical for Ireland, too.)
A gesture from Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen would also be nice. Perhaps they could literally – and I literally mean literally – wear sack cloth and ashes for the rest of their lives. A particularly rough sack cloth for Bertie (which would cause uncomfortable chafing and lead to a permanent rash in the shape of Ireland which would forever remind him of the country’s misfortunes) would be jolly nice.
Emma Murphy, psychotherapist, Sandyford Wellness Centre
If I was to offer some practical advice to help people who are being overwhelmed by all the negativity and bad news, it would be not to listen to it at all. It’s hard to avoid, it’s pervasive, but I would say if you’re feeling freaked out by it all, don’t watch the nine o’clock news and certainly don’t watch analysis programmes where every worst-case scenario is explored – it won’t help.
We see people at our centre who are projecting into the future, and are panicking about what will happen. This kind of panic is wasted energy.
Taking charge of the situation is the single, best, most effective way of reducing your anxiety and stress and taking back some of your control. If you know you are close to, or in, financial difficulty, then sit down and work out a plan with your partner, talk to your bank or mortgage holder or go to Mabs, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, if you can’t work it out for yourselves.
Niamh O’Reilly, editor of online magazine beautycouture.ie
If I had to prescribe just one thing to help us get through the tough times it would have to be the fish pedicure. It involves tiny fish nibbling the dead skin from your feet – a bit like a scene from Piranha – but thankfully, unlike the Budget, it’s painless and leaves your feet like new.
So why would it get us through the recession? It will prepare our feet for all the footwork we will have to do in the next few years – whether it be on all the protest marches or giving the politicians a good kicking in the polls.
Second on my list would be a hot stone massage, great for soothing aching muscles from all that banner-waving – and the hot stones might just come in handy if things turn ugly. And when things get really bad, who amongst us won’t want to just lie down, and pretend we’re not in massive debt?
Elaine Bradley, CEO, Volunteering Ireland
Volunteering is an antidote to negativity, hopelessness and inertia, and studies have shown it has a positive effect on self-esteem and helps combat depression and stress. More people are finding themselves with time on their hands due to redundancy, and it’s been a godsend for community and voluntary organisations that are feeling the effects of funding cuts.
It isn’t just about social care, it’s also about helping with sports, community arts and the environment. The benefits of serving others include connecting with neighbours and the wider community, learning new skills and widening your experience and perspectives. In general, volunteers are “can do” people, who know that they can make a difference. What could be more affirming and empowering in such challenging times?
As 2011 is European Year of Volunteering there will be limitless opportunities to get involved. So go and volunteer – it’s good for your health!
Art is an escape and when life get tough it’s good to take a few hours out to visit a gallery, soak it all up and leave with a different perspective. The fact that the galleries are free is another incentive.
My exhibition in November was based on my mother’s passing two years ago. She used to say your health is your wealth and it’s a great message. Once you have your health most problems can be solved with a bit of willpower, hard work and thinking outside the box. It helps to put yourself in situations you wouldn’t normally be in to get the brain moving and thinking of new ideas.
When someone close to you passes away, you get perspective on life and I decided I was going to stop moaning about the things I can’t have or change. I appreciate every morning I wake up and can see my kids.
For anyone who doesn’t feel like struggling through the hard times, I think the Government should provide free cryogenic freezing. They’ve made such a mess of the country that the least they can do is offer to freeze our bodies for four years so that when we wake up it’s all over.