Another Referendum

We have another referendum approaching and we have the opportunity to make our opinions count. I have always felt that it is important to vote. There have been times when I truly wonder whether it really makes any difference to vote, the same policies seem to be in place no matter which of the parties get in however I will not give in to disinterest or frustration, I will always exercise my right to vote no matter how disillusioned I feel.

If everybody who really feels disenfranchised were to become engaged and vote then perhaps things would finally change – I live in hope!

I have copied here a blog piece by John Perkins, writer of The Economic Hitman, I think it’s worth a read.

Ireland’s Referendum- an Opportunity for Change

On May 31 Ireland will put the EU’s new treaty for fiscal discipline to a referendum, giving Irish voters a chance to overturn this controversial agreement. The crisis in Ireland is symbolic of ones facing many European countries, as well as the United States, and is a direct outgrowth of policies implemented against developing countries when I was an economic hit man (EHM). The upcoming decision by Irish citizens is a harbinger for other countries around the world, as well as crucial to Ireland’s financial future.

If voters agree to sign this treaty for fiscal discipline, it will obligate Ireland to run low government deficits and maintain drastically reduced levels of public debt; in other words, the country will be forced to implement even stricter austerity measures on its already beleaguered citizens. It is important to remember that Dublin accepted international aid in 2010 in order to deal with a huge budget deficit brought on by the previous government’s pledge to bail out Irish banks for billions of dollars in bad loans. The Irish Government has been “asset stripping” –selling off public resources, including gas from the west coast, utilities, and forests in attempts to reduce the debt. This is an old tactic that was perfected by economic hit men in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s. Many Irish are vehemently protesting such acts and are opposed to signing the EU treaty, declaring them a loss of sovereignty for a nation that fought a bloody battle for full independence less than a century ago.

The Awaken Ireland Movement is an example of an approach aimed at empowering the people to create a different future, bringing the people together in a community-based grassroots movement to share information on viable alternatives and to encourage conversations towards a vision for a better future. The challenge will be to base the movement on formulating realistic solutions at local levels in ways that respect differences and allow a voice for the many. Austerity measures are killing the European economy. Not surprisingly Goldman Sachs and other investment organizations are at the root of the problem; they are strategically staffing Europe’s government and the Central Bank with hard-hearted investment bankers more interested in the concerns of the financial sector than those of the people. These ex-European Commissioners and former central bankers are helping the banks gain access to those in power.

What the frack is going on?

I don’t tend towards exageration however I have to say that we are on the edge of environmental disaster here in the North West of Ireland. We are about to allow a few large shale gas mining corporations, using hydraulic fracturing drilling methods, to waltz in here and destroy our watertables, our aquifers – in fact we have given them licence to do just that, we have given them a licence to frack our local environment.

I know that we have been asleep, these licences were given some time ago and most of us never noticed. I know now that in many parts of the world ordinary people have had their lives disrupted, their farms destroyed, their livestock sickened and their own health damaged by shale gas extraction in their areas.

Rivers, streams, ponds and lakes have been damaged so that fish and other aquatic wildlife die. Watertables are damaged so that drinking water wells are now unusable, people are having to buy bottled water in order to cook, wash, water their vegetables, water their livestock etc. In some areas the tap water has become inflammeable – you can light it on fire!

The threat to our environment is overwhelming in scale and I am having great difficulty in coping with this new element in my life. In the past I was a very angry teenager and young woman, in my twenties and early thrities I was able channel that anger through involvement in certain environmental and community activism. To be an activist I found that the anger I felt was put to good use, it was useful to be angry, it gave me the energy to be commited in campaign work, it helped me to feel motivated and I was passionate about the issues in which I was involved.

Everything changed in my mid-thirties, my life was thrown upside down and I began to work on myself, I began to heal the anger. It was a long and hard journey at first and as anyone who has been on a recovery or healing path knows – nothing remains the same, the pain eased and the anger became explained, I could see why it was there and I could work on not needing or feeding it anymore. I am still on that path, I still work hard at being emtionally healthy, having healthy relationships with myself and others.

Now I have a life partner and we are making a home for ourselves in a beautiful unspoilt part of rural Ireland. We are building our home using our own hands and constantly learning new skills along the way, both life-skills and building skills. I am fortunate in having soul sisters (the word friends doesn’t quite cut it), with whom I have very good relationships and we support each other in very honest and gentle ways- that took hard work too. I have a life that I never dreamt possible, it’s a simple life, it’s not easy, we have very little money and face many challenges and I would not change it for all the money in the world.

It has changed now.

These changes are outside my control – as life is. I need to find a way to challenge what is happening to our environment without loosing myself. I don’t want to go back to living with anger in every cell in my body, I have to find a way to live with what is happening and how I feel about it without becoming lost in it.

I have a lot of work to do…