Belfast Telegraph

Why finding out what really matters in life gets my vote

By Nuala McKeever

They say Comedy = Tragedy + Time. Is it too soon after the elections to make some less than serious comments yet? Like the SDLP candidate in Derry who withdrew from the party after it stopped backing him for reasons and allegations that don't need to be gone into here. It was just something he said that struck me as amusing. He was disgusted at how he'd been treated since he and all his family have worked for years for the party. "Everything in our house is SDLP," he said.

Everything? I'd love to see that house.

Are there John Hume tea towels? A Margaret Ritchie speaking alarm clock? An Alasdair McDonnell toilet brush? Or an Alex Attwood-shaped cat flap?

And then there's the big billboard telling us they're Standing up for Northern Ireland. Against whom? Against what? An invasion of boring slogan-writers? Too late, I think we've cornered the market in that one this time round. "Aim High, Vote Lo" might have been amusing the first time someone said it, but not sure that level of quip comes across as responsible when it's put forward as a serious strapline for an election.

The big billboard got me thinking (partly thinking that Diane Dodds looks decidedly like Mary McAleese at first glance. Power[dressing]-sharing at last?) but mostly thinking, "Standing up for Northern Ireland", what's the point of that? It seems pretty irrelevant, when you step back a little.

We're only here for sixty or seventy years. Some of us are only here for four or five. And we choose to put our energy into what divides us, rather than what we are. We put our energy into being offended by what other people are doing, as opposed to putting it into experiencing who we're being and what's possible. Trees don't know they're in Northern Ireland. Neither do the Mourne Mountains. They get by okay. We could become more like a tree or a mountain, in the not having to label every single feeling, thought, emotion and experience as "good" or "bad".

I pull up to a road junction to turn right. There are cars coming, so I have to stop. Immediately I register "They shouldn't be there". Not literally, but when you actually think about it, that's what's going on. Some kind of negative response to what's so. "This shouldn't be like this". And that takes energy to keep that negative reaction force going.

The Negative Reaction Force – The NRF. That's one kind of paramilitary subgroup that pertains on all 'sides' here. Really, life is about a lot more than that.

Collectively we seem incapable of expressing joy. I remember a politician telling me years ago: "Well you can't go on TV and be laughing and joking when people are being killed." As if that were the only alternative to being aggressive and finger-pointing.

In fact, maybe if there was more laughing and joking people mightn't BE killed so much.

If there was a lightness of spirit about things. If there was less taking everything so seriously and earnestly. I'm not saying things don't matter, they do. It's just noticing how much energy we put into things that really aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. Things like national identity and big salaries. It's only because we make them important that they're important. They don't really have any importance of their own.

We vote every day, every moment, every time we make a choice to add to the overall positive bank account or its opposite.

There's a chance to vote well and often. Let's take it.

New party, but same old story

NI21. We thought the 21 was a reference to the century the party was born in, but perhaps it’s closer to reflecting the number of diverging opinions within its own executive about what their baseline policies actually are.

Marry in haste, repent at leisure? Whom among us hasn’t felt the heady rush of love at the start of a relationship and not been able to say for sure at first if it’s the real thing or simply infatuation, with each person falling in love with what they WANT the other person to be.

No doubt we need fresh politics here. But it has to be with integrity.

Here comes the sun ... we hope

What you up to this late Spring Bank Holiday?

Breaking out of the winter woollies and slipping into your summer duffle coats to bask in the balmy double figures?

Wow! We could get used to this!

Only having the heat on for a few hours in the evening; venturing out without a brolly, thinking, “What the heck! My phone says there’s only a 65% chance of precipitation, I’m gonna live dangerously!”; gazing nostalgically at the shop dummies sporting shorts and swimwear and comforting yourself with the thought that the sun is like an NI21 policy agreement — just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

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