The walk from my office to the tram home takes me through the city of Dublin. It’s not normally particularly pleasant but yesterday was “unpleasant-times-ten”.
I’m intolerant at the best of times – hate when people walk slowly in front of me, hate traffic, hate waiting three minutes for a tram (why can’t they just leave when I step on – would cheer me up no end). Yesterday I was experiencing the height of intolerance.
Like any major event, St Leprechaun Day tends to bring out the best and worst of people. On the positive side are the happy families and the good ‘naturedness’ of people in the main.
But on the negative side, societys dregs – drunk, loud, aggressive young men in large groups, intimidating people by their very presence. They scuttle along in their shiny tracksuits and stolen trainers, making sure everyone can hear their point of view – normally just some expletive-filled bs about some ‘bird’ they pulled the night before in a scum-laden nightclub that resembles ‘Fight Club’ by 3am.
I walked by a group of four toe-rags, one of them drinking beer from a plastic bottle, one of the girls shouting (‘knackers’, as we call them, always shout) about the schedule she has for taking her pills (these pills obviously are not a cure for poor elocution). In the same spot the previous week a fat bloke and his horrendous-looking missus were walking by me when he fixed me a stare and said ‘do you want a fight?’.
There’s only so much sympathy you can have for the human plight. My dad would say that these people behave in an anti-social way because ‘it is all they know’. But if I’m getting my face stitched up in A&E at 4am because one of these anti-social criminals thought I’ve looked at him funny, at what point do I stop sympathising? At what point do we, law-abiding and decent citizens, the ones who supplement many of these people’s existence through social welfare payments, say enough is enough?
I’m not under the illusion that the under-privileged are the only ones who behave in an anti-social way or commit crimes. There have been several cases of ‘rich kids’ going wrong too committing assaults or establishing crime gangs. But crime statistics from many countries will show that it is the under-privileged (whether it be division by ethnic class or social class) who are responsible for the large majority of violent or drug-related crime.
We have a large number of immigrants in Ireland. Over the last 5-10 years, many people have come from Southeast Asia and war-torn nations in North Africa and Eastern Europe to live in our country – many of them legally, many more illegally. Yesterday it was a pleasure to see so many non-nationals out enjoying themselves, decked in the “green, white and gold”, mixing with Irish people and lending a unique feel to the experience of St Patrick’s Day.
And as I walked through the city I came up with the idea of the largest ever human-exchange program. It would be like the one you had at school where you would spend three months in Paris one summer, followed by some French lad living with you the following year. Except on this Permanent Human Exchange Program, we would send our embarrassing, violent, drunken louts out to war zones in Darfur or Kosovo, in exchange for the innocent victims of the horrific campaigns in those respective countries. I have a feeling that it might be considered mutually beneficial.