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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen,
Both when we wake and when we sleep.
--John Milton

Thoughts for the day

Some time ago I was arrogant enough to submit five two-minute scripts to a radio station. I’ll say no more about that but here they are.


A famous film director, Samual Goldwyn, whose first language was not English, caused much hilarity with utterances such as, “Bring on the empty horses” and “include me out”. But on one occasion such an expression had more than a grain of philosophy in it. It was “You shouldn’t predict anything, especially the future”.

We all frequently give God a good laugh when we loudly announce our plans. And we seldom learn when the chickens we counted fail to hatch out.

I still project, although I should have learned my lesson more than a quarter of a century ago.

It was my thirty-third birthday, January 10th, 1979 and I learned that my mother was in hospital and it appeared that she was near the end.

I was driving (a fairly decent car) along a country road to visit her when I started thinking, “My mother is going to die. I’ll be ” in bits” and I won’t be able to drive at her funeral . . .”

Being the intelligent animal that I am, I turned off the car-radio so that I could proceed, without distraction, with my intelligent planning about whom I would get to drive my car etc etc.

I hit a patch of frozen snow, lost control, ploughed into, a brand new, approaching BMW turning it over almost writing off my own car. Thank God nobody was injured. And I wasn’t ”in bits” when my mother died
. . . twelve years later.

* * * * * * *


“A private sin is not so prejudicial in this world as a public indecency”. So Cervantes said.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla later to become Pope John Paul 11 wrote that there is no such thing as a private sin.

In other words if our peace of mind is disrupted by our wrong-doings, (be they ever so “private”) other people will be affected. If I do something, which leads to shame, guilt or self-loathing, my consequent mindset will determine my behaviour towards others. If I am not at peace with myself how can I be at peace with my fellow man? If I don’t think much of myself this low opinion will manifest itself in uncaring and unacceptable behaviour which of course I will justify in many ways.

The term, “chip on the shoulder” is derived from faction fighting days, when our ancestors walked the streets of the local market-town on fair-days daring all comers to “knock off the chip”. But in this enlightened age our minds can be warped by our actions just as badly as in that bygone age. When the psychological abnormality brought about by behaviour, which we know to be, wrong prompts us to take it out on our neighbours we haven’t evolved beyond our shillelagh-wielding forebears. So I should ask myself how my resultant frame of mind will affect others before I embark on my “private sin”.

* * * * * * *


“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values”, the words of the Dahlia Lama.

I had quite a few decades under my belt when, one day, I looked at the contour of the hills surrounding my West Wicklow home and was struck by the thought that it was one of the few things in my life which hadn’t changed.

Of course there were changes which I should have made . . . but didn’t. We make many changes in our lives . . . not all of them constructive. Many of us are reluctant to change. We are unwilling to leave our comfort-zone, which is understandable, because we are comfortable there. But change is necessary if we are to survive; look at what happened to the dinosaurs. It is necessary to change as part of our human development and this, very often, means embarking on a journey through uncharted territory and being faced with the disapproval of others.

This can lead to a “I’ll stay where I am attitude” but if we are to look back most of the changes we made were preceded by feelings of discomfort. Recently a well-known journalist wrote in a prestigious newspaper,” a weak man’s changing is of no consequence”. Nothing could be further from the truth. A positive change in anybody’s life will prove beneficial to those around them. In the words of Cardinal Newman, “here below, to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”.

* * * * * * *


Pedigree is a much used word and is very important in the world of racehorses and greyhounds. But have we got too much faith in it when it comes to dealing with our fellow human beings? When a person steps out of line how often do you hear, “He didn’t lick it off the ground” or, “Sure what would you expect, wasn’t her mother the same”.

Such pronouncements, after the fact, can have some validity, but what about our negative predictions?

    “He’ll go off the rails, look at his uncle Mick”,
    “she’ll do such and such, trot mammy trot foal”.

Prejudice has been described as an opinion without visible means of support and many of our assertions about the future behaviour of our brothers certainly have glass legs.. To proclaim that just because a person’s father was a horse thief that they will mistake your equine stock for their own is, to say the least, unfair and it can, in some cases, prompt the subject to behave in the manner that he or she believes society expects them to behave.

It wouldn’t add to my peace of mind to learn that a particular criminal would have been a decent human being had I not, in the past, drawn attention to defects in his bloodline and made my sinister forecast based on them.

Perhaps it would be a good idea, in future, to drop the word pedigree from my lexicon. . . unless, of course, I am at Goffs or buying a greyhound pup.

* * * * * * *


“To understand all is to forgive all”.

The number of clichés we use about forgiveness is outnumbered only by how often we tell others to forgive when we ourselves are not the victims.

Of all the autobiographical accounts of abuse by servants of Church and State those of victims who have forgiven are the ones that seem to stand out. In the words of of Dag Hammarskjóld, " Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean."

William Blake said it is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend and I suppose it is. Which would make forgiveness of a friend even more Divine.

A supposedly wise man once said that the foolish neither forgive or forget, the naïve forgive and forget and the clever forgive but don’t forget. Be that as it may there is another sub-category to which I belong. When I manage to forgive someone I am not inclined to admit it to a third party.

When we ourselves commit a wrong we have no trouble, ostensibly anyway, understanding why we did it.

Well, we should try to understand all where our perceived tormenter is concerned and if we are as smart as we think we are we should have some success there. Then we can decide if we still want to persistently refuse to forgive or if we want to be forgiven as we forgive . . . those who trespass against us. Why am I talking about forgiveness?

Because I have been at the receiving end of It

* * * * * * *

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