The Heart of this Nation has grown Coarse

“You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
See and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse.”

That is taken from the prophet Isaiah, and quoted by Jesus in the gospel of today’s Mass readings. Reading it, I couldn’t help but feel how apt it is for Ireland at the present time.
Our public discourse has become increasingly coarse over recent years. This is very obviously so in our national parliament, so much so that a committee is now being brought together to see if there is any way of putting some rein on what is being said under privilege in the Dail chamber and in the committee rooms. The normal standards of behaviour and codes of decency, the recognition that there are things you should not say about another person who is not there to defend themselves, which were accepted by all members of the Dail for the past one hundred years, are no longer recognised by some. As a result it is now common to have peoples’ names publicly slandered in parliament or in certain of the Dail committees, where under present rules they have no way of getting redress.
Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I also think that having public representatives appearing in the Dail chamber in a very unkempt state of dress further serves to coarsen the institution. And what happens in parliament does effect the quality of life of the nation as a whole.
Outside of the parliament, many public representatives speak and behave badly. The Jobstown saga, both the event itself and aspects of the twelve week trial, left a lot to be desired. At a time when climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity, the whole water charges debacle, which was used by many as a political football, with total disregard for the seriousness of the underlying issues, was particularly depressing. Recent days have shown that we are beginning to reap that particular whirlwind, and there will be more to come.
Of course the example we are getting from politicians both across the Irish Sea and the Atlantic are no help.
Media too has become more coarse. We are familiar for many years with the coarseness of the tabloid press, but increasingly even the supposedly respectable news outlets are descending to the same level. Cynicism, the half sister of coarseness, is rampant. The effect of this constant outpouring of cynicism is to spread the notion among the general populace that all public respresentatives are corrupt, and only interested in what they can get for themselves. This leads to a serious lessening of trust in the democratic process, which leads directly to the sort of chaotic situations we see in many countries today.

Appealing to Christian values is no longer credible in this country. But maybe what we are lacking is something more fundamental even than that — ordinary human decency, respect for each other, care for creation, working together as communities and as society for the good of all.
To go back to my initial quote, what we need is:
To listen and listen, and to understand,
To see and see, and to perceive.

If we can learn to do that, then maybe (if I can be excused for using a traditional religious word) we will be converted, and live.