There’s a bug going around at the moment. It’s highly contagious and very easy to catch. You can get it on a barstool or even at your office desk. It can be passed on at the tills in Tesco or between parents huddled at the side of a pitch. This disease is very dangerous and represents a threat to our very way of life.
In his autobiographical work, The Confessions of St Augustine, the 4th Century Bishop wrote: “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity”. It was a plea against learning for the sake of learning. It was a way of telling the faithful that God has all the answers. Gods soldiers on earth can give you all the guidance you need and that to seek out other answers was to undermine God and be dragged into temptations that will corrupt the soul.
Change, as they say, comes dripping slow. Even today, when we have the information at our fingertips. In a world where smartphones can confirm or refute my claims with a few simple clicks. We have the means to see through the fog of banal reportage. We have an inherent curiosity. For example, we know that just because every damn article on the Irish involvement in the Panama Papers tells us “the accounts were not illegal”, that that does not make it okay.
Systemic parasitic corruption holds power across the globe. You don’t have to read the 11.5 million documents in the Panama Papers to see this. It’s right there in front of your face. It’s in how members of the energy industry (think B.P, EDF Energy, Npower and Centrica) have 11 times more meetings with the British Government than Environmentally Friendly Green Groups. Hell, the Guardian reported that “at least 50 employees of these companies have been placed within the government. The staff are provided FREE of charge”. But they don’t want you to know that.
It’s in how Whistleblowers are demonised, discredited and marginalised. Who among you was aware that when the European Parliament symbolically voted to drop charges against Edward Snowden, every Fine Gael MEP voted to have them remain? They lost. But they don’t want you to know that.
We suppress the memory of how the Charismatic and Handsome media darling, Leo Varadkar, attacked and discredited the courageous Dr Jim Gray, for drawing attention to the near war zone levels of care in our health service. War zone is not me been sensationalist, Ireland’s health service recently ranked just above the Ukraine’s, an actual war zone. But they don’t want you to know that.
Nobody talks about (or is allowed to talk about?) the Unicredit Bank Whistleblower, Jonathan Sugarman, who in 2007 informed the Irish Financial Regulator of serious liquidity breaches only to be ignored. Needless to say this information was not deemed important at the time and was not important enough even after the crash for the “Banking Inquiry”. Mr Sugarman has met with indifference, hostility and contempt from Irish officialdom. They really don’t want you to know his story.
Then we could talk about the concerns that the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have about the control of media by REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED. But they don’t want you to know that.
We can note that US Multinationals employ 613,000 people in Germany based on $115bn of outward Foreign Direct Investment(FDI). We can contrast that with 135,000 jobs in Ireland based on an outward FDI of over $311bn. We could ask ourselves why so few jobs compared to the less “profitable” countries? We might even guess that some sort of dodgy tax dealings are behind it. But we mustn’t express that thought. Not unless we want to be demonised, discredited and marginalised. Don’t want to be accused of not “wearing the green jersey”.
Or, we could ignore St Augustine and the threats to our immortal souls. We could scratch that itch caused by the Disease of Curiosity. In fact, we must scratch it. Without curiosity there can be no progress. Without Whistleblowers like Snowden, Assange, Gray, Sugarman and Manning, dirty deeds would go totally unchecked (as opposed to tacitly approved) and progress would halt.
So the onus is on you really. Be curious. Spread the disease. There’s no lack of people out there that might catch it. Point and prod the banal reportage. Question in who’s interests the latest fad is. Tell your friends to do the same. You might be doing them a favour. And if you’re met with indifference, hostility and contempt, look them in the eye and sing “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant” and walk on by.
There’s many more souls to be saved.
Tony Groves April 2016