Them and us. Us and them.
Or another way of looking at it, why should I care about “them”, since they don’t care about “us”?
Oh yes, the seeds of division and cohesion are planted early in our lives. By ourselves and others.
We grow up with this vague notion there is a “them” out there hogging all the good stuff, and a poor “us” who have to make do with what is left.
But what if it’s all about perception: the “them” is actually “us”? We are actually them, sometimes, and sometimes us. Depending on your perspective.
But really, “them” and “us” might be more usefully broken down into “you” and “me”.
Just people. Me and you. You and me. And maybe we can actually work together, as people, to make this a better place?
How often do we stop to consider that the big old world out there is actually shaped by our prevailing attitudes, or by a whole bunch of bullshit prejudices?
What if we actually took responsibility for our lives, worked on ourselves, and with others, to improve things.
Not sit back and moan, or wait for governments or “them” to do it all for us.
Because there is no “them”, and no “us”.
Just me and you. And you and me
Maybe if we did take responsibility, we might not feel so alienated from the world of them and us we think we live in.
Like the guy in Pink Floyd’s Us and Them.
Us and them
And after all we’re only ordinary men
Me and you
God only knows
It’s not what we would choose to do
You know the feeling, you pick up a newspaper and it confirms your worst suspicions: this planet’s a mess, ready to blow.
But never mind, Reese Witherspoon is really excited about appearing in Legally Blonde 3 …
The stories we read about ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves.
All stories. Fun, illuminating, but fake, really.
Us and them scenarios abound: the bad things in life are caused by bad people; one-eyed neighbours who always blame your kid, manipulative politicians, greedy bankers, incompetent local councils, heartless landlords hiking up rents.
Them and Us. Us and them.
The “them” that are screwing up my life, and the “us” that are fooled, fobbed off, or just plain fecked around
But, again, what if it’s just me and you, and we talk about it? Work something out. Together?
The other day I was listening to a talk radio item about how surging rents were preventing people from getting affordable leases in the places they want to live in. And this was happening all over Ireland.
Then they talked specifically about Dingle, the beautiful seaside resort on the wild Atlantic in stunning southwest County Kerry.
A woman was complaining how her landlord had hiked up her rent and she and her family had to move out and now couldn’t afford to lease in the town.
And Airbnb was the cause of it all, we were soon told.
Dingle is full of holiday homes and apartments, occupied by tourists or seasonal workers.
Before, the owners did well renting out these properties but now, with Airbnb, they can make in one night what they could make in a week before.
So rental accommodation is gold there and the price of holiday properties and apartments has shot up.
Oh those villainous landlords, screwing the less fortunate.
But then a man came on. He worked as a tour bus driver and owned an apartment and a house in Dingle.
Calmly he told the talk show host that, yes, he was making good money through Airbnb.
Because of the nature of his work he was in a position to rent out both his apartment and his property in the town for the summer.
He went on to say that he could see the two sides of the argument.
He also had friends in the town, he said, with businesses and their seasonal workers were finding it nigh impossible to rent in the town.
So, he went on, “Before, I could get rent of a hundred or two hundred euro a week, and delighted to get it, but with Airbnb I can get that a night, nearly.
“So, I suppose I am making hay while it lasts.”
The question we all have to ask ourselves, in that concrete position what would we do?
What would I do? You?
Would you take the money while the sun shines?
You have your dreams, your bills, your ambitions for your kids …
Or would you think of that poor (editorialising here, for emotional impact!) woman in the same town who can’t afford to rent and forget your Airbnb killing — however long it lasts — and give it over to her for a fraction of what you could get?
This guy with the properties is not just one of “them” and the woman without the apartment is not just one of “us”, the oppressed.
They are two sides of the argument. With no way of knowing how they would react if the roles were reversed.
Maybe the rental issue in Dingle, and everywhere else in this country should be a matter for the local council, or the government, to regulate fairly.
I believe these bodies should exist, and be vigilant and strong, to save us from ourselves, in a way.
To ensure that the strong do not take advantage of the weak, but also that the weak don’t try and take advantage of the strong, by sitting back and expecting things to always be “done” for them.
That it’s not just another “them” and “us” scenario. It’s you and me. And me and you. And maybe there is a better way to do this, a fairer way.
This is hardly likely to happen.
Without wishing to get political about it — which, of course, I am about to — our present government does seem hopelessly obsessed with the power of the ‘free market’, and how this should solve the property crisis or hospital waiting lists if only we could get conditions right for developers and entrepreneurs to do their rising tides lifting all boats thing.
For me, this item on the rental crisis in Dingle blows out of the water this simplistic notion of the faceless “them” exploiting the living, bleeding, suffering “us”
Or propaganda, by any other name.
We are the people who vote for the politicians and ultimately our government. The government that shapes our laws, or education, our roads, our economy and our lives.
I come from a town in north Tipperary, in the middle of Ireland.
Each election, a certain Michael Lowry (please Google him!), convicted of dodgy dealing in granting, while he was communications minister, a mobile phone licence to a man who subsequently became probably Ireland’s richest man, and for other shady dealings, is returned to our Dail, or parliament.
Often topping the poll.
He is seen as a great local representative, the man who saved the GAA (Again, Google!) in Tipperary by facilitating the Trip to Tipp music festival which used Semple Stadium, and put millions in local coffers.
I speak to countless people who while they know his record, will continue to vote him in because he is good for their area. A great man to get things done for you.
I don’t vote for him, but I also have no skin in the game.
Us and them. Them and us.
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