Home Columnists Mary Theresa Lowndes: Irish people are not without sin when it comes...

Mary Theresa Lowndes: Irish people are not without sin when it comes to racism, discrimination and bullying

I cannot tolerate bullying, discrimination, exploitation or violence. I watched the video showing the brutal murder of George Floyd.

It was an absolutely evil crime. I don’t know how that police officer could do what he did. Racism is rife in America and everywhere. Black people, especially the marginalised, suffer a lot in America and were very badly hit by the coronavirus too.

Irish people are not without sin when it comes to racism, discrimination and bullying. I remember one evening I went into a Spar shop in Dublin. Two medical students from Pakistan worked there.

Two Irish men came into the shop, two ignorant men in their late 50s or early 60s with a good few drinks in.  I suppose the drink made them think that they were great fellows.

They started hurling out racist remarks and telling the two unfortunate students to go back to where they came from. I felt very embarrassed and very annoyed. There is no excuse for racism.

The Irish people can be very racist against their own people too. The travellers are our own people and suffer a lot of discrimination. They are blamed for everything.

Of course just like the fact that some non traveller people break the law, a minority of the traveller population break the law too. But it is very unfair to paint them all with the same brush. There are great talented people in the traveller community and I don’t hear people talking about that at all.

There was always hate and discrimination in society. I remember a time when intelligent people with some kind of disability like a hearing problem, a stammer, a vision problem etc would find it very difficult to get a job.

This denied them the opportunity to be independent and to contribute their talents to society. They were also wide open to be bullied and taken advantage of throughout their life span causing a lot of pain and suffering. That horrible situation is slightly improved now but there is still a long way to go.

We hear a lot about bullying on social media and how it affects young people. Bullying is very dangerous for everyone and very harmful. It is up to parents to talk to their children about the dangers of bullying.

And young people need to be kept busy with healthy activities to keep them away from social media. But adults bully on social media too. I studied the comments on some media articles posted on Facebook.

There is nothing wrong with respectful debate but some comments are disgusting, with name calling and every possible insult. And politicians take fierce abuse on social media but they have a right to be treated respectfully whether we agree with their policies or not.

Working class people suffer a lot too from low pay and of course class distinction. But every job is important and low pay for vital work is an insult and leads to poverty and social problems.

Taking any kind of an advantage of someone vulnerable is very wrong. Long term unemployed families are often a target for hate. I hear comments like “that lad wouldn’t work his way out of a paper bag” or “look at them getting a house for nothing and they get everything for nothing”.

There is no such thing as a house for nothing. Council tenents pay rent according to their means. Every long term unemployed person has a story and often a story of neglect and brutality in childhood.

We can not judge anyone until we walk in their shoes. The gay community suffered huge discrimination in Ireland too and so did single parents.

Religion is another problem that causes discrimination. Down through the years I heard plenty of bigoted talk out of people.

It is very hard to be an atheist too, especially in rural areas. Hard to believe that in this day and age people will talk about people who don’t go to mass. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and if someone is an atheist that is perfectly ok too.

It is very easy to scapegoat someone vulnerable. Scapegoating and bullying may not lead to the death of the body but always leads to the death of the spirit, always leads to the death of confidence and kills all joy in life.

Bullying, scapegoating and discrimination leads to marginalisation, violence and poor health outcomes for many people.

Peace in a country begins with peace in the home. If only parents would teach their children through word and example to treat others as they want to be treated themselves we would have a kinder society.

We would have a society with less crime and violence and with less addictions, less physical and mental health problems and less anxiety.

I hope that the brutal murder of George Floyd will wake people up and make them see that racism, violence and discrimination are so evil.

I hope his death will not be in vain and people will see the importance of treating others the way that they would like to be treated themselves. But I am afraid that is wishful thinking.

SEE ALSO – Read more articles from Mary Theresa Lowndes here

SEE ALSO – An open letter from LaoisToday: Think local, support local and #LoveLaois as businesses open their doors again

Previous articleThe Mere Mortals on Baggot Inn, Feile and just missing out on the Commitments
Next articleBusinesses in Laois re-open as restrictions begin to ease
Mary Theresa Lowndes describes herself as a 'Golden Oldie' living in her 60s. She went to college late in life as a mature students and has a degree in Sociology and Social Policy from Trinity College and a masters in journalism from DIT.