January 08, 2014

Act with Agency, Ctd Combatting ageism in Northern Ireland

When representing a client (a youth whose liquor license application was opposed by the police on the grounds of the applicant’s youth), Thomas Ebenezer Webb said:
"Alexander the Great at the age of 22 had… brought the entire Persian Empire under his sway… at 23 Descartes evolved a new system of philosophy. At 24 Pitt was Prime Minister of Great Britain… and at 24 25 Napoleons Bonaparte saved the Republic. Is it now to be judged that at 25 my client, Peter Mulligan, is too young to manage a public house in Chapel Street."
Lyra McKee (@lyramckee) wrote about her experience of ageism in Northern Ireland here, she said:
"In North America, young people are praised for trying to get ahead. They’re encouraged to take the initiative and make things happen. If a young person in Northern Ireland takes the initiative, someone will tell them to wise up. Then we wonder why they leave and never return." 
Seamus Heaney said (I covered it here and here) of Northern Ireland young people compared with their American counterparts:
"When I came here first I was very aware of their eagerness to be in contact with the professor. At home in Ireland, there’s a habit of avoidance, an ironical attitude towards the authority figure. Here, there’s a readiness to approach and a desire to take advantage of everything the professor has to offer. That unnerved me a bit at the start, but now I respect it. Also, the self-esteem of American students tends to be higher. They come to college with positive beliefs in their abilities, whatever they are."
In Northern Ireland young people are conditioned towards deference, credulity and servility. To step in line, wait your time and know your place. Fine Gael Eoghan Murphy TD gave voice to this attitude when he attacked the Dail’s mentality of "know your place lad and bide your time." To achieve success, you have to stop asking for permission. You have to be your own agent. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Defy convention. Break the rules and utterly change the game.

My previous post in the Act with Agency series here where I say that conformity and convention is over-rated. On the agency of Mary Robinson, see here.

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