It was Enoch Powell who railed in the 50s about the problems of a divided society would have, when the large number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants was allowed into England, for cheap labour. A couple of days ago I read in the press that, surprise, surprise, there are 2000 suspected subversive activists in Britain, with terrorist interests. I have lived in a divided society for 65 years, from starting with pure naivety to arriving at unsatisfactory conclusions.
Of course there are 2000 youngsters, possibly twice that, being brainwashed by real dissidents for their own ends. The youngsters are bored, some are lonely, some looking for an outlet for natural aggression, some are misfits with a chip, some have already been indoctrinated in the home, all attracted by excitement. They start a few at a time, putting an innocent toe in, possibly with some quasi political or religious reason, and if the brains behind the system are as astute as they usually are, the process will attract them. I remember the fun we had in lower elementary school, with stupid secret societies, invisible ink, crazy signals, but the level of excitement was nothing like these kids are experiencing. What the end is, I’m not sure, what it will probably end up as is criminality for the enhancement of the dedicated few with a profit motive, as has happened here in N. Ireland. Children emulate and hero-worship the known dissidents, and can’t wait to join their older brothers in daring deeds. Here, the children still stone the police, the fire men, the ambulance crews and burn assembly halls and damage churches, even though the ‘war’ is allegedly over. It is not of course, it has merely gone underground, will surface again until there is a United Ireland, and the law is such that it is not worth the time arresting the little terrors, they will not be sentenced anyway.
I know what it is like to have an empty house waiting for me on leaving school at the end of the day. Of looking for company, until Mother comes home from work, and believe me, it is not difficult, if your training has not been rigorous and at times painful, to be led into trouble. I had a very dear friend, way back in the 40s. He had been brought up as a republican, and we would argue late into the night about Irish politics. If a section of society believes it is under privileged, second class, nothing you say or do will remove that stigma, neither a buoyant economy, high standard of living – nothing! It is almost in the genes and has been taught at the parent’s knee, so it must be right. Please remember this dictum!
A solution which might stem the tide with respect to young children, if not the often vicious reactions of some members of our divided society, is to divert them by putting money, supervision and longevity into recreational facilities of a quality, which will not underline the ‘second class’ syndrome. I’ve been there too, to disused church halls, badly decorated, and insufficient equipment of a poor quality and a pervading air of squalor. The people had the right idea, but not the personal experience and the money to know and avoid the pitfalls.
Our small society here is now even more layered with a strong Asian community and some of the latest migrants. There are some of the indigenous residents who resent the influx to the extent they are shooting and burning these incomers out, even though they have lived in the area for even 20 years. This is a recent phenomenon for which I can’t find an explanation for, unless there is an underlying financial motive.
I believe there is a need for a committee of experienced people; professionals in behavioural matters, child psychologists, community workers and input from those who have been there, to study the problem of divided societies, coupled with crime and poverty, before the whole thing gets out of hand. There is a strong subterranean murmur against the increasing dilution of our heritage, for want of a better word. It is growing and if it becomes really deep-seated, it will be difficult to control. The influx of foreign millionaires taking over some of our more treasured assets doesn’t help. We need to start now, seriously and with vigour. Enoch was tarred and feathered on paper, but having lived in Africa in the British Raj, I always thought he was wiser than he was given credit for.