I woke up this morning to day 355 of covid-19 restrictions, the groundhogesque feeling arising through the knots in my stomach and the invisible weight that sits on my chest. The same day to live. Again. And Again. And Again.
I opened up my laptop on the desk three feet from the bed from which I rose. My living quarters almost feeling as if they are shrinking as each day rolls into the next. While the colour of the walls, the worn wood of my writing desk, and the glare of the laptop screen become further etched into my psyche, no doubt to flash through my mind as unwelcome images in years to come. Not unsimilar to PTSD.
I notice that my bin needs emptying. Exciting. Something to do that deviates even slightly from the day before.
I trudge downstairs, in my pyjamas bin in hand to empty and thoughts arising, what to have for breakfast? I don’t know why I pretend I must think about it, porridge of course, same as every morning.
Now, that description is rather bleak. I will admit, I employed a certain amount of poetic license, sometimes I have Cheerios.
However, the sentiment is the same. That is, I’m finding this really, really hard. Even the words ‘online college’ make me want to curl up in a ball of despair. It’s up there with ‘wet pub’ ‘social distancing’ and even ‘covid’. Words that someday will be a distance memory, but right now is the language of the people, our vernacular.
Back to my morning routine. Where was I? Oh yes, porridge. Stirring the oats and milk I subconsciously tuned in to the radio that happened to be playing your Newstalk radio show. I don’t usually listen to the radio, but I felt like changing up my usual morning activity of reading my book. You know, spice things up.
On you came, interviewing the Minister for Justice about the happenings of the previous night. The gathering of a rather large number of students of Castletroy student accommodation. This was the first time I’d heard of the events, having consciously been avoiding news outlets of recent times for my own sanity. The second the news had filtered through the grogginess of my half–asleep brain, a deep feeling of dread settled on its usual perch. The heaviness in my chest, somehow, heavier. I knew what this now meant, the blanketed blame on the entire student body of Ireland.
It’s happened before. It almost seems the public, news outlets and for some reason in particular, you, are only waiting for students to set a foot wrong during this global crisis.
As the Minister for Justice rightly said in between your torrents of abuse towards the students of Ireland, that this should not have happened. I agree of with her, of course, I agree with her.
The vast majority of people, students, agree with her. 99 percent of the students of Ireland and people of Ireland agree with her. That this should not have happened. And there should be consequences or at least warning to those students, but please, all I ask, is do not put us all into one category.
Because Pat, you mentioned in mock disbelief that we are “the best and the brightest so- called”, insinuating a despair that the future of the country lies in our hands. And quite frankly, Pat, how dare you?
This demonizing rhetoric you employ here to place us all in one grossly unfair box is sickening. Extraordinarily unfair yet unfortunately familiar.
As I write this, I feel I must include a point that goes without saying. Everybody has been the victim of this pandemic. Every strata of society, every cohort imaginable has been affected one way or another by this rough hand the planet has dealt to us all. Including third levels. But the reason I highlight us here is that there is a history and culture of a sort of hostility towards us. You say we “moan” about the the three thousand five hundred we must pay for college. We’re not moaning Pat, we’re questioning. We’re critically thinking. Are they not traits to foster for the future of Ireland? This push for fully subsidised third level education is among a litany of leftist and egalitarian ideologies that a lot (but not all) of us share that are too often brushed off by the
Government and news outlets as merely youthful naivety.
We often don’t have support from the rest of the population. But that’s okay, because we have each other.
Except, right now, we do not.
The sacrifices we, among the rest of the population, have had to make are endless and to list then might just call the end on my quickly dissipating sanity.
Besides, I think you may get the point. We are struggling and I ask you, on your radio show, do not allude to us as compulsive lockdown-breakers, as it is simply not true.
Now I must return to my laptop screen to finish of this day of “college”, before I go for a walk, have my dinner and get back into bed to repeat this process again tomorrow, without seeing one friend, sharing a laugh or put simply, be young.
I was going to sign off this letter,” sincerely the young people of Ireland”. However, I caught myself before I assumed, we all thought the same, act the same or are the same and Pat, I suggest you employ this same forethought and critical self-reflection before you categorize us narrowly ever again.