Credit and its Effect on Freedom

   Posted by: chris   in Fish Talk

My wife’s mother grew up in rural Ireland in the town land of Columper. Their stone cottage sat on the banks of the Shannon directly across the river from the ruins of the Clonmacnoise Monastery which was founded in 545 AD by St Cieran. Clonmacnoise is in Co Offally whereas Columper is in Co Roscommon. The Shannon is a natural border

Her father Bill was a small man who farmed their tiny homestead to feed his family of eight, seven daughters and a son. He was an avid reader and in those times of subjection by the British he taught in what was then known as hedge schools. In the Ireland of that day it was forbidden for the Irish to speak their native Gaelic and their Catholic religion was frowned on.

Looking back at a man raising a large family of girls and one son in a stone shanty without heat other than a turf fire it is hard not to believe that we as a people have progressed so far.

Our homes are heated by oil that ensures a steady 70 degrees. We eat the freshest food that the supermarket can supply. We cook it in seconds in the microwave.

Bill kept his own pigs and slaughtered one a couple of times a year. He salted his own bacon, made blood sausage from the blood and white pudding from the intestines. Nothing was wasted. He fished the majestic Shannon for pike and trout, and hunter for rabbits and pheasant.

For heat he cut his own turf, stacked and turned it to dry and then hauled it home. The yard around the house clattered with chickens and geese. Fresh eggs and a Sunday roast.

The day was his to do the chores that where his life. A small stern man respected for his willingness to give himself to his world not to mention seven extremely handsome daughters.

My commute to work starts at 5.30. Already the highway is bumper to bumper with impatience. We have become indentured to jobs we tolerate because they pay the bill for our security, a mortgage, food and utilities. Denying the ever present anxiety that all may just not be right with us.

In the work to bed society that we have created every dollar is needed to support a lifestyle that is more slave than free man. Who can afford to quit a secure job to do something that his heart craves.

Bill owned his cottage. Mortgages where yet to be designed to capture us into servitude. He was free to be a man, free to live the life that was gifted to him.

Today we are like factory hens, confined to our particular pen, to a chore that defines us, and when we pass our usefulness to the system we are discarded. If you are lucky the pension you sweated for will be still intact but more likely plundered by some corporate raider. Most of us are one curve ball from disaster. One Bernie Madoff from doom. It really is true, half of America is one blown transmission removed from destroying their credit and in a credit driven society that is akin to leprosy.

Bill was a free man subject to all that freedom offers and requires. It’s not easy being free. To be free you have to acknowledge that it is you against the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your every moment is spent watching your neighbor it merely means that you know your survival and well being is up to yourself. It makes you vibrant and alive. At one with the environment that is your sustenance, generous to your neighbors needs rather than oblivious. It instills a gratitude for the abundance of the planet. Rain was truly soft.

Today we are a resource, nurtured in proportion to our usefulness. Dreading the day when our usefulness begins to wane. Constantly in fear of losing the dot of security against freedom that we have carved out. Living a reality that is at best deluded at worst denial. So terrified of loss that we don’t dare to contemplate living.

The reality is that in a land that proclaims freedom as a birthright the thing that frightens us the most is freedom. Imagine being responsible for yourself. No police or government to protect you. Just you, and the survival of you and your family resting on the success of your exploits.

Bill had no pension plan, no health care, no unemployment insurance and no food stamps. All he had was himself and the freedom to do what was necessary.

But what he didn’t have is more the reason my wife is here today to talk of him. Other than the Queen of England he had no master. He wasn’t burdened by the weight of a credit report. When he needed a horse he traded a pig or cow. When he needed a barn he built it. He was free from credit. Foreclosure wasn’t a possibility; repossession is only a threat if you are forced to borrow for something that is a necessity for survival.

How far we have come indeed.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 at 1:58 am and is filed under Fish Talk. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment


Dear Chris,

Your article that references Columper is interesting. We are looking at Columper townland as part of our history group..can you get in touch please. From, Marie

October 19th, 2014 at 10:33 am

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