Time to stop whinging.


In the wake of the comprehensive spending review, BRIAN KENNAWAY says that it’s time people stopped complaining and began to take more personal responsibility.

Ecclesiastes reminds us that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

Now that the dust has settled on the impact of the spending review, perhaps the time has come when we should embark on a period of quiet reflection. There is a time for everything!

There is a time for thanks. Is it not time we expressed our thanks to the Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, for what he achieved for Northern Ireland in general, and the Presbyterian Mutual Society in particular? Why can we not see that he fought our corner at the Cabinet Table, as our representative, and delivered for us an inclusive package which, given the general economic climate, might well have been much worse? It was surely a great achievement – we are in his debt.

There is a time to stop whinging. We have become so accustomed to the welfare state – from the cradle to the grave, that we have lost all sense of personal responsibility. Who created the sacred cow of an ever increasing standard of living, and said that it was a determinative law of the universe that we must have a better standard of living next year as opposed to last year? Why is it that when the Government announces austerity measures the glass is immediately seen as ‘half empty’?

There is a time to take responsibility.  Let us not blame it all on the banks. We must accept some responsibility ourselves for the financial crisis, because it was a crisis driven by greed! It was ‘we’ the public who went looking for money from the banks to finance our ever increasing opulent lifestyle, when we knew that we did not have the means to pay it back. We have allowed ourselves to be driven by rampant materialism and a lifestyle of ever increasing consumption.

There is a time for political maturity.  Now that we have ‘parked’ the constitutional question, our political leaders should address the ‘bread and butter’ issues.

As part of the United Kingdom we are all in this together for the good times as well as the bad times. We cannot pick and choose.

Owen Paterson was right when he took the long view – over a period of twenty-five years – to reduce the dependence of the Northern Ireland economy on the public sector. It is hardly a sign of political maturity for political leaders to go constantly running to the door of the Prime Minister. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is ‘our man’ at the Cabinet Table, and is the one to whom our local political leaders should go. It is time that we got back to good management in government – Blair ruined it by opening No. 10 to all comers!

There is a time to speak. Ecclesiastes also reminds us that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak”.

Now is the time to say – in the midst of such a sharp economic down-turn and world recession – LET US MAKE THE BEST OF IT AND GET ON WITH LIVING.

Brian Kennaway is a retired Presbyterian minister.


This Platform piece appeared in the Belfast News Letter on 28th October 2010.