As a nation we’ve improved road fatality statistics over the years, an improvement that’s all the more noteworthy considering the increase in traffic volumes. So I’m presuming it’s down to NCT testing, better roads, improved driver training, penalty points and hard hitting road safety campaigns.
I know it has an impact when I see that TV ad with the car turning over into a garden where children are playing, or that radio ad when the mother talks about finding out in the hospital that her child has died.
Ironically I was driving when I heard an item on last Thursday’s Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1) about a very graphic presentation on road safety to young people. Even the descriptions of what images were shown were quite upsetting, and the no holds barred approach had some youngsters leaving the room and needing medical attention.
The item seemed somewhere between neutral and approving – after all it was aimed at saving lives. Perhaps some of the youngsters may have had family members or relatives who died in road accidents, so it would have been particularly upsetting for them.
I have very mixed feelings about the graphic approach to any life and death issue, but it does strike me as peculiar that when the graphic approach is used by pro-life activists there is outrage, both on mainstream and social media, even though the objective is the same – to save lives by raising awareness. And the death toll from abortion is about ten times higher than that for road accidents and is likely to rise.
In fact, for better or worse, most Irish based pro-life groups do not use graphic images, and yet during last year’s referendum I heard frequently in the media about graphic posters, even though, apart from a few isolated and one-off displays, the pro-life posters showed only very alive and healthy unborn children.
It reminded me that while people act in a fairly normal way much of the time, when it comes to abortion a veil of moral blindness or denial descends. And so, last week in the media one of the most dominant issues was the controversy over the children’s hospital and the related financial overruns.
Our politicians gushed over the need to have the best possible services for the nation’s children, but I heard nobody calling out the Emperor’s new clothes – asking where this enthusiasm for children’s welfare was when they campaigned to make it easier to kill living children before they were born.
On Today With Seán O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1) I even heard the embattled Minister for Health Simon Harris saying “my job is to deliver for the children of Ireland”, when last year he was vigorously campaigning for abortion “services”, thus making it harder for children to be delivered alive in the first place.
More positively I thought I’d like to cover something relating to St Valentine’s Day, especially as it’s the publication day for this issue. Last Sunday’s Songs of Praise (BBC1) hit the mark nicely, with a programme that focused mainly on the Tower of London – not very romantic you might think, but it seems the earliest surviving valentine poem was written there by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in the 15th Century.
A devout man, he was a prisoner there for 25 years and spent much of his time writing love poems and letters to his wife, who, tragically, died before he was released. Mind you that early poem started rather ambiguously: “I am already sick of love”!
We saw the oldest surviving Norman chapel in the Tower and got some of the background of St Valentine, a priest that helped young couples to marry secretly when an emperor forbade marriage to young men as he thought it made them less effective soldiers, though not a word about his relics being in Whitefriar St in Dublin.
Christian dating apps were explored briefly, and we saw a young faith-inspired couple meeting up for the first time – it went well despite the presence of cameras! At the other end of the scale we heard from a married couple, a Catholic and an agnostic, celebrating the milestone of their 50th Anniversary.
The songs were well tailored for the occasion, including the choral hymns ‘God is Love, Let Heaven Adore Him’ and ‘O Jesus I have Promised’, and most strikingly ‘When Love Was King’ by soul singer Gregory Porter.
Pick of the week
RTÉ1, Sunday, February 17, 11 am
Mass with a congregation from St Mary’s Parish in Drogheda. Music from the Drogheda Male Voice Choir. Musical director David Leddy, celebrant Fr Phil Gaffney.
Catholic View for Women
EWTN, Monday, February 18, 8am, Wednesday, February 20, 10.30 pm
Looking at recent mass shootings and consider how modern culture in the US has been impacted by media violence and pornography.
Everybody Loves Raymond
Channel 4, Tuesday, February 19, 8.10 am
Touching moments when Debra’s hippy sister shows up unexpectedly and announces that she’s decided to become a nun.