Sunday 7 February 2016

The other side of the tracks

Do you really believe that middle-class kids are more talented than those from the ghetto?  We know that they will go further, faster, higher in the dreadful one-winner-only race that shags us all over impregnates the soul of Western Society . . . but for intrinsic ability? . . . . for novel solutions to the fine mess the planet is in?  What about women? Do you really believe that the sex ratio among presidents, generals, CEOs, professors is naturally  skewed from 1:1?  Because the genes for leadership are on the Y chromosome?

If you do believe any of the above, you might need an antidote; it's only an anecdote [N=1 is not data] but inspiring nonetheless. Here [L with her 2 daughters] is Lynn Ruane telling her story by talking about leadership at FemFest.  It's the same, more or less, as the Irish Times picked up.  Lynn grew up on a council estate in the depths of the West Dublin ghetto in Killinarden. She tells her story as series of incidents punctuating a life which was typical of the dispossessed: drugs, shop-lifting, vandalism, teenage pregnancy. But the force was strong with young Lynn. Her confrontations with The Man, didn't cow her; nor did they make her lose herself in rage. She rather tapped into a core of solid self-belief either acquired or delivered from god.  It might have started with the trousers, being told that only boys were allowed to wear them in school, or the skirts which only altar boys were allowed to wear in church.  Lynn wanted to have those forbidden garments and she asked for it in such a not-to-be-denied way that she changed how age-old certainties were viewed in her parish. It was uncanny, her power over weaker minds, like Obi Wan Kenobi murmuring "these are not the droids you want" when he arrives in Mos Eisley. We could have more of her - and here she is back-stage and talking direct to camera.

This year, Lynn Ruane is President of the Students Union in Trinity College Dublin, having clawed herself an education out in Tallaght. She's shown above with her two daughters beside the Pomodoro Sphere in the centre of the campus, which is an Establishment Bastion. Seemingly, the Presidency comes with a grace-and-favour apartment in College and she lives there with her family. If she seems to be absurdly young to have a teenage daughter, it's because she had an early start. I gather that the girls have been lowering the tone of the sacred lawns of TCD: now and then roaring out of the window to tell their mother not to forget the milk.  That's all to the good. The pomposity needs to be pricked occasionally. I have stake/status in Trinity because I'm now an Adjunct Lecturer there; so if I approve, it is okay [hmmmm? probably not].

Watch out for Lynn Ruane.  She is now thinking of running for the Senate - of the country, not the TCD talking shop. We've had a couple of female Presidents of Ireland in the last 25 years, but we've never had a female Taoiseach.  €5 on Lynn Ruane?  Get your bet on while the odds are still long.

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