More than 230 Irish soldiers came home yesterday after asix-month tour in South Lebanon. Those 232 Irish troops from the 114th Infantry Battalion continued a long and proud tradition of Unifil peacekeeping.
That this mission was completed by an organisation, and individuals, that has been undervalued and its members underpaid for many years speaks to something powerful and valuable — the idea of service.
That demanding idea may not be as popular as it once was or even feature in a career guidance teacher’s lexicon today but it remains a cornerstone of all decent, functioning societies.
Maybe we should do more to inculcate it.
Norway, and other Scandinavian countries too, has, through the idea of “janteloven” done just that with great success.
Simply put, this philosophy puts society before the individual, values not boasting about individual accomplishments, and discourages jealously.
It underpins social cohesion and justice in a real and proactive way obvious to anyone who visits Norway.
However, even suggesting that janteloven might help us build a better society provokes an obvious question: Is it possible that we could still embrace it even if it would be a very positive social force?
One thing is certain though, when the 114th Infantry Battalion left Lebanon little did they realise that they were a perfect example of janteloven, of the power of caring humanity.