SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Royalty and purgatory have no place in 2013

EVERY baby is born the same — squalling, bloody, scrunched up, a few fragile pounds of infinite need and life-changing feelings for the boggle-eyed new parents.

Only a curmudgeon would be snarky about new parents gooing over their newborn — no matter who they are, everyone has the right to get gooey, misty-eyed, overwhelmed at the enormity of the tiny thing in front of them. Yay for all new babies, all new mummies, all new dads. Yay for all of them.

But although they are born the same, babies are not born equal — at least, not in monarchies. In Britain, one of the 2,000 or so babies born on July 22 will one day be a king. The other 1,999 won’t. Not that they would want to, I imagine — it sounds like a right headache, despite having someone (paid for by taxing the peasants) to squeeze your toothpaste every night, or stir your muesli in the morning — but the idea that one random baby out of a couple of thousand is born special and different from the others is frankly medieval. You know, like papal indulgences.

And yet both ideas continue to exist, right here in 2013. Monarchy involves a population being complicit in the notion of an individual baby born socially superior to others. That the other babies are less important. The British monarchy exists because this idea is widely accepted without question. And while I’m sure that the British royals are all very nice individuals, it is the concept of one baby being born better than another which sticks in the throat like a fishbone of idiocy. Medieval idiocy.

Which brings us to another startling anachronism. Here goes. The belief that one individual has direct access to a deity, and can assist everyone else in accessing this deity if everyone else follows the individual on Twitter. Yes, I refer to the newest decree from the Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary which says that people can cut time in purgatory (that made-up place that hangs somewhere between made-up heaven and made-up hell) by following the Pope’s Twitter feed. I. Kid. You. Not.

With a statement such as this, it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s just say these concepts exist because we allow it to. Were we to turn around and say that ideas such as purgatory, monarchy, papal indulgences, royal babies, and the like are more suited to 1013 than 2013, and that we need to let go of them, they would simply cease to exist. Nothing bad would happen. Life would go on. Not a utopian life — humans are not programmed for sustained utopia — but a life that is nevertheless free of medieval ideas. Think about it. We scoff at homeopathy for possibly being connected with the fairies, yet we retain papal indulgences and royal babies. Are we mental or what?


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