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Readers Blog: Catalans should adopt French policy on difference

In her article of October 7, under the headline “Ireland relied on support of others...it mustn’t look away as Catalans chart own freedom”, Marina Devlin compared the armed Spanish police disruption of the Catalan independence referendum to the 1916 Rising.

This disruption, she said, was “reminiscent of Britain’s overreaction to 1916”.

So if, because of this overreaction, Catalonia proceeds towards independence, as Ireland gradually did after 1916, it will be because its marriage to Spain was mainly based on monetary well-being, rather than on friendship and appreciation of cultural differences.

If any marriage, whether it is civil or Church-based, depends solely on money, it will fall apart when that money runs short.

This is why Catalonia and Britain have both been inclined, after the recent years of austerity, to leave their long-time political and economic unions. Scotland would probably have left Britain via its 2014 independence referendum, if its North Sea oil industry had been booming.

All marriages depend on more than money and these ingredients must include friendship and an attraction to differences between the two parties.

The French saying, “viva la difference”, which celebrates the difference between men and women, could also apply to differences between gay men.

There is beauty in every language and dialect in every country and region.

If there is any chance for Catalans to love the Spanish language, and likewise for Spaniards outside of Catalonia to love the Catalan language, then their peoples should all readily take the first opportunity to embrace this aim.

Both peoples ought to love all the other cultural differences between them.

This should happen before these differences divide them and enforce the feeling that each side is a stranger or foreigner to the other, and before violent overreaction.

If Spain and Catalonia do become estranged, a mutually impoverishing divorce will ensue. That such a divisive outcome could happen just now, to the present great country of Spain, is something the modern world could well do without. It would be yet another unneeded obstacle in the way of future international cooperation. It would be an obstacle that would fly in the face of efforts to deal with this century’s great international challenges of mass migration, terrorism, global recession, and global climate change.

Sean O’Brien, Kilrush, Co. Clare


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