Throughout my life I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’ve often went back and forth from low to high standards of living depending upon circumstances. I used to think it was possible to live anywhere with the right attitude and it absolutely is, but there are some places more challenging than others. Yes, there are places in this world that would test the patience of a saint.
One of those difficult areas to live is in close proximity to the general public; not just any kind of general public, but specifically those without an appetite for God or lacking social skills and a moral compass. In Ireland (and I’m sure this is the same world over) sadly those of the working class variety rank highest on the list of undesirable neighbours.
I grew up working class so I feel that I can somewhat legitimately speak for my own kind of people. There are good people among them, but the statistics are there that such communities generally have the most problems.
I grew up in an era when affordable housing by the council was allocated to the poor like my parents. After a while of living in the house, they’re asked by the council do they want to buy it rather than rent and they agreed.
The estate I grew up in was constructed in the 1970’s and given the name in Irish, “Muirhevna Mor” translating, “The Big estate”. I know what you’re thinking, “Could you not have developed a more attractive and intelligent name than that?” Yes, that is how much interest they had in the poor back in my day.
These “big estates” later became so full of children many of whom went around in gangs, got involved in drugs, fathered children in their teens and became dependent upon the government for handouts. It was like the wild west and a lot like Lord of the Flies. Every day we got into fights, stoning houses, and in our teens doing drugs and drinking alcohol. Pretty soon “the big estate” unsurprisingly got a name for itself.
One person related to me how a woman went into a council estate in Dublin and left 2 weeks later to back and live with her mother it was that scary. My sister also had a similar experience and within months she was back renting again. As the years progressed they realized their mistake and began to explore new ways to prevent this from repeating itself and to reduce the crime rate.
Although council housing is still a reality, now they’ve developed another system alongside this called social housing. Social housing is quite a different set up and usually only available to people suffering either mental or physical disabilities.
My wife had cancer so we were high on the list for social housing. For the most part many who get social housing tend to have at least one member of the family who suffers from a mental illness. Instead of developing big council estates they generally buy around 40 houses and put these people in close proximity to one another alongside those who are paying a mortgage.
There is a screening process to make sure that the bulk of the people going in are of sound mind, but these processes are open to abuse. They tend to sometimes put undesirables beside the good people in the hopes that the sound moral compass of these folk will rub off on them. Since moving into a social house I’ve had many confrontations with these people and their children.
Hey, I grew up on a violent estate so I’m used to it. I know how they tick and the only language they understand is someone being bigger than the bear. It’s like prison, if they get the slightest whiff you’re weak, then you’re not going to survive. I knew in advance coming here that if I did not treat it like I was living in an apartment in New York there would be problems. I ended up allowing my kids out on the street which was an extremely bad move.
The children from these homes are incapable of interacting with other kids that are of sound mind. Sometimes this has to do with the carelessness of discipline by parents but for the most part because they’ve got mental illnesses like ADHD or Aspergers which cause them to lash out violently in unprovoked attacks. Recently my 7 year old son was jumped by four of them in the very small estate while minding his own business.
I think that putting 40 mentally unwell people from adults to children on a small estate, expecting them all to get along, is one of the worst government social experiments I’ve ever seen. If I was a mortgage payer there would be a “For Sale” sign outside my house in no time.
I grew up in a very violent estate so when they proposed the idea to me it looked promising. The houses looked pretty, it was in a rich area of my town and extremely small. However, the cracks soon began to show, and having people with bi-polar, depression among other illnesses was never going to go down well.
With all this in mind I’ve decided that another move is on the cards and this time I’m going back to the rolling hills and solace of the Irish countryside where I belong. It’s going to cost me a lot of money to do it, but can you really put a price on peace of mind? I certainly don’t think so.