Canaries in the Coal Mine


At the recent consultation on working in loyalist areas, someone made the analogy (don't know whether it is original... it was to me) that young men are are like canaries in the coal mine when it comes to social and economic change...

Whether they be the hoodies dreaded by the Daily Mail, or the young loyalists of Northern Ireland's estates, there is a certain truth in that. Whatever malign phenomenon pervades society manifests itself first with young, undereducated men... even things that seem good on the whole, can have unexpected toxic consequences in the underbelly of society. And so the societal changes that came from the end of the industrial age, sexual liberation and equal rights for women, and the end of armed struggle, have all wreaked havoc among young "working class" men.
However, even when things are going well, the canary may be singing cheerily, but it's still in a cage in the dark and may never know anything different...


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