In his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell says the tipping point is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”. It’s the point when the incoherent and diffuse combine and become the potent and unstoppable.
Tipping points can occur in fashion.
It happened with hipster beards. Stylish beards were once rare. Then sometime around 2012, George Clooney and Ben Affleck grew some face fuzz. Quickly afterwards the whole thing passed its tipping point of acceptance and every second guy on the street had a manscaped jawline. The important thing to note is that the tipping point happened way before its inevitable adoption by a larger group of real men catching up to the trend.
Tipping points occur in society too.
There was a time when nearly everyone opposed the idea of marriage equality. Then in the early part of the last decade more people started to support the idea. Then, who knows when – maybe during season three of Will and Grace, positive attitudes towards LGBT people and support levels for marriage equality passed the tipping point. Passing the tipping point meant that the insignificant number had become a potent minority. The minority was not going to stop campaigning. The minority were now growing; were substantial and were going to campaign and agitate, until they convinced enough people of the case for marriage equality. The end result? It became reality.
So what does all this have to do with our campaign in County Kildare? What does the latest census say about supporters of truly egalitarian, multi-denominational education in our community?
In 1991 an insignificant number, a tiny 1.8% of the national population, stated they had no religion. In the 2016 census this figure has passed 10% of the entire population. Very significantly, nearly half of this no-religion group is found in the baby-making and child rearing 20-39 age group. Let that sink in for a minute. Nearly half of the parents you will find at an Irish primary school gate say they have no religion.
Though we are waiting for final figures for Kildare, we know that this county is already at, or close to, the top of the table when it comes to the number of non-Catholics. We also know it is one of the country’s fastest growing counties in terms of population.
This all means we have some big takeaways from the census.
The first is that there are a lot more people in our county, more babies and small children, and that number is growing fast. This means we need more school places.
The second thing is that Kildare has a huge number of people at primary school level who are non-Catholic or state they have no religion.
This is the incontrovertible, inarguable, unquestionable evidence that we absolutely need the second level equality-based school that we have been campaigning for. We cannot and will not stop until we make it happen.
Our biggest takeaway from Census 2016 is clear – We are past the tipping point.
With thanks to Pat Sammon, Parent and Campaign PRO for providing this piece.
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