This weekend was a weekend of victory for many. Women around the country woke up to a new Ireland on Saturday; one that chose to repeal of the 8th amendment. The Yes side won by landslide proportions, with the final result being 66.4% in favour of repeal. While the celebrations for the Yes side roared on over the weekend, the No side was left to contemplate defeat and to reflect on losing the Ireland they thought they knew.
The lead-up to the referendum was a particularly contentious one, and both sides often cited ‘disrespectful’ behaviour from the opposite side during canvassing. Now that the race has well and truly ended, canvassers for the No side have retreated to the sidelines, with many TD’s who supported a No vote saying they will not stand in the way of incoming legislation.
The weekend got me thinking: what does it mean to be a ‘good’ loser? We all know how to be a good winner – because winning feels great. We celebrate, we congratulate each other on our collective victory and we (sometimes) commiserate the opposition’s side. Losing, however, is far less easy. Being gracious and respectful in the face of defeat, especially on emotive and personal issues, is extremely difficult. But it’s incredibly important to do it because sore losing can stain your reputation for the long haul.
The key to being a ‘good’ loser, no matter how much the fight might have mattered, is remembering that losing is inevitable. We always hear our idols talk about how their failures shaped their lives, and it’s a cliché for a reason. Losing forces you to reevaluate, to look at why you lost and try and improve for the next round. It’s a chance for a positive change. Once we change the way we view loss, the way we lose changes too.
In the case of the referendum, the losing side’s mistake was underestimation. They underestimated Ireland’s capacity for change. They underestimated Ireland’s want and need for change. And they underestimated the power of women in jumpers. Maybe for their next round, the key is reevaluation.
The No side did not want abortion in Ireland, and many thought that the majority of the country was with them. Turns out they were not. The loss for the No side is an opportunity to get to know a new Ireland. Who knows, they might even end up liking it. I know I do.