I’ve culled this from a recent post I made to the highly entertaining David McWilliams site. It’s perhaps misanthropic but an accurate reflection of my increasing frustration with Ireland.
The worldwide financial crisis merely reflects what we are rather than what we aspire to be. People are fundamentally limited in our viewpoints which leads to selfish and socially unwise behavior. We have some perspective but on the bell curve of social conscience I’m willing to believe that the middle bulge generally assume that if everyone looks after themselves then it’ll all work out. They believe in the equilibrium of an non-cooperative game without understanding that the timeframe for reaching a comfortable equilibrium could be long and the path arduous. Quick fix and laissez faire are not compatible.
In many respects all this talk of supermen is highly relevant. We don’t need someone with average intelligence or social conscience to help inspire the Irish people to be better than they really are. All the major religions come from powerful and charismatic figures who had markedly uncommon wisdom and presence. There are good and bad points to this, as lampooned in the LIfe of Brian. Holy gourd of jehovah anyone?
In seriousness the US are lucky. They’ve gotten a leader of formidable intelligence and powerful charisma who appears to have a genuine social conscience as evidenced by his decisions since graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law school. Every top firm wanted the first black president of the Harvard Law Review as they recognised an innate brilliance as a litigator. He could have joined a major law firm but instead became a community organiser and civil rights lawyer. Does this sound like ANY of the people we’ve elected to run this country?
Largely we’ve elected mammon. Many Irish don’t want to be represnted by those who are smarter or better than themselves. Direct empathy with our problems is more important than solutions.
It’s difficult to point towards a single inspirational character in the dail. Eamonn Gilmore comes closest and he’s no Obama. As a nation we’ve only recent emerged from a haze of dogma induced superstition. That dogma took the form of civil war allegiances and religious beliefs but the narrowness of the argument and differences between ideologies only underlined how stagnant this country is. How entrenched in the politics of colonialism.
My experience of doing business in Ireland over the past few years is that if underhanded dealings and collusion were olympic sports we’d beat all comers. We conduct our dealings based on refutable conversations and handshakes. Self interest is put before decency, yet we’re shocked when our illusions are shattered. If you don’t believe so then look at the Flood and Morris tribunals. We elected a “Handshaker in Chief” in Bertie. There’s a tacit acceptance throughout Irish society of skull duggery and roguery that is holding us back. Irish society has more respect for cunning regardless of it’s underlying morality than it does for humanitarian concern or creative intelligence. The knowledge economy won’t be founded on ruthless cunning, although it has its place.
We need a hell of a leader to come along to lift us out of this mess. He/she has to overcome the desire for a quick economic fix. He must make an election about national rather than parishional issues and he must encourage the Irish people to adopt a more sophisticated altruistic view irrespective of colour, creed, etc.
All this in the confines of one of the most conservative and shallow political genepools in Europe.
With this mountain to climb to rule a boithrin of a country, If Obama had been born in Ireland I’m not sure he’d have gone into politics at all.