Friday, January 27, 2017

Excerpts from a Conversation with a bhean an-deas na hÉireann

Peace:
You'd mentioned [...] some months back that you were hoping [Ireland's peace walls would] come down or stay down where they've already been removed [...] . I [...] was curious as to how it's all progressing from your perspective as a citizen there.
To be frank, I'm also curious about real-world perspectives on our newly-elected president and how people are feeling about his apparent hostility toward the rest of the world, particularly there in Ireland given the tremendous degree of support you've given to some of 'our' most socially-important companies and the threat his attitudes may pose to your economy. I have trouble calling those companies ours, since I believe that many or most of the big ones have done great things for the whole world, or as much of it as they've been able, and have little to no intent of advancing American agendas to the detriment of that of any other civilized society. I'd like to see him embrace their nature as global companies that perhaps got their start in America, though I don't see that as likely.

We'll call her 'Myrna' (not her real name):
Yes, I was talking with you guys after Brexit about Northern Ireland and saying that I hope the border doesn’t go up again. It wasn’t really a physical wall, just border stops/check points on roadways between the North and the Republic. I just don’t like the idea of division. It’s so much better here now without all of that and I would hate to see any sort of separation start up again. Division doesn’t just physically divide one piece of land from another. It divides people too. It’s not a good thing.
Yes! President Trump! He’s such a divisive figure. It’s really hard to know what his presidency will be like. I do think he will try to relocate American companies back to US soil. To be honest I can understand that. These companies have been great for Ireland. I dread to think what could happen if they pull out. I can understand why the average American would want them ‘at home’. Trump wants to get those jobs back because that’s what he promised he would do. I guess we wait and see. It’s hard to know how this will all turn out. I’m fascinated with what’s been going on in the US since the election and inauguration. We are living in very interesting times. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Who knows what’s going to happen Peace. I just hope that the good in people will always win out over everything else.

Peace:
That's right, that was the conversation. Does Brexit then only affect Northern Ireland? It looks (upon a cursory search) as though most of the companies Trump's talking about bringing back are in the Republic, is that right? And I assume that your economy is independent of the UK's?

I agree with your thoughts on social divisions of that sort, physically indicated or not. It's been... kind of heartbreaking watching the current state of affairs develop, seeing people here become more vocal and less considered in our opinions of other 'factions', hearing all the talk of wall-building and deportation and state secession, and people taking sides against people based on preconceived ideas of their respective ideologies. At the same time I think 'political correctness' has gone to the extreme of making it impossible to have the conversations that allow us to understand one another better, but I think there is a happy medium if we can only find it. For instance, there is another way to deal with 'illegal' immigrants, and that's to just open the borders, let people come and go as they see fit and stop being so selfish and greedy. It'll all even out in the end if we're able to work together, but to do that we have to be able to talk to each other openly and honestly, but not hurtfully where the infliction of pain can be avoided.

That's where I fall on this whole 'bring jobs back' thing as well. The way I see it, these companies are employing plenty of Americans, and if they're more able to do that because having their headquarters in Ireland or elsewhere saves them some money on taxes or fees (and it's fairly narrow-minded to think that's the whole basis of the choices the intelligent, autonomous adults who run them made), well then, maybe we should look at our own tax and fee structure and how that money is handled here before we start being so presumptuous as to demand they come back. Under current circumstances, the only things forcing those companies to come back here will accomplish will be to make it more expensive for them to operate and to damage to varying degrees the economies of the countries in which they currently choose to base their operations. Increasing their overhead will decrease their ability to provide the goods and services - and, oh, jobs - they currently do, and limit their ability to research and innovate.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The general atmosphere in America right now is volatile and strongly-divided, with buzzwords like 'wingnut' and 'libtard' ruling the day, and it's difficult to have a rational conversation in those terms. I hold out hope that Trump's divisive nature will take us to such an extreme that we finally recognize how ugly it all is (we wouldn't be the first nation to go there, but perhaps we can be the last... ha), maybe before we destroy ourselves and anyone we can manage to take down in the process. That remains to be seen, and I suspect that nature might get us there before we have a chance to do it ourselves - would prefer that, actually, as it would skip the whole brother-against-brother step to which these sentiments inevitably take human societies and get us right to the 'okay, everything's broken, how do we fix it' part of the process without the 'and we're the ones that broke it' part from which it can be so hard to heal. It's a pattern that's repeated all too often and I'm beginning to wonder if humans are capable of doing it any other way on a large scale or if it's simply part of what we are that we must descend to the depths of the worst of our beings from time to time in order to understand why it's worth the effort of being our best. We shall see, I guess, and in the interim, these are indeed interesting times.

Speaking of time, I've taken enough of yours. Coming as you do from a place that's still recovering from conflicts that began three or four generations ago I think you have a unique perspective, and it's good to know that there's hope for people to really finally set those things aside in the end and still believe in one another and in our mutual ability to grow and build something even greater than the sum of its oh so very wonderfully and terribly human parts. :)

"Myrna":
... I have been watching what has been happening in the US over the weekend, at the airports with the travel ban. I am at a complete loss for words. I cannot believe this is happening in the states.
I think of the beautiful words written at the base of the Statue of Liberty;
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I love those beautiful words. They represent the America I know.

To answer your question, Yes there will remain a common trade deal between Ireland and the UK. We have yet to hear how the EU feel about this. Our relationship with the US is strong and we obviously don’t want that to be affected by either the EU, Brexit or President Trump. Again, we can only wait and see what the future holds.

Peace:
I quoted that to my son a couple days ago as well, when this all started. For me, what's most horrifying is that I believe that a government reflects its people so having this man in office says nothing good about us.
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