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  Liberalism                       Gerry OShea The revolutionary cry from America in the 1770’s that all men are created equal shattered the prevailing political wisdom of those years. It debunked the legitimacy of monarchs and clerics who claimed that their power was unassailable because it was part of their heritage, approved from on high. The American colonies asserted their right to independence from England and they won the war against a disgruntled king to establish a democratic form of government, the first since the Greeks of old. Fourteen years later, the French – greatly influenced by events on this side of the Atlantic - made a similarly decisive move. Louis XV1 was convinced that he ruled with divine approval, but he and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, represented the Ancien Regime and were dispatched by guillotine.  Loud French proclamations about their new radical guiding principles of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality reverberated throughout the world. These
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The Biden Record

  The Biden Record                     Gerry OShea President Biden’s poor approval rating is causing consternation among Democrats. His score in various polls hovers around 45%. This is the lowest of any president at this stage of his tenure in the last half century. The one exception is his immediate predecessor, Donald Trump, who, a year into his term in the White House, was judged to perform even more poorly at just above 35%.   Nearly all the experts predict that Republicans will win a majority in the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections, with dire consequences for the Democratic agenda. The leadership of the senate is also in danger of changing from Schumer to McConnell. Our era is defined by chaos and uncertainty. We have the jitters worrying about covid and climate change, police brutality and mass shootings in schools. Democracy itself is under attack with about 50 million Trump voters firmly convinced that Joe Biden thieved the election. It is imper

The Challenges of a Synodal Church

  The Challenges of a Synodal Church              Gerry OShea The 16 th Synod of Bishops announced recently by Pope Francis, unlike any previous one, calls for involvement in church decision-making by all Catholics in every diocese throughout the world. The pope stressed that the heart of this process involves people walking together and listening to one another, believing there is a divine light prompting the whole ecclesial movement. The Synod will take two years. The first crucial stage, which began last October, involves worldwide consultations that will continue until April of 2022. This listening phase ushers in further deliberations in each continent lasting until March 2023. The whole process will culminate in October of that year when the bishops assemble in Rome, presumably to make decisions, influenced by grassroots thinking, which will then be passed on to the pontiff for his approval. The Vatican stresses that the Synod should not be compared to some kind of parliam

Perspectives on Irish Unification

  Perspectives on a United Ireland                 Gerry OShea A few months ago, my son-in-law, Jimmy Frawley, who lives in Dublin, brought two of his children, aged 10 and 15, on a weekend trip to Belfast. He wanted them to become acquainted with a part of the island that they had never visited and knew little about. Jimmy had read positive comments about the tours provided by the Black Taxi service, and, on arrival, he engaged one at the train station to provide a trip around Belfast. They were lucky to get a talkative and knowledgeable guide who showed the main sites of interest with stops at murals and drawings representing the culture of both traditions in the divided city. His script was balanced and fair. However, towards the end of the hour-long tour he mentioned that his brother and uncle were shot at by Republicans back in the troubled 1980’s. Coming to the end, my son-in-law asked him whether he thought that a United Ireland would happen after the border poll promised

The Crisis in American Democracy

  The Crisis in American Democracy              Gerry OShea William Shakespeare, widely regarded as the world’s greatest dramatist, frequently focuses on how the unbridled aspiration for power and aggrandizement leads to tragic consequences. Lord Acton’s famous dictum that all power corrupts is confirmed in many of his plays with an abundance of shady deals and compromised principles. Of course, democracy, the concept that political power resides with the people, didn’t come to the fore for nearly two hundred years after Shakespeare’s time. However, the overwhelming drive to get to the top remains a vibrant theme of modern politics. Shakespeare’s tragic character, Macbeth, makes no bones about his motivation in words that still resonate today, “I have no spur to prick the side of my intent only vaulting ambition.” Donald Trump can’t abide being a loser. He must win to salve the insatiable demands of his ego. In a Commencement address in the Naval Academy in 2018 he declared that,

Poverty in America

  Poverty in America                 Gerry OShea I recall a philosophy professor from County Mayo, Fr. Brian Dunleavy, teaching a class on the subject of mistakes in reasoning, more formally called the logical fallacies. He explained that we all tend to think in a way that supports the conclusions we want to arrive at. We are inclined to explain our lives in terms that enhance our own standing and prejudices. This convenient thinking, a universal human tendency, is called rationalization. I thought of Dunleavy when I read a Pew Research Study recently showing that most wealthy Americans believe that “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.” Now there is not a scintilla of evidence supporting this demeaning assertion, but it does provide a convenient justification for disregarding the travails of the poor. The Pew study highlights a real weakness in the capitalist culture and in the educational system in America. It

Speaker McCarthy

  Speaker McCarthy            Gerry OShea Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and a very ambitious man, sees himself on the cusp of a major positive  career move. He wants Nancy Pelosi’s job as Speaker, and the current betting suggests strongly that he will take over from her after the mid-term elections in November.  Recent voting for governor in Virginia and New Jersey seems to confirm that people are moving away from the Democratic Party, dissatisfied with rising prices for utility bills as well as in the supermarkets and gas stations. More than that, the mid-term elections, following compelling past precedents, will likely show a significant swing away from the party in the White House. And the Pelosi Democrats are already working with a tight lead that only allows a slight slippage before losing their majority.  Republicans in some states have gerrymandered the constituency boundaries for their own electoral benefit. One independent expert