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Showing posts from February, 2021

Culture Wars in America

  American Culture Wars                    Gerry OShea The distinguished Canadian theologian, Fr. Bernard Lonergan, writing fifty or so years ago bemoaned the emergence of a shallow culture, lacking depth and authenticity, where truth is considered changeable and the importance of family and community is undermined.   He defines the term culture broadly as the total amalgam of connections, stories, feelings, rituals, practices and values that inform the way of life of all groups. Surely one of the most perplexing happenings of the presidential election last year was the failure of the Republican Party to produce a manifesto setting out their main policy proposals for the electorate. By comparison, the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party made their support for Joe Biden contingent on reaching agreement that some of their priorities would be included in the party platform. This was negotiated to their satisfaction and the consequent party unity, missing in 2016, benefited the Democr

Partition of Ireland

  Partition in Ireland                     Gerry OShea The Home Rule Bill that was passed in Westminster in 1912 mandated a parliament in Dublin with jurisdiction over the whole island. It was a rather weak bill but was welcomed as an important step forward by Irish nationalists. Over 100,000 cheering supporters welcomed John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), back to Dublin after his success.   Reversing the Act of Union where Daniel O’Connell and Charles Parnell failed was indeed a historic feat.   Patrick Pearse, the leader of the Easter rebellion a few years later, hailed it as real progress, but he issued a prescient warning that all hell would break loose if Britain reneged on its promises. Meanwhile in Belfast the Protestant community led by Edward Carson and James Craig reacted negatively to the new bill. It specified the establishment of a unitary government in Dublin where, as they saw it, Loyalists would be in a permanent minority. For them, Home R

Poverty in America

  Poverty in America                   Gerry OShea The rate of child poverty in the United States is shameful. According to the latest statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Finland, Iceland and Denmark show about 3% of children in their jurisdictions living in poverty, Ireland comes in at more than twice that figure and America, the richest country in the world, scored at 20%. Think of the indisputable long-term damage to children growing up in such circumstances. Poor kids are less healthy than their better-off classmates; they drop out of school at a much higher rate; they earn less money and so are more likely to be dependent on the public purse; and America’s packed prisons are mostly populated by disadvantaged people who grew up lacking the basics of nutrition and healthcare. Reputable researchers put the annual monetary cost to the American GDP of child poverty at around one trillion dollars. How are people on the other side of

Amazing American Politics

  Amazing American Politics           Gerry OShea At the end of Sean O’Casey’s greatest play, Juno and the Paycock , Captain Boyle, faced with unpayable bills and abandonment by his family, bemoans his situation to his drinking buddy, Joxer Daly, declaring “ the whole world is in a terrible state of chassis .” These words are appropriate for the current political climate in America where everything seems out of kilter. A majority of Republicans say that they would not even approve of a family member marrying someone from the other side, and Democrats are almost as insistent in their marital preferences. Prior to the November election when all polls showed Joe Biden in front, then-President Trump declared that there could only be one winner. If results showed that his opponent received more votes, that could only happen in a rigged election. This kind of preposterous talk was never part of the preamble to any previous American election. True to the polls, the election results sh