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Showing posts from March, 2024

Ireland Then and Now

  Ireland Then and Now      Gerry OShea I had a discussion with a Jewish friend recently about the continuing tendency among many people to hold on to old ethnic and racial stereotypes. He said that his family, with an obvious Jewish surname, feels that some people still view them as Shylock types defined by strategies for accumulating money. He often feels that even his friendly neighbors and co-workers are convinced that Jews dominate the banking industry and Wall Street. I responded to him on the same theme that in a recent study, representatives of Epic Museum, a Dublin-based research organization, typed “Irishman” into the most-used AI image generator. They were dismayed by all the derogatory comments that spewed out, focusing on aggressiveness, inebriation, and people preening like leprechauns. The behavior of some people at the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year seems to confirm the stereotype. The day after the march, local Councillor Ed Flynn, reflecting on disg

Strongman Politics

    Strongman Politics     Gerry O’Shea Viktor Orban’s recent visit to the United States was highly irregular. As a prime minister, he avoided the usual protocol of meeting with American government leaders in Washington to discuss issues of mutual importance. Instead of talking to officials about issues like trade and tourism, Mr. Orban went to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where former president Donald Trump greeted him in effusive terms: “There’s nobody that is a better and smarter leader than Viktor Orban. He is fantastic. He is the boss .” Of course, Mr. Trump doesn’t utter such encomiums of praise without similar laudatory paeans flowing in his direction, and the Hungarian didn’t disappoint. He told a gathering of prominent conservatives meeting in Budapest, “If President Trump had been in the White House, there would be no war in Ukraine and Europe. Come back, Mr. President. Make America great again and bring us peace.” President Biden slammed his opponent in the Nov

Catholic Social Teaching

  Catholic Social Teaching       Gerry OShea The Catholic ethical teaching on ownership of material goods can be encapsulated as follows: the goods of the earth belong to all the people in the universe without distinction of place or culture. This important right is universally accrued based solely on people’s humanity. In some future idyllic world imagined by high-minded idealists and saints, this thinking may evolve into a new world order. We are talking about a utopia, the mysterious place over the high mountain seen only by mystics who believe that possessions and acquisitiveness should no longer define a person’s importance. Readers are likely to conclude that such a place is a dreamland that can never exist because one-upmanship will always reassert itself. Status, power and money will inevitably corrupt this imaginary Garden of Eden. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the brilliant philosopher and theologian who lived in the 13 th century but who remains in the front line

Ireland in the 1980s and Today

  Ireland in the 1980s and Today      Gerry OShea   Eamon Ryan, the impressive Irish Minister for the Environment, recently bemoaned some of the political and social media commentary about the country, which he asserts sometimes suggest that Ireland is some kind of a backward state. Contradicting this negative image, he pointed out areas of major progress in the recent past. According to the United Nations Human Development Index, Irish people enjoy the second-highest quality of life worldwide, and the country is ranked 12 th in the 2024 Social Progress Index. Life expectancy, currently at 82.88 in Ireland, has increased by five years in the last fourteen – in the United States, the longevity number is 79.74. Mr. Ryan went on to indicate that Ireland is rated fourth in the Human Freedom Index, third in the Global Peace Measurement, second-best in the world for reading ability among 15-year-olds, and eleventh in mathematics. He could have continued in this line by lauding the fac