If only to see ourselves as others see us
Last week, as official Ireland put on an orgy of self-congratulation about what a grand little country we have become in the last 100 years, I had the opportunity to get two outsider snapshots from very different perspectives and generations. It surprised me how much overlap there was.
One was a German man in his 30s who has been living in Dublin for the past two years. He had the good fortune to fall in love with an Irish cailin and had got a good job here as she finished her studies. Firstly, he was genuinely bewildered that they could not go to a pub and get a drink on Good Friday, a day off together. He was on his good-humoured high horse. "I thought you told me this wasn't a Catholic country any more?" was his taunt. I had no reply.
Warming to his theme he asked me to explain how any civilised secular republic could have our abortion laws. Then he went on about our marijuana laws. He had recently been to Colorado. I pointed out that our drug laws had nothing to do with the Church. I wasn't too sure that was true. He didn't press me.