News Opinion

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Our obsession with our Irishness holds us back

Published 03/01/2016 | 02:30

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Shem Caulfield, who owns the boat from which Joan Burton fell last Thursday, has to deal with flooding in his house situated on the Quays in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
NO LAUGHING MATTER: Shem Caulfield, who owns the boat from which Joan Burton fell last Thursday, has to deal with flooding in his house situated on the Quays in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

I asked a friend of mine who was home from Australia for Christmas what struck him most on this occasion. And he said it was optimism, a general air of it, on people's faces, in their demeanour. Optimism is not something he would have picked up a year ago on his last visit. It can be hard for us to remember how unsure we felt just one short year ago, how much our mindset has changed since then.

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 You could argue that it is easy to be positive now, going into 2016, when the news and the omens are good. But that hardly demonstrates real resilience. And resilience is the thing right now isn't it? Resilience, along with adaptability, is what we want to teach our kids to survive in the fast-changing work environment of the future. And resilience, adaptability and bouncebackability is what we aspire to for ourselves and indeed for the nation. Those are the qualities that we are told will make all the difference in the future.

It's hard to say how mentally resilient we were over the course of the recession. At times we tended to believe that things would never come back, that this was how it would always be, that we had blown it because of innate traits within ourselves that caused some of us to gorge on debt and property. And those of us who hadn't were going to pay for the ones who did. And it became common to say that our children, and our children's children, would have to keep paying for these socialised debts of private individuals and companies. We saw no bounce-back. And even as the bounce-back happens, we find it hard to trust it or to believe it.

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