Worrying times should leave a body thankful for simple graces

The above statement could be ascribed to innumerable contexts. Most poignantly close to home in relation to what was unquestionably the most difficult year’s mileage these wheels have clocked up thus far. Unending thanks is expressed to those who aided conveyance through same.

In ways, very few pieces comparable to what you are about to encounter hereafter have come off this production line. Simply as there are certain areas one is very reluctant to scribe on. Turned another way, however, that comment was passed thereon in the end should be indicative of the depth of feeling which a given topic generates in this corner. See anything regarding Oscar Pistorious on these pages for reference.

To invoke a phrase often associated with a late former Taoiseach, I said it before and I’ll say it again – to me, party politics boils down to differing opinions on how to do the same thing. Many will of course know where my loyalties lie in that sense, but it’s a source of great pride to be acquainted and – it’s hoped – on friendly terms with folks of all political hues.

There’s surely little doubt that more can be achieved, in any walk of life, amidst an air of inclusivity. Hardly much more evidence is required than the transformation that has been affected in Northern Ireland throughout my lifetime to date. One need only survey some of the commentary in the aftermath of the terrible news of Martin McGuinness’s illness.

Consider that, even when I was younger, the thought of the now former politician sitting down with Ian Paisley would’ve been utterly inconceivable. Yet, had both parties not been able to work in such a manner to enable both to come together, much of the progress achieved up north would hardly have materialised.

All of that came to mind recently for several reasons. Firstly out of a realisation of the seminal moment it was to hear Ian Paisley Jnr pay warm tribute to Mr McGuinness and extend best wishes to the Derry man for the next part of his journey. That’s only as it should be, but what it also did was heighten the sense of foreboding as the reality of the power which Donald Trump now wields dawned.

At this point, I should acknowledge that it’s known that commenting on political and/or current affairs issues on what’s predominantly a sports website doesn’t sit well with some people, and that’s fine. But here are a few addendums. This website was mostly titled thus as yours truly would’ve been best known to most people due to a (treasured) association with sport.

However, being a self-publisher – in this guise at least – affords the opportunity to comment on whatever takes one’s fancy at a given time. Moreover, in one way, President Trump has opened the door to sport being brought into political discourse by appointing Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets American football team to be his ambassador to the UK.

There’s a certain sense to it. Vast swathes of the world’s population are sports fans. Of course, equally, a big proportion are not. A figure from a recognisable medium, though, may win people over. NFL has certainly become a more recognisable spectacle in recent years. Especially given the frequency with which gridiron games now pitch up in London. They’ve been to Dublin too, you know!

Viewed through another lens though, does it not serve to illustrate the flippancy with which the billionaire non-politician regards much of the population he now governs? Mr Johnson’s retention of a professional sporting entity suggests he’s not exactly short of a dollar. How in tune he’d be with what appears to be a largely disaffected public could, mind you, be a different story. And, frankly, it’s worrying to see someone of such status in sport subscribe to the Trump theory.

That said, towards the end of 2016 there was sports story which starkly brings the divide currently bedevilling the so-called home of the free a sporting – and therefore more relatable – context. Baseball is probably the last remaining discipline pertaining to which not an iota of insight is retained.

Even so, ludicrous as the titling of the World Series may be, it’s undoubtedly the biggest stage the code has to offer. Well, the 2016 winners thereof were the Chicago Cubs. Triumphant in the bigtime after generations of setbacks and disappointments. Gut instinct is to now wonder do large tranches of Americans now see themselves as the underdog and wonder when, or if, they will have their day in the sun.

Now, it must be said that, not for the first time, observers and commentators got the ‘call’ on the American election woefully wrong. Just as they did with the general election across the water two years ago and the BREXIT referendum in 2016. The election system in the US is highly complex for sure, but, like it or lump it, he’s now in power and the inescapable feeling is that large sections of society are wholly unprepared.

Which in the current political climate is gravely worrying. Yes, for all the flaws of the American electoral system, Trump was the victorious candidate. No matter what influence he now commands, however, some of what he has done already – and at the time of typing he’s just over a week in office – has been utterly abhorrent. So much so that, no matter what mandate he may have acquired, the world in all conscience surely cannot sit idly by.

There are some issues which comment upon is generally avoided. However, observing some of the Executive Orders the new Commander in Chief has discharged thus far would leave a body shuddering to think of what he thinks of, say, folks with disabilities. Then again, in some ways he’s already shown that, hasn’t he?

Much furore abounded recently at the revelation that the 45th President would be ‘honouring’ the invitation to Taoiseach Enda Kenny for the annual presentation of shamrock. That it has come to this surely underscores the worrying times in which we now reside and should leave a body thankful for some simple graces in life.

Chief among them the security of knowledge of a steadfast, beneficial relationship with the US. Which doesn’t the certainty now it always was. And that’s without even contemplating the trepidation promulgated, rightly, within certain sectors of Irish society regarding the potential consequences for our economy.

One thing is certain, sitting on hands and doing nothing – which in both relevant cases commented on above seems to have been the response from those in positions of influence here – simply isn’t an option. Should Kenny be going to the White House at all? Partly, temptation is to say no.

Yet, given the pivotal importance foreign direct investment from US based multinationals plays in the Irish economy – not to mention how pivotal exports also are – it may be prudent to play ball, to some degree at least.

Either way, the overwhelming s is there will be a bumpy road ahead, for Ireland and the world. Strap in and brace yourself.

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