Americans and thinking big- what we can learn

So Donald Trump isn’t coming to Ireland due to the fact that he does whatever he wants, when he wants. Or he is coming to Ireland, he doesn’t know. Either way, it’s not a story in the US.

Sometimes when you’re in Ireland, you think we’re a the centre of the universe, but unfortunately, it’s not always the case. I’m currently in California and no one here knows he was coming, and now no one knows he’s not coming or indeed, coming.

“The people of #Ireland won. They didn’t want #TrumpInIreland, so he isn’t going to show up,” “He got the message he wasn’t welcome in Ireland,” social media commentators gloated. Our proclivity to big ourselves up never fails to astound me.

By the way, I think it would be good for trade relations if he came, while it would also be good for a la carte social justice warriors if the world saw how we protested him, so it’s not really a great victory. Plus journalistically it would be great.

We don’t do ourselves any favors by castigating the president of the United States, so the whole thing feels like sour grapes. “Hillary and George and Barack loved us, why don’t you?” kind of thing.

The unfortunate reality of what happens between Ireland and the US in terms of politics and social issues is very much lost on our American friends. Our twee stereotypes seems to be all they can relate to. “Oh you’re Irish. I’m Irish too. My great great grandfather Patrick Murphy came from a place called Mayo, do you know it?”

“He was an alcoholic, who used to eat corned beef.” Good for him. I don’t know anyone who eats corned beef in Ireland, but that’s for another day.

I’m not having a go at Americans here. I love the States and I love how they are so fond of us chancers, and we always receive a great reception. Only the other day we were stopped by a cop en route to Burning Man in Nevada. “Where are you guys going?” he asked. “You do know you were over the speed limit at the slow down sign.” “Oh sorry, we thought we’d slowed down.” “Where are you guys from?” “Ireland. “Ok great. Well you guys have a good day now.”

That kind of thing. Its common for us over here. It’s a like a golden ticket. ‘I’m from Ireland.” “Oh ok then, off you go,” is pretty much the reaction we get regularly from Trump supporters and non Trump supporters.

I try to live up to my stereotype of being fun and drinking- actually it’s not too difficult as I like having a laugh and I like drinking, but very often I don’t think we’re worthy of such a reaction.

They, and I’m making a general and very sweeping statement here, have the upper hand when it comes to many things. I’m only referencing personal experiences, but from these I can surmise that Americans aren’t afraid to take responsibility for their own lives.

Sure, everyone I met hates Trump -again that’s a certain demographic, but unlike us they don’t incessantly blame their government for their lives.

Americans, I find just get on with it.

Sure, our all encompassing housing crisis is destroying opportunities for generations of hard working people, who live in urban centres to have their own lives, their own homes, their trips to the hardware store.

Things you would take for granted at some stage in your life, like owning your own home, or indeed renting your own place, are gone for so many, and it’s not our fault. Meanwhile we can’t afford childcare and people are on trollies in hospitals.

But when I look at parts of the US, rents are the same, real estate is through the roof, childcare is almost unaffordable and the average salary is lower than in Ireland. Americans only get six weeks maternity leave, three months if they’re lucky, famously, unless you’re insured, you have no healthcare, college fees will keep you in debt almost until you retire, and there’s no opportunity to be on the dole for years, or get housing benefit and yet people won’t look for handouts, because they know they won’t get them.

“Once your tax credits run out, you get nothing over here. We have to work.”

And work they do. I was chatting to a friend who said twenty hour days are not unusual, 16 average and 12 a breeze. I’ve never met an American who doesn’t work, some with two jobs and of course, other interests on the side.

In Ireland, we sit around and moan- again, I’m sure lots of people don’t moan, but comparing myself to the Americans I met, I moaned more.

“I never get time off,” I never take holidays, A guy at Burning Man told me. “Unless I come to Burning Man.” And Burning Man is no holiday, it’s a weeklong community experiment in the desert, where conditions are harsh and people bring all their own supplies. Its many, many other things and there aren’t enough paragraphs in the world to explain it, but some people work hundreds of hours on art projects voluntarily too, just on the side, for no financial gain. We’re afraid to think big, in case one of our mates will disapprove, which they invariably will.

Americans don’t think someone else is responsible for their lives. They don’t stand there holding out an empty cup going please fill it.

It might be tantalizing to feel some kind of victory of Trump not coming, but it’s also a slight defeat as he doesn’t see us important enough to bother. In its announcement, the White House said the visit would serve to “renew the deep and historic ties between our two nations,” but unlike the Clintons and Obama, who liked to lick our arses, he’s non plussed. As a narcissist with a personality disorder, who will twist things in his favour no matter what, a few protests wouldn’t put him off.

So rather than focus on these small, largely insignificant victories, why not take a leaf out of Mr Trump’s book, he may be many things, but at least the thinks big and that’s something we may want to start doing.