As 2016 drew to a close I struggled to remain optimistic so let me start with some personal good stuff. I am alive and that was not a given at the beginning of the year. If the truth be known at times I thought I was running out of road. Believe me it concentrates the mind, and every day as I wake up I thank my blessings, and hey in May I will celebrate my sixty sixth birthday and Guns n Roses are playing Slane. Whiskey will flow from our new stills. In every sense the spirits will be alive by the banks of the Boyne, and early in the morning as I gaze at the Hill of Slane through a river mist I will remain as ever humbled by nature.
Now with that kind of stuff in your engine you would think it would be easy to get out of bed on New Year’s Day looking forward to 2017, but I’m afraid words of caution must prevail for we are still living in the age of uncertainty. Take the man made islands built by the Chinese in the South China Sea to the wall that Donald Trump proposes to build on the border with Mexico. Both serve as a reminder that often it is what is constructed by man not what is given by nature that causes all the hassle.
As I watch Donald Trump strutting his stuff in Trump Tower or holding impromptu press conferences between tweets at his Palm Beach resort I am reminded of President Obama’s startling summary of his foreign policy to the travelling press corps on Air Force One in April 2014. “I can sum up my foreign policy in one phrase,” he said, “don’t do stupid shit.” Wow, for such an elegant and cerebral figure that is pretty blunt. What a perfect tweet to send to Donald Trump.
You see since the Donald has started assembling his cabinet I have been trying my best to keep an open mind but this continuing mantra emanating from his conclave in Palm Beach that running a country is like running a business is starting to grate. Let me spell it out for you. Running a country is not like running a business. A country is composed of many elements, both the weak and the strong. Yes, there are many skills you learn in business that can be applied to politics, but you do not have to be socialist to realise that the relentless pursuit of the bottom line is no way to run a society. I often think that one of the problems we face is that we fail to attract into the body politic people who are well capable of making a significant contribution to the well-being of society but simply to introduce the principles of business is not the answer. Life is a lot more messy than that. So New Year’s wish. “Don’t do stupid shit.”