The Power of Hope (and of a little humour)
There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of Maureen Dowd in the New York Times but I have tired of the formula, and the over-cleverality, and the devices, and verbal pony tricks. I have switched loyalties to Paul Krugman (him of Erin go Broke fame) and Thomas Friedman in the same paper. Both are required reading, especially when it comes to the big issues like the economy, climate change, and the future of society.
There’s a really good contribution from Friedman in this weeks NYT (read here) called Invent, Invent, Invent. The gist of his argument is that America should not, and cannot, spend its way out of a recession.
One of the key arguments is wonderfully laid out plain as always:
“We might be able to stimulate our way back to stability, but we can only invent our way back to prosperity. We need everyone at every level to get smarter.”
Strangely, Brian Cowen was making the same argument during Leaders Questions this morning saying we can’t just throw money at the problem because that’s going to get us deeper into the morass.
We have had endless analysis. And enough dismal dirges to make keening at a wake sound upbeat. We need a bit of invention, of though and of deed. People have scoffed at the Spirit of ireland but at least it’s trying to be bring positivity and energy. Much more of that is needed.
And we need a bit of humour too. In the run up to the elections Village magazine did a question and answer session with most of the sitting MEPs, north and south. The last question was ‘tell us a joke’.
Most of them couldn’t come up with anything. The po-faced dull as ditchwater MEPs were Liam Aylward; Colm Burke; Brian Crowley (“I’m more of a singer than a comedian and once sang with a hard rock band called Galaxy”); Bairbre de Brún (“I’m not really a joke sort of woman.”); Proinsias de Rossa; Marian Harkin; Jim Higgins; Mary Lou McDonald; Mairead McGuinness; and Eoin Ryan.
The only two who gave a joke were Gay Mitchell and Kathy Sinnott.
Here they are…
Gay Mitchell: Two Irishmen, two Scottish, tow Welsh and two English men were lsot at sea. When finally they were discovered on a desert island, the Irishmen were fighting, the Scots had set up a distillery, the two Welsh had established a choir and the two Englishment were waiting to be introduced.
Kathy Sinnott: A man took his dot to the cinema to see War and Peace. The dog sat beside him and the audence was amazed to see the dog and his reactions to the film. When the heroine was facing dire straits the dog would howl and when thing were going well he’d bark and wag his tail.
After the film ended a woman came up and said: “Wow your dog’s reactions were amazing!”
To which the man replied: “I know, I’m really surprised. He hated the book. “