I spent the last few days in Berlin, on a holiday with some college friends. It was cold. It was dreary. On one night, when I was visiting the Brandenburg Gate, it reached – 20°. It snowed. It made me think about how the Irish deal with the weather, and how the Irish deal with things in general.
While I don’t claim to be able to speak any German, almost every German person we spoke too about the weather said that it was “pretty”, “beautiful” or “lovely”. Us Irish had much more colourful words for the temperature. In general, we didn’t enjoy it. I snapped out of this mindset about a day into the trip, deciding that any mention of how my nose was about to fall off would only dampen the fun of the trip, as did many others. But this got me thinking. The Germans embraced this cold and looked at is as an opportunity for snow, for crisp mornings and white landscapes. Us Irish got sort of pissed off at the whole thing. How does this translate into how Irish society deals with things it doesn’t like?
Us Irish tend to have a difficulty seeing things from afar. We see the immediate problem, instead of the wider picture, and then complain a bit. A friend on the trip pointed out an example of this when we found a giant ice-water puddle in the middle of a rather wide footpath. The locals had simply marked it off with traffic cones and put tape on them, so people wouldn’t wander in and hurt themselves. However, as this friend pointed out; “If that happened in Ireland, the whole footpath would be shut down, and there would be an article in the Irish Times about how it caused people to be late for work.” I suspect it would then be surrounded by council workers sprinkling salt on it for a few hours.
The above photograph was taken 203 meters off the ground, in the Berlin TV Tower. Being this high up really gives you a new perspective on things. Hours long walks could be traced out through the city, we could each see our favourite museum, piece of architecture or square and we could even see areas in which The Bourne Identity was filmed, much to everybody’s excitement. The whole city came into view, and we could see how it was laid out, focus on the whole.
How do people who have difficulty seeing the forest ignore the trees? Does Ireland, as a nation, have terminal Xylophobia? I think we might.
Take the Occupy Dame Street ‘movement’, for example. A Co-worker wrote a blog post about a recent encounter my employer had with them. Several occupiers had dropped into the store, and put in a request for a donation of an expensive computer “for use during their campaign”. The answer was no.
This is where the story gets a bit strange. The manager didn’t manage to release this stock. Probably for the same reasons he couldn’t release a new machine either – because it’s not worth the business risk. The problem here is that no one dropped around to the Occupy movement HQ to tell them. They decided to get angry. And when protestors get angry, they shout. A few of them decided to take it upon themselves to drop into the retail store (when it was quiet, apparently) and chanted that the company was “part of the problem”. Once they had vented their anger they went off and were never heard of again.
I’m not a huge fan of the Occupy Dame Street movement, if only because they don’t seem to really be getting much done. Or saying much. In fact, they are just sort of sitting around, voicing the (however correct) opinion that Ireland is going down the drain. But they haven’t offered any viable solutions. They latch on to the tree (We want fancy computers) but refuse to take into account the forest (Fancy computers cost a lot of money and have a very low margin).
I don’t have answers for any of these things. But I’m not sitting out in the streets. I’m holding down a job, attending college and working on multiple side projects, all of which will hopefully help me get a rather nice career at some point in the future. I almost compulsively ignore the trees and focus on the forest. Scattered around my computer, I see signs of projects which will not be complete for weeks, months and years. But I plan to finish them all. They just aren’t quite ready yet. The same goes for my position at DCUfm. If a problem arises, I completely ignore any short term solutions that will hinder us down the line. A patch-up job is simply not an option.
Of course, this can also lead to downfalls. Fiction projects can be left sitting in folders for months before I think up the perfect final sentence. This blog can be left for weeks without an update because I can’t think of any ideas I’d consider worthy of imparting. I’m a perfectionist, and I don’t care how long it takes me to reach it. I’d rather postpone something forever rather than release something that I considered flawed.
This all ties into a concept I call “Future Me”. If I do a bad job on something now, Future Me will have to deal with the fallout. I wonder if the Occupy Dame Street people and their ilk are thinking about Future Me, or focusing on Present Me. All I know is that at the time of writing, the chatbox on their website was mostly concerned with the question of if Hitler hated Gypsies because of connections to the occult.