Today in Dublin, we took a wonderful walking tour all around the city and got to learn so much about Irish history from our tour guide, Dr. Sylvia Kleinman. She was not shy about sharing different events and aspects of Irish history that made her feel very uncomfortable and even a bit ashamed of the way some things were handled. I could really appreciate her open attitude because I believe this is something we can all relate to within our own countries histories.
For me, I sometimes find talking about our bipartisan political system to be a bit uncomfortable. This aspect of our history is not necessarily shameful, but it can be a difficult topic to discuss considering the lack of compromise between the two main political parties in the US, Democrat and Republican. Some events that can be embarrassing to talk about revolving around this aspect of our political system would be government shutdowns. This is obviously a recent issue within the past few months, but what some people may fail to realize is that this has been a problem since 1976. Though not all the shutdowns in history can be considered significant; many only lasted a day or took place over weekends.
A significantly notable shutdown was under President Jimmy Carter and was in relation to using Medicaid to pay for abortions. I note this one specifically because of the upcoming vote in Ireland regarding making abortions legal. Two of the biggest shuts occurred under President Bill Clinton. These were over Medicare premium increases and spending bill propositions. Another big shutdown was over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in 2013 that lasted a full 16 days. The most recent shutdown was only 3 days long under current President, Donald Trump. I find this is all uncomfortable to talk about because it shows a real issue with our inability and willingness to compromise between the two parties. This leads us to seem even more divided as a country, which is why I find it uncomfortable to talk about with people of other cultures because we often try to exude ourselves as a strong, undivided nation.
History, whether good or bad, is an essential part of understanding a different culture. Dr. Kleinman allowed us to hear her views on different historical events even if she was uncomfortable or ashamed at times. Talking about things in history that are not the most pleasant can be super important in helping the next generation to grow and learn from the past. Today’s tour was so informative, and we got to see some beautiful places including Dublin Castle and Trinity College. Being as today was a holiday here, we weren’t able to go into some of the places we saw. I hope during the rest of our time here that we have the opportunity to keep exploring the rich culture that can be found in Dublin.
I’ve included some of the photos I took during today’s tour!