If you grow up in Ireland, you’re likely to adopt a hatred of the English. That’s just how it works. You never really understand why — something about 1916 and fields of barley — but you hate them anyway, just like all your classmates and your father’s classmates and his father’s classmates before him.
I fell into the same trap as a youngster. I didn’t like English people. If someone had asked me why, I probably would have shrugged and said, “Because I’m Irish.”
There was a general consensus that all English people were bastards, never to be trusted. And I rolled with it.
And then I turned 22 and went to live in a trailer park in central New Jersey with three hundred other internationals. Bulgarians, Brazilians, Costa Ricans, Jamaicans, Spaniards, Romanians, Poles, South Africans, Ghanians… and English.
It was the first time I really got to know English people as individuals. And yes, some of them were indeed assholes.
Just like some of the South Africans were assholes.
Just like some of the Bulgarians were assholes.
Just like some of the Irish were assholes.
But I also met cool people from every country. And I realized that it doesn’t really matter where a person comes from. Nationality doesn’t have much bearing on character. You can’t paint them all with the same brush (that’s just lazy).
A convicted criminal can be a quality human being, someone who got caught doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. A priest can be one of the most evil men you’ve ever known. And English people can be among the best an Irishman has ever met, if he can only let go of an adopted, century-old grudge that has no place in the present and no basis in experience.
Your adopted beliefs
What beliefs did you adopt growing up? Do you still hold onto them, or did you question and discard a few once you started thinking for yourself?
P.S. Hello from merry old England. I made the first stop of my round the world trip in Liverpool on Saturday, hosted by a gent named Rob. Right now I’m in Durham, hanging out with Anthony from Man Vs. Clock. Very cool people doing very cool things.