Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

I suppose it being St Patrick's Day and all, I should be celebrating and wearing the obligatory green something to show my respect for my heritage that has it's roots in the Emerald Isle. Hmm. If I were to follow the family creed, I would be spitting on this day and wearing Orange instead of Green. My Irish ancestors were Protestant and hardcore Orange men. Celebrating a day dedicated to a Catholic Saint was not necessarily their idea of a good time. Or maybe it was since the Irish do seem to love beating each other up.

Instead of making me feel pride in my heritage this one day a year, I more often than not feel sadness and anger over the stupidity that has had it's grip on Ireland for centuries. And though the hostile attitudes there have been dampened to some degree in recent years, the anger still simmers just below the surface.

I could blame the English who conquered and exploited the Irish. I could blame the Catholic Church or the Protestant clergies for allowing religion to falsely be used to further political ends. But I don't. I blame all the Irish for not finding a way to resolve this absolute stupid situation. They have bought into the hate that had real reason to exist 200 years ago, but now seems to have settled into hating for hating sake.

The story or the family legend on my mom's side goes like this.

In the late 1700s, my Irish forebears became part of the new Orange movement that honored William of Orange, the King of England a hundred or so years earlier. It's purpose was political, but was soon turned into a religious struggle between Protestants and Catholics. This nasty little situation created a need for my Irish ancestors to find a way out of Ireland and do it quickly. They came to America in the early 1800s.

Okay, many marriages later spanning at least nine generations, here I am an American who is supposed to be proud of my ancestors for being stupid. My name may identify my genealogical path, but I am not Irish. I am not Scottish. I am an American with American roots long planted. I feel no kinship to them. No connection. I am interested, but only in a kind of historical sort of way. Any kinship has been lost over the almost two centuries since my early relatives put feet on US soil.

If anything, my family's history in Ireland and Scotland reinforce my negative view of organized religion. And thus a not too favorable view of God. No better example exists in the West of the damage religion can cause than the struggle of one kind of Irishman against another kind of Irishman. So forgive me if I just ignore the traditional green beer, the riotous celebration of being proud to have Irish blood flowing even a little through my veins, and just treat this like any other day on the planet. Because when all is said and done, that is all it is.

(512 / 7582)


BBC said...

All that beside the point, this is the day that everyone gets to be Irish for the day.

And most folks just ignore the history, if they even know of it in the first place, and use it for an excuse to drink and party.

Works for me, when I returned from camping this morning I went to the beer church for some beer and corned beef and cabbage.

Tipping one toward you.....

BBC said...

That is, I went to the beer church this afternoon, not this morning.

Middle Ditch said...

Amen to that and cheers. I couldn't agree more.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

I don't often agree with BBC, but on this point I am fully in agreement---course I didn't drink the "green" beer, I opted for the "Irish Red"---and a big helping of cornbeef and cabbage--I think the Irish invented "soul food"

Demeur said...

Well you can't put the blame on me I'm Swiss ancestery we never take sides.

Randal Graves said...

All this would be moot if the Vikings had simply decided to force everyone at the point of a sword to worship Odin instead of spending ALL of their time plundering and making treaties with ineffectual continental yokels.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I'm late to the table, as usual, but this post immediately made me think of Monty Python's "Bookshop" sketch, wherein John Cleese's book shopkeeper character is driven mad by a customer asking for strange titles:

CUSTOMER: Hmm... do you have 101 Ways to Start a Fight?


CUSTOMER: An Irish gentleman whose name eludes me at the moment.