This is a tricky one, since I’m not all done with my previous sad.
It’s Saint Patricks Day, which is a holiday I have an difficult time understanding, other than it being a day to celebrate Irishness. I was taught to wear the color green today, or don’t and be the target of practical humor (pinching — but still a tradition whose darker undertones are brought in relief juxtaposed to recent discussions). I’m not sure what the blessings of Saint Patrick were, and I can’t speak on what he did way back in the 5th century (circa the fall of Rome and King Arthur). To be fair, I’d have to look up whatever Saint Francis did that made him the patron saint of my own hometown.
Were I to guess, though, there were some local peoples, and some other ruffians came in and raped their women and burned down their villages and took all their grain, and Saint Patrick chased them out. Because that — more or less — is what happened to Ireland for pretty much the rest of its long sad history. Most often, said ruffians were the Britons. Don’t let the monocles and tea swilling and dapper dialects and fancy evening wear fool you: Brits were just as jolly eager eager to annihilate a people and steal their land as the next band of barbarians. Certainly as eager as we colonials were to wipe out the natives here in the Americas, or, to prematurely cross the Godwin threshold, as the Germans were to massacre the Jews and take their money. The Germans only had the advantage of modern industry and photography to make their effort extra systematic and extra visible.
Here in the US, most of our racial prejudices are conveniently color coded. All the people primarily disliked by the white majority are fairly often distinguishable by skin color (a point used by some anti-gay blacks to dismiss comparisons of the gay-rights movement to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, specifically gays can pass, ergo their comparison is invalid.) The English and Irish were about as different as Springfielders and Shelbyvillagers (Shelbyvillaers? Shelbyvillains?), but that didn’t slow down the mayhem a jot.
A point I’d make about any scapegoating campaign (or, really, any social cleansing campaign) is that it never ends. Even after one group is massacred, other groups within the majority will be singled out as problematic to the rest of the group, and if precedent prevails, they’ll be eradicated until eventually there’s only a couple of hundred people left, with not enough labor among them to run the power plants or water purification centers…or even mine for a bit of iron.
We can get along, and we must. The civilization that figures out how to sustain a huge size that still (more or less) cooperates is the one that wins and gets to dominate the others, either by culture or by strong military force. Rome did both. We need to figure out how to cease regarding the other people as the other people. That’s the way we support enough farmers to also feed sewage engineers and power plant operators… further down the road we get space programs, the internet and hundreds of kinds of cheese and beer.
That’s the deal. Cooperate with the people you most despise: lots of cheese and beer. Stay hostile with them: no cheese; no beer. We have to decide having lots of cheese and lots of beer, and getting to choose from an immense variety are both worth sharing that cheese and beer with our worst enemies.
Think of it as a fancy pub with a really big bouncer: Be kind, or no beer.
Yes, this was a bit of a ramble, but I at least got to post an image of cheese and beer.
Happy St. Paddy’s.