What's running though my mind comes through in my walk / True feelings are shown by the way that I talk. ~MCA Adam Yauch 1964-2012

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patrick's Editorial Piece

I saw this on the Watertown Daily Times online. It's a great editorial piece. Being of Irish decent myself, it is quite meaningful.

If you're Irish, you must remember this



SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2009

You're already making plans.

Tuesday night will be a time for celebration. You'll get off work early. Depending upon your parish, you may or may not enjoy some corned beef and cabbage with a side of soda bread and without Lenten guilt.

Then it's on with your favorite green sweater and off to whichever is your favorite genuine Celtic watering hole for the evening. Maybe you'll wear the funny foam fedora or the plastic shamrock pin they hand out at the door. Maybe you'll even taste the green beer offered by the bartender who offers everyone a strained brogue. Maybe you're Irish just for the day. After all, it's St. Patrick's Day.

Well, it's all fine by me.

Heck, I might be the guy with the pint or the teacup standing next to you.

But if your connection to the Emerald Isle is deeper and more permanent than the dye in those drinks, add one thing to the revelry Tuesday night:

Remember who you are.

You are the product of thousands of years of Celtic determination. From the time when Ireland's legacy of poetry and law began — long before the Greek word "Christos" would be applied to a radical Jewish rabbi — through the time an ex-slave named Patrick brought home that rabbi's message, through Europe's Dark Ages when Irish scholars saved Western civilization from oblivion, through the invasions of the Vikings, and through the centuries-long murderous campaign of the English, men and women whose genes designed your body and spirit fought tirelessly against long odds to survive.

It was seldom easy. At its best, it was the ancient battle to scratch a life from the earth, to beat back hunger and disease and build a culture. At its worst, it was genocide, with nearly half of Ireland's 8 million natives killed or driven off in a single generation and much of that culture erased.But, if you are of Irish descent and you're reading this, some ancestor of yours conquered those odds. They somehow summoned the necessary will and courage to survive. They were determined not to be erased. You're the victory. You're the heir.

So I ask again, during this celebration of Patrick, remember who you are.

Then keep remembering.

When someone points out the poor or the homeless with disgust and waxes aloud about how they are the way they are because they lack the intellect or the character to improve themselves, remember you're the child of a people once made poor and homeless.

When someone tells you that some racial group is inherently inferior because of its alleged laziness and tendency toward violence, sexual obsession or drug addiction, remember you're the child of a people whose rights and rich culture were disregarded with these same claims.

When politicians talk about the problem of world hunger, about how the economics of the wealthy and well-fed cannot be threatened by the distribution of food to the desperate, remember you are the child of a people left to die when their one crop failed, while food was exported from their island for the profit of the wealthy and well-fed.

When political leadership or wealth come to you and circumstance and ego call you to indulge in the exercise of power for the sake of the powerful alone, remember you are the child of a people who long suffered under such tyrants.

My friend, you and I, the children of the Irish scattered around the globe, have a special honor and obligation each March 17. The honor is we get to watch the world celebrate — however misdirected and uninformed it may be for most — one of history's most brave and charismatic and democratic figures, our figure, the shepherd-slave Patricius who became St. Patrick. We eat the meals, watch the parades, and go to the pubs and know that, while the guests are happy, this party belongs to us.For me, that's always been a source of pride.

But with that pride comes the obligation, the debt we owe the men and women who faced swords, tyrants and hunger and determined to live, to somehow find a way to create us, and that obligation is simple:

Remember who you are.

John Carberry, the grandson of Jack O'Cairbre and Katie O'Brien of Cappamore, County Limerick, is the state editor of the Watertown Daily Times.

No comments: