I want to wish all of my readers and supporters a very HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY! I hope that you are surrounded by good friends, imbibe responsibly on green beer, and that when you say, "Kiss me - I'm Irish", someone actually takes you up on the offer! Please avoid participating in any "donnybrooks"1, however. I have friends in just about every city, and I don't want you punching someone I care about.
St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays, primarily because it engenders a spirit of universal acceptance among participating party-goers. I grew up just outside Chicago and have seen them dye the river Kelly green every year. I also remember Mayor Richard J. Daley (the late father of the current mayor) saying that "Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day". As far as I can tell, everyone seems proud to adopt that pretended heritage, if only as an excuse to kiss a beautiful stranger. And why not?
One of the long existing problems with humankind is an unhealthy tendency towards tribalism or xenophobia2 - the idea that anyone who isn't very much like us is a threat to our safety or cultural traditions. What ever happened to, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"? I don't approve of, or pretend to understand that psychology, but I'm thrilled when that tendency disappears for at least twenty-four hours every spring. So instead of Lighting the fires of Liberty today, please hoist a glass of green beer and sing a few rousing choruses of "Danny Boy" with a group of people you've never met before. Your Irish carousing will go a long way to restoring the sense of compassionate humanity that Americans seem to have misplaced recently.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
1 don·ny·brook (don'e-brook')
n. An uproar; a free-for-all.
After Donnybrook fair, held annually in Donnybrook, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, and noted for its brawls.
2 xen·o·pho·bi·a [zen-uh-foh-bee-uh]
an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers