My Green Name Tag – the joy of celebrating cultures
I have a green name tag that hangs off my purple collar. Not by accident – Handsome loves the way those colors look against my orange and white fur.
This usually doesn’t mean a thing to me (remember we dogs are color-blind!), but there’s one day a year I’m really glad I wear something green. That’s St. Patrick’s Day.
On this holiday, at least here in the United States, there’s a tradition that everyone is supposed to “wear the green.” And if you don’t, people have the right to pinch you.
Well I DON’T LIKE GETTING PINCHED! It hurts, and I’m not allowed to bite anyone back if they do it! So I’m glad my name tag keeps this problem away.
But just recently, I started wondering, what’s the big deal about this color? And why should St. Patrick, not a super-important saint in the history of Christianity, get a holiday, when… oh, say, Peter, Paul, and Mary don’t. (Hey, look what I just did! If you’re old enough, or a fan of 1960’s folk music, you’ll see I just made a sort of joke. And if you don’t get it, do a search for “Peter Paul and Mary” and listen to some of the most gorgeous popular singing ever recorded!)
So anyway, I did some research about this day. And I found that it’s on the day St. Patrick is said to have died. And the green is because it’s a color associated with Ireland, where he brought his religion. And the holiday is to honor the Irish people and their culture.
But wait. I live in a country known as a “melting pot,” where almost every culture of the world exists. Why is this day such a big deal?
Well, it seems that centuries ago, tons of Irish fled their homeland in the face of famine and oppression, and came to America. And they wanted to honor their heritage, so over time, it became a holiday for everyone here – and now over most of the world.
So in other words, even if you’re a Moroccan-Serbian-Singaporean Sikh, you’re still supposed to wear green on the 17th of March, to show pride in your Irishness. Because they were desperate refugees. And dance to Irish music, and eat and drink their food, and just have the best time you can – all to honor something you’re not!
Silly? Yeah, kinda.
And, I think, also kind of fantastic.
Most of the horrors of human history have been perpetrated because one group of people sees another as “different” or “the other.” How great to have a day where everyone’s Irish. Wouldn’t it also be great to have a day where everyone is Nigerian? Pakistani? How about a day when everyone’s some other refugee from a starving oppressed nation their country happens to be welcoming? Hey how about if one day everyone was Israeli and the next day Palestinian? Might people find it a little harder to blow each other up if they’d just had a party where they danced to those people’s music, ate their traditional foods, and – yes – drank their drinks too?!
I’ll make you a deal. If you humans start doing this, I’ll agree to dress as a CAT one day a year; I’ll even eat tuna, scratch on a couch, and poop in a litter box! All for the cause of world peace!
But till that day, I do hope you all get a chance to enjoy at least a little of St. Pat’s this year. Dance an Irish jig. Eat some cabbage and potatoes. Drink some beer (if you can and should). And raise a toast to your favorite Irishpeople ever (James Joyce? John Wayne? Enya? Hey this pup is a total sucker for the voice of Bing Crosby!)! And may the road rise to meet ya!
So my dear dear friends, I wrote all that earlier this week. Then this morning I awoke to the sound of Handsome’s clock radio, to as heartbreaking a story as I’ve ever heard. You’ve probably heard it already: In the beautiful town of Christchurch, New Zealand (yes, the town has THAT name!), some people took it on themselves to bring guns into some mosques where holy prayers were in session, and kill as many Muslims as they could. This wasn’t out of a personal resentment; they were openly acting in this insanity called White Nationalism, trying to get rid of as many people who didn’t look like them as possible. (And to clear their country of refugees – as though white people were the original inhabitants of those gorgeous islands, and not immigrants into Maori land themselves)
So on the same weekend people worldwide join each other in playing at “We’re All Irish,” we’re hearing yet once more the vicious scream of “You’re different, so we hate you!”
(And I promise you, it brings nothing but sadness and shame to America that one of the shooters hailed our President as a symbol of their movement)
Think of it this way. On a purely biological level, every human is more like every other human than any of you is like any dog or cat or cow or bird. And yet nearly every one of you I’ve met has loved an animal to the furthest limits of your heart. This talk about difference, superiority, inferiority? It’s all just… just what I’ll leave in a litter box when that cat holiday gets going.
Please, it’s just so simple: Love everyone you can. And those you can’t love, just like. And those you can’t like, tolerate. And if we all can do that, it’ll all be okay.
In fact, remember when I accidentally mentioned that singing trio earlier? I’ll end this with a quote from I guess their most famous recording, which happened to be written by a man who as an adult changed his surname to one more… Irish!
“How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”