Recent Posts

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cancers in the Culture from an American Point of View


Two articles in this morning's Irish Times refer to themes on this blog. The first is a semi-humorous, but serious article on stereotyping national characteristics, or, in other words, national racism. As an American, I am aware of these strange undercurrents in Ireland of disparaging remarks toward other nations, as well as the Irish "taking the mickey" out of their own. The sad and boring beliefs, it seems among some Europeans, as well as some Americans, concerning the base, supposed nasty habits of those who are not of the same ethnic background as themselves, have lost all reality, in my mind, as national characteristics may or may not be real. The truth of national characteristics may be found more in the positive expressions, rather than the negative. For example. on this tiny island, one can see a heritage of poetry and song, which is also shared with the slightly larger island to the east. Dare I say that the Irish and the British have something in common? Perhaps this is the problem, that the emphasis on stereotypes is merely an effort at defining differences. But, why can't we use definitions, or descriptions which are positive rather than negative? And, to add a historical wrinkle to the question, in Medieval times, when Europe was the Faith and the Faith Europe, when Christendom existed as a reality more cohesive than the EU, were there national stereotypes before nationalism? I suggest that stereotyping is a form of secular nationalism, not merely nationalism. If we were all related by a common religion, such as the Catholicism of Christendom, would we be telling Irish jokes, for example, or Polish ones, etc.?

The second article is one I barely know how to address. Monday is the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the times to which I inferred earlier on this blog, which needs to be marked by the spirit of forgiveness, rather than the re-living of a terrible crisis. The past is full of massacres, wars, individual murders, hatred. To keep "celebrating" a day with the idea of never forgetting seems to fester this hatred rather than to resolve, repent, forgive. There are days of victory in wars which even the Catholic Church celebrates. I think we need to celebrate victories hard-won and noble. There are weird celebrations in England on Guy Fawkes Day, which is blatantly anti-Catholic. But, one must look at the differences of these "remembrances". Does it help a country to grow, thrive, move on by celebrating hatred? Of course, we must honor the dead, the victims. But, to keep the hatred brewing is a sure sign of a cancer in the culture.

If a people hate another nation as an enemy, that group is not free, Freedom rests in forgiveness and reconciliation. To hold on to the hatred destroys the hearts of those who hate.

I refer you to my previous post of January 20th.

2 comments:

jean said...

This is a wonderful post with many deep points to ponder on, but my comment is about a passing comment you made. Guy Fawkes Day in England is NOT 'blatantly anti-Catholic'! I grew up in England as a Catholic and went to a Catholic School. We celebrated GF as much as anyone else. It is just a excuse to have a bonfire and fireworks. It happened so long ago that most people have forgotten what we are celebrating. I was grown up before I realised he was a Catholic...and Guy Fawkes WAS a terrorist after all. let's not look for insults where they are not intended!

Supertradmum said...

Jean,

Thank you for your comment, but I think that burning the Pope in effigy is anti-Catholicism. Can you imagine any group doing this to any other "religious" leader, let us say Mohammed?