Last year I posted a piece that was semi-optimistic about the situation in Northern Ireland titled "26 + 6 = 1" (read here).
What a difference a year makes.
Two British Soldiers were murdered Saturday March 7th and a police officer, Stephen Carroll, was shot down March 9th by two separate splinter groups of the supposedly disarmed IRA (read here). People of the "north" need to brace themselves for a long summer of curfews, harassment and violence. Although people on both sides are condemning the violence this was bound to happen. As long as an occupying force continues to occupy the animosity never leaves (lesson to US: get out of Iraq ASAP). No one living on the Island of Ireland, Catholic or Protestant, Unionist or Republican thought the peace would be lasting.
There is a line in the movie "The Departed" where Matt Damon's character turns to his girlfriend when discussing their relationship and says "If we're not going to make it it'll have to be you that gets out. I'm fucking Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong the rest of my life". This sums up the Irish psyche as much as any quote I've ever heard. There is a somber, resignation about the human condition that is ingrained in every person boastful of their Irish heritage. If it wasn't an Irishman that came up with the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same" I'd be genuinely shocked.
How do the Irish deal with their jaded and skeptical outlook on life? Living life to its fullest, living life like there's no tomorrow and by finding humor in the darkest of situations. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die" is the mantra many Irish live by.
My wife sent me this joke today.
*An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub
and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but
serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.*
*An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.
This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks
three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering
about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.*
*Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the
town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you
always order three beers?"*
*"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies. "You see, I have two brothers, and
one went to America, and the other to Australia . We promised each other
that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of
keeping up the family bond."*
*The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon
the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride
to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch
*Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender
pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening.
He orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered
for the soul of one of the brothers.*
*The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first
of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You
know-the two beers and all"*
*The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear
that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have
decided to give up drinking for Lent."*
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!