St. Patrick’s day nationalism

St Patrick Pug
St. Patrick pug

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. My Irish Catholic mother loved it. She joyfully danced around the kitchen and put green food coloring in the center of our grapefruit. I wish I had shared her delight but it is more likely that I had a teenager’s disdain for such corniness.

It is sometimes said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day. It has become a marketer’s holiday with chotchkes, hats, and enough made-in-China plastic geegaws to choke an ocean. Although the original intention was light-hearted and unifying, corporations can’t resist a ploy to make cash registers ring.

Nationalism has never appealed to me and this year, in the age of Trump, it is particularly troubling.

With Donald Trump looking on today, Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny, spoke about Irish immigration to the United States during the famine, and their attitude years before John F. Kennedy famously said “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Mr. Kenny’s comments encourage us to remember our legacy.

Ethnic diversity is one reason that I love living in Chicago and near Uptown, one of the most diverse wards in the city. Rubbing shoulders with other cultures and learning about their religions, their cuisines, and their customs enriches my life.

Our country will be better when we welcome and value those who want to pursue opportunities and happiness here, just as we do those who arrived on the Mayflower.

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