For those who had the good sense to homebrew a batch of Irish Stout a few months ago, as this writer and his brother did, Saint Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to break out a couple of bottles. For others, traditions of drinking Genesis, green beer, and Irish whiskey at a local pub will just have to do.
For those who do not, or cannot, drink, having a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is a recent tradition that also offers a means for people to indulge during the mid-Lent Christian holiday that offers practitioners a reprieve from their fasting.
Saint Patrick’s Day 2015 takes place on a Tuesday, which is the same day of the week as Election Day for Americans while it is this year’s actual Election Day in Israel, where religion plays a significant role in contentious politics. To boot, 2015 will be the first year since the mid-1990’s Irish politicians stay at home instead of meeting with the US President.
Unfortunately, political dysfunction and division throughout the world is creating a global situation where governments are creating problems instead of solving them.
On the other hand, the real life story of Saint Patrick offers a lesson for self-serving, uncooperative politicians. Although myth, conflicting stories, and incomplete historical records surround the story of Saint Patrick, it is about a man who served the poor and enslaved, along with all others.
Looking beyond the Christian nature of Saint Patrick’s mission, he was a social leader who served the People, as modern people now expect from government, at a time when the People were expected to serve the ruling elite.
Saint Patrick was kidnapped at the age of 16 and enslaved for 6 years before he escaped. Instead of damning and hating those who mistreated him, he immediately began training to return to Ireland upon his escape in order to bring a warrior culture peace, stability, and respect for weaker members of their communities.
Although on a Christian mission, the social reforms Saint Patrick brought to Ireland fit into our modern democratic ideals. For political leaders who have regressed away from the modern view that government exists to serve the People, a figure like Saint Patrick should serve as a role model.
Furthermore, it is how Saint Patrick pursued his mission that matters. While Saint Patrick rejected gifts from his fellow aristocrats, i.e. he did not lead for his own personal gain, he was able to successfully convert wealthy nobles away from the indulgences of a lavish, self-serving lifestyle to the humble, giving existence of nuns and priests.
Instead of forcing his views onto nonbelievers and condemning those who were reluctant to accept his Faith, Saint Patrick used their traditions and comprehension of the world, such as the use of fire in religious events, to introduce Christian teachings. In doing so, he avoided unnecessary conflict, yet managed to pursue his mission. When he was beaten, robbed, and imprisoned, he endured; he did not betray his mission out of convenience.
In turn, Saint Patrick was able to demonstrate the peace, stability, and prosperity, which comes from serving the needs of all, is far more beneficial than living to indulge one’s own whims. For social and political leaders of our modern era, the occasional beer is fine, but the world is far better when serving others instead of continually serving one’s self.
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