In a world where political correctness rules, should I feel vilified on St Patricks Day?
I mean, C'mon - Irish jokes for starters. Little stout men with orange beards and green clothes looking for gold at the end of the rainbow. What are you trying to say about the Irish?
"Whaddya mean - you're an Aussie Baz" we are all Aussies.
Well yes, we are. But I see an awful lot of people holding onto things from their home countries, getting all cut up about racism and ill treatment - is it asking too much if the Irish could get a little sensitive too!!
My family history in recent times is littered with surnames like Harrington, Bourke, Flynn, Cunneen, Ryan and Porter. They came from places like Tipperary, Ballycahill, Cork, Clare and Leinster. They had names like Moll, Patrick, Mary, Maureen, Kathleen, Dan, Moira, Barry and...well Patrick again. My boys names are Ronan and Liam. One of my daughters name is Rose Kathleen. It has been hard to let go!!
Even as recently as the 1970's and 1980's they still lived in little Irish Enclaves in Parramatta and Campbelltown. They had their own sayings, their own Churches, huge families, they got drunk and they fought. But they also loved, prayed and forgave.
Am I going to blame it on the potato famine!! The persecution at the hands of the English in the penal colony? The fact that the Anglicans called us rockchoppers?
No. We were just another wave of immigrants. And if you look at the Maltese, the Greeks, the Italians, the Middle Eastern people and the Pacific Islanders the pattern is exactly the same. The arrival, the enclaves, the strange customs and religions, the skirmishes with the 'real aussies'and then.....eventually assimilation. The only real Australians are the Aboriginals and they came from somewhere too.
So what am I saying? Racism may be stupid and Xenophobia may be the work of the devil himself but we just fuel it when we get overly sensitive about it. When I was at school the best way to beat a bully was to ignore them or deck them, and either way usually took care of the problem and then we were mates. And that's what always happens eventually. Don't give the extremists fuel and the fire dies out on both sides.
So when people tell Irish jokes, drink Irish drinks and generally generalise about the Irish on Saint Patricks day, I don't feel offended. St Patrick changed that nation and laid out a path for the light of Christ to enter a dark place at the time. I think a lot of my laidback, easy goingness is part of that Irish DNA, so if you want to call that 'simple' then I'm ok with that. Because I'm one of millions of people whose family recently came to this 'lucky country' and have been blessed to live in the freedom and prosperity that we have here. But I don't want that to be at the cost of the next group of immigrants that arrive here. Or I don't want my prosperity to be built on the broken backs of the poor labourers overseas. So I want to remember where I came from, so I can remember to welcome those who God brings to our country, so in Jesus own words I can be the person who see's a "stranger at the door and invites them in". An Aussie is anyone who lives here and our culture is wonderful and diverse because of it.
Let's give God a reason to bless Australia by remembering the 'poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the orphan and the widow'. Because once upon a time that was your family and my family.
I'm off to put on my funny green hat, drink a pint of Guinness and tell a bad joke while watching Father Ted, just so I don't end up taking life too seriously this week.