Friday, March 17, 2017
Today is St Patrick's Day; hence I am decked in green, have cooked up a Guinness-based meal, and am looking forward to a decent indulgence in Irish whisky tonight. I have never been to Ireland, and am only one-16th Irish. All I know about my Irish great-great grandmother (despite living with her grandson, my granddad for over two years) is that her name was Alice, she had red hair, and she was Irish. I could have learnt more about my history, but despite being given the advice AT THE TIME to do that very thing, I did not. Which just goes to prove that you can't tell young people anything.
So I am celebrating a religious, nation day which I absolutely cannot claim a right to, and reflecting on the sadly commercialised nature of all of our holidays. I am clearly guilty of participating in this nonsense, but I believe that really, it is about craving something more meaningful. As a committed atheist, I am not specifically sad about the religion being taken out of formerly religious festivities; but I would rather join in religion than in capitalism.
I do not believe humanity requires gods, but I do believe it requires celebration. And I am not just being hedonistic. No really, I'm not! Pure hedonism is empty, unfulfilling, and frankly, dull. Societies create festivals because we need an outlet for hedonism, but we also need meaning, and we need each other. A festival is more than just a party; it evokes a shared consciousness, a connection with our fellow-man, and yes, a spiritualism, that we all need to feel. Festivals bring a desirable check to hedonism - by giving it set outlets - as well as a purpose.
I am anti-capitalism for moral reasons - the requirement for continuous "growth" (of profits) in a capitalist system creates the requirement to continually find new workers, markets and environments to exploit. Most importantly to me, it is an inherently unfair system; and I cannot accept preventable inequality in my world. But I am also anti-capitalism for aesthetic reasons. There is something just so grubby, so anti-social, so un-beautiful about taking a human celebration, and using it to sell stuff.
Despite an interest in my heritage, I am not particularly nostalgic: I look to the future. And in my fantasy future, in our anarcho-socialist-eco-feminist-utopia (yes, I am a crazy optimist), we will figure out a way to celebrate properly; without recourse to imaginary higher-beings, but with depth of feeling. (And still, as tonight, with plenty of the consumable type of "spirits".)
So, happy St Patrick's Day all! May you celebrate with friends, family and feeling.