Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Irish

 You'd think this would be a time to blog about Afghanistan, but it actually might be more timely, in a Sherlockian blog, to write about the Irish. Like many a Northern-European mutt, Ireland made it into my bloodline, so I've always had an interest in the Irish. As, plainly, did Arthur Conan Doyle. It was in his blood as well.

There is so much of the Irish in the Sherlock Holmes stories, from "a devil's brew of Irish civil war, window-breaking Furies, and God know what" to McMurdo having "an Irish tongue in his head." Famous soldiers, "dancing Irish deviltry" in a lover's eyes, and Sherlock Holmes going Irish to foil a German plot. As much as Conan Doyle depicted South Americans as all hot blood and good looks, the Irish are shown in all their passionate loves and hatreds.

I remember a piece I read some time back about how the Irish tendency toward certain addictions was actually genetically bred into them over time by being a land constantly fighting occupation. Century after century of rebels gave birth to a breed of folk born to charge into battle, and when no battles existed, they had to so something to quell those furies. It seemed to make sense.

This morning, I happened across a piece in The Atlantic by a man whose military service was years of listening to the other side communicating with each other on the radio, and what he learned of that people, who, much like the Irish of old, had been fighting occupation for a very, very long time.

I don't know about you, but when things really get bad, especially when I was younger, I'd tell myself things to puff up my spirits and keep myself going. Whether it was that I was stronger, smarter, or better looking than I actually ever was, I'd tell myself whatever little lies were needed to get out of bed and on to the next thing. And that is what the listener to that adversary heard. The spirit of a people that had to do whatever they could to keep going. And it reminded me a little of the Irish of old. Something that seems to show up sometimes even in the blood of an American mutt like myself.

Of course, centuries of war also keep people from evolving socially when they're busy fighting, so when the fighting is done, you're left with some pretty messed up people. And what comes of that isn't pretty. Lord knows the Irish have been a troublesome bunch over the years. Even though Conan Doyle didn't portray Professor Moriarty, the great criminal mastermind, as Irish, he does still have that very Irish name, doesn't he? Messed up indeed.

There are times when we like to think of our enemies as something less than people. Even among our own countrymen, right now, we look at some who call themselves "patriots" and see something lesser. Some of them are waving the flag to line their pockets, of course. But some are telling themselves what they need to tell themselves what they think they need to get through another day, even if it's taking them down a very unhealthy path. The human race remains much as it has been, which is probably why the stories of Sherlock Holmes always ring so true to us, even now, connecting us in ways we don't always understand.

And we all keep doing what we can, dealing with our fellow man as best we can. Like the man once said, "We can but try -- the motto of the firm."

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