March 14, 2016

By Arthur H. Gunther III

One good-natured joke as we approach St. Patrick’s Day is that if you want to read in Heaven, saddle up to an Irishman or woman for the titles, but if you wish to concentrate, hide behind a tree, for the wee leprechauns in the Irish soul will have your mentor gabbing and gabbing and telling jokes. Now, if you have green in yourself as well, you can always write a tale about it all.

The really wonderful thing about America is its diversity and what each group, and the morphed individual, offers. Included in this diversity are the only original inhabitants, the Native Americans. All the rest of us technically hold Green Cards or are the descendants of those forced into slavery.

Our diversity continues into the country’s fourth century, for the nation has never been a true melting pot, except where cultures have blended through marriage, close neighborhoods and succeeding generations that are U.S.-born. Ethnic traditions thrive even 100 or so years after the first immigrant ancestor in a particular family arrives, and that is to the good since who wants everyone to be the same, and there is much to learn from cultures we do not know firsthand.

That is, of course, if prejudice is overcome, if there is room at the table for all. Another word for prejudice — “preconceived opinion” — is ignorance. The irony is that some of the so-called “educated” among us cash in on prejudice by stewing a pot of bubbling fear over lost jobs, social service costs, discontent, all societal ills, jealously and the special type of ignorance that is socially learned. The rabble-rousers make mischief for their own ends and well use crowd psychology to do so. History is full of such example. Watch the faces at Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies or in “Triumph of the Will,” his mesmerizing propaganda film. Pied pipers walking straight to hell. (Hmm … remove a particular vowel and consonant from that first film title word and you get? …)

Now a fine day for all the good Irish coming up March 17, my late, sainted Irish mom’s birthday, you see. “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back.” And another Irish blessing, meant for all of us, green or not: “… and bless each door that opens wide to stranger as to kin. …” Room at the table, you see, like upstairs in Heaven, reading a book with an Irishman or not.

  The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via This essay may be reproduced.