March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In the 5th century, a teenage boy of Romano-British origin was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He escaped roughly six years later but returned to Ireland as an ordained Bishop. St. Patrick is credited for spreading Christianity to his pagan captors. The clover, or shamrock, was a sacred plant that symbolized the rebirth of spring. St. Patrick famously used the clover to explain the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He died on March 17, 461 and his life story grew to mythological proportions and is ingrained in Irish culture. He is the patron saint of Ireland and is celebrated in both the secular and non-secular worlds....

Sophia Gilmer

St. Patrick’s Day has been fĂȘted since the 9th century but the first parade took place, not in Ireland, but in the United States on March 17, 1762 when Irish soldiers marched through New York City. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to 1 million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring into America to escape starvation. Unfortunately, they were met with discrimination, despised for their non-Protestant religious beliefs and foreign accents. It did not take long for Irish Americans to realize that their large and ever growing numbers could be used as political power. Their vote and sphere of influence became known as the "green machine” and annual St. Patrick's Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans. Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick's Day, not only in Ireland and the United States, but also in Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and the former Soviet Union. [more]

Fun Facts
  • There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry, which is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.
  • St. Patrick’s voluntary return to Ireland brings up the subject of forgiveness. We can’t all be saints, so in order to forgive; many of us require an apology but there’s something we can do other than holding our breath.

In many instances, a quick and relatively painless apology is transformative and effective means of resolving conflict. It’s pretty straightforward: the offender offers an apology and the offended accepts, but not every apology is accepted. Dorothy J. Della Noce, citing Seiji Takaku (2001) suggests, “A conflict is not resolved when an apology is offered, but when the offended party accepts that apology” and requires empathy. “Empathy must be experienced by, and communicated by, both parties to the conflict, not simply one or the other. In other words, to be effective in resolving conflict, apology and forgiveness are best viewed as interactive processes, not simply one-sided speech events.”

When an offense is made, people tend to blame the behavior or action on the offender’s “bad” character. Takaku’s experiments show that an offended party was more likely to accept an apology, and forgive; when the offended reflects on his or her own “imperfect nature” (p. 506) and empathizes with the offender. It requires empathy to recognize the possibility that the offender may be a fundamentally decent human being who made a poor choice in a difficult situation. If the offended recognizes that he or she may have committed a similar offense and how difficult it was/is to acknowledge fault and to take responsibility for it, the offended is more likely to see the offense as a matter of poor choice and accept the apology, and offer forgiveness.

In this way, we can work towards forgiveness.

Best of luck!

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