Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Iraq? Don't Get Me Started...

     When thinking about our continuing occupation in Iraq I always think of two quotes which I found to be true: 
When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. -Dorothy Thompson (1894-1961) American Newspaper Columnist
"If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I never would lay down my arms,- never! never! never!" -William Pitt, Earl of Chatham,  during a speech November 18, 1777
     These are, in essence, the basis of my opinion.  For democracy to prevail in such a war-torn country as Iraq, they must propagate their own form of a democratic society. This may not necessarily match our version in the U.S. Few countries have such a difficult set of decisions to make concerning how to be fair to all religious groups inhabiting their land and make any form of democracy work. How does one make democracy work in such an environment ? Most religions work upon some mutual goals: respect for other religions, commonalities in philosophies and personal deportment, working for the common good even among widely-differing opinions. Radical Islam is a rare exception to this rule and intolerance is rampant and militant in most cases. The basis of their religion in many respects is undemocratic.
      So what is the answer?
      I believe that democracy requires that the governed body of people have important points of contact in like-mindedness. They must respect a specific set of rights- whatever they determine those to be. They do not necessarily need to share the same culture. (The U.S. couldn't be more culturally diverse, right?) They need to appreciate all cultures and find ways to accommodate others.
     Militarism needs to be set aside. That won't happen as long as the United States Armed Forces reside in Iraq, it's as simple as that. Look at the type of societies run on militarism and you can see what kind of environment it creates. N. Korea, Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, etc. Iraq has not actually changed much and it won't as long as we're there. They need to create a society that is intolerant of fascist states of mind and ways of governing. They need a real and kind leader to step up to the plate. I don't know if they have such a person but they need one.
      The United States had George Washington. Any prospects Iraq ?
The Castle Lady sends out lots of encouragement !

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Remember when self image meant nothing?

Remember when fun was "king" ?

Spring has sprung so let's have fun !

The Castle Lady ; )

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's That Day Again !

Sla'inte is ta'inte !
(pron. slawn-chuh iss tawn-chuh)
If you've never heard this quote, you will if you ever celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Ireland. For many years now the Irish have made their way to New York to celebrate because the type of celebrating we make here in the States was so different than what they allowed on their own shores. That's of the past now since they recently voted for an official holiday in Ireland making a St. Patrick's Day to rival our own.

You're probably thinking that I have a wee bit of Irish in me and you would be right- on both sides of my parentage. I think that makes it official.

Something I have never understood- until recently- is how words like hooligan came to be thought of as Irish. The ironic part of this is that it came from an Irish name which was originally O' hUallachain. In English we say Houlihan which eventually morphed into hooligan when a rowdy street gang run by a family of that same name terrorized London during the 1890s. Even a song was circulated in the pubs making that name stick officially for any hoodlum.

The English probably knew how to deal with a slew (sluagh, Gaelic for crowd or army) of hooligans. Just break their pints of ale to smithereens ( from Gaelic, smidirini) and put the kibosh (from Gaelic, cie bais) on their drinking galore. (from Gaelic, gu leor)

Now here's a word you might not expect and it even surprised me! Cairn is an Irish word you don't hear very often and possibly not at all on American shores. A cairn is a pile of stones set up as a landmark, monument or possibly even a grave. St. Patrick is buried along with another saint underneath such an edifice. I wrote very recently about these curiosities on my Castlelady Live Space in January. If you read the entry which was titled "Castlerigg, Stonehenge and other Stone Circles" you'll recall that I mentioned Carnac in Brittany, France.

The similarity of the words did not escape my attention and I'm sure you noticed it, too. What you may not know, however is that Ireland and Brittany do not belong in the same branch of Celts. I can hear you ask, "There's more than one?" yes. The Celts are, in fact, made up of two families. The Irish, Scottish Highlanders and the Manx (Isle of man) are of the Goidelic branch,- the true Gaels. The Welsh, Bretons and Cornish are of the Brythonic branch who spoke the Briton language. You will find variations between the Brythonic languages which make these quite different even amongst their own but what you normally don't see are the words that suddenly appear quite alike- such as cairn and carn- outside their respective branches.

You learn something new everyday !
Happy Saint Patrick's Day everybody !