‘Prods and masons’

When I arrived in Australia 70 years ago, I was surprised by the sectarian war within Christianity. In British Malaya, the diverse ethno-religious communities lived in mutual tolerance and harmony. We did not transfer any antipathies which may have existed in the various tribal territories ‘back home ‘. Within my Jaffna-Tamil community, mostly Hindu, were 3 Christian sects; we were all close friends.

I soon discovered that the discrimination (not just prejudice) claimed by self-defined Irish Catholics was clearly 2-way! Because I am a Hindu, many of my colleagues in a Catholic-dominated federal public service (during late 1950 to late 1980s) spoke openly (albeit casually) and disparagingly about the ‘prods and masons.’ My ‘beering’ mates in that period included 2 Kennedys and 3 O’Briens.

On a few occasions, I challenged complaining Catholic friends as follows: Swear to me on your Good Book or with hand-on-heart that no male member of your extended family had seduced a Protestant girl and, when she became pregnant, married her (after her conversion to Catholicism); and she had then (presumably) produced the requisite number of Irish Roman Catholics sought by her priest.

Was it not strange that none of those I challenged was willing to so swear? But we remained friends. Did any of them wonder if they, or a near-ancestor, had been produced by an ex-‘prod’.

At a fairly recent party, when a fellow-retiree talked about Irish Catholics having faced discrimination by the prods, I asked him for details of the discrimination actually experienced by his paternal grandfather, father and himself – all 3 having been profession men. Being an honest man, he admitted that none of them had been disadvantaged in their respective careers by being Catholic.

However, he did say (in another context) that, because of his second marriage, he experienced discrimination in church by his priest!

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The value of opinions

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.” (Bill Bullard, quoted by Rev. Dr. Stephanie Dowrick, in the Sydney Morning Herald of 5 Feb. 2018)

Bah! Balderdash and poppycock! What about human rights, especially individual rights, the pillar on which teeters the whole of Western civilisation? Do we not live in a democracy? Do I not have the right to dislike a person – and for no reason other than the fact that I do not like that person – and to express it? Will I not suffer were I to be denied the right to express my feelings publicly?

Yes, yes, yes! I am adequately aware that my suffering may be ameliorated by pharmaceutical condiments available from psychiatrists and the like. But, that is suppression. My opinion shall not be fettered. I am sure there a UN Convention which endorses my right to express my opinion.

Anyway, who would want to live in another’s world? There may be dragons there!

(Thank you Bill and Stephanie)

 

Quotations – Holidays and leisure

Holidays are over-rated disturbances of routine, costly and uncomfortable, and they usually need another holiday to correct their ravages. (E.V. Lucas)

I must confess that I am interested in leisure in the same way that a poor man is interested in money. (Prince Philip)

To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilisation. (Bertrand Russell)

Humorous quotations – Medicine

There could never be any public agreement among doctors if they did not agree to agree on the main point of the doctor being always in the right. (George Bernard Shaw)

The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals. (William Osler)

He said my bronchial tubes were entrancing,
My epiglottis filled him with glee,
He simply loved my larynx
And went wild about my pharynx,
But he never said he loved me. (Cole Porter)

Business quotations – Law

Riches without law are more dangerous than is poverty without law. (Henry Ward Beecher)

We do not get good laws to restrain bad people. We get good people to restrain bad laws. (Chesterton)

The law of England is a very strange one; it cannot compel anyone to tell the truth … But what the Law can do is to give you seven years for not telling the truth. (Charles John Darling)

Politically incorrect British humour

Muslims have gone on the rampage in Birmingham killing anyone who’s English.
Police fear the death toll could be as high as 8 or 9.
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Years ago it was suggested that, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But, since all the doctors are now Muslim, I’ve found that a bacon sandwich works great!
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Police in London have found a bomb outside a mosque…They’ve told the public not to panic as they’ve managed to push it inside.
(Dear, oh, dear!)