Day 2 of a 5-day short story series by K.G. Watson
“My second collection of evidence supporting the claim that Patrick’s reputation was abducted is this,” Liam said as he laid it out. “Gene expression can be affected by social situations. The field is evolving, but there is enough evidence to support that the Irish have been trying to break free of oppression since the get-go. I use Brian Boru to illustrate even though he is from about 1002 CE – 600 years after Patrick. But he makes my point. Irish had been struggling long before then, and I think that fighting for national identity was alive and well when Patrick was walking the hills.”
McNeil looked askance at the packet that Liam had picked off the floor. “The topic is called ‘Epigenetics. It was not known until about 50 years ago, but it gains credibility with yet more evidence every day. I offer these results from Holland.” Thud!
“By using these data in my thesis, I am bringing the field out of the realm of legend and opening new avenues for future research. You told me that should be a goal of my research.”
McNeil nodded agreement but hated the fact that he could no longer keep up with his pupil if he opened that door.
“You’ll get a lot of pushback going that route, young man.”
“Well, I thought this was supposed to be a research project,” Liam stressed the adjective. “If established authority is only going to accept its own evidence, does it not stop being what it was required to be?”
“I’m simply saying,” McNeil blustered. “Go on.”
“Well, new research will come up again, but more obliquely. Let me come back to it later.”
Liam paused to get his thoughts back on track. “In every Irish case I’ve read, the hero is one who supports independence of thought. Patrick stands out for the souls he has rescued by bringing them to the Christian God rather than his bringing disparate tribes together. Oddly, those first references are from ecclesiastical sources who would benefit from having such a hero on their side. Here’s a person of such stature that he is a national hero. On the one hand, he is claimed to be almost messianic in his godliness; on the other, he is revered for standing against forces of oppression that the first side definitely was. The defeat of pagan religion was the objective of the early Christian Church in Ireland. To do that, they chose to defeat their adversary by making him seem to become one of them. He drove the poisonous snakes from Ireland, say those looking to credit him with a miracle. We know from centuries of scientific study there never were any there. Those who sought to control Ireland had pasted a veneer of stories over him as they turned him into a hero of the oppressors.”
And they wrap up their arguments by referring to written records, often from centuries later, as proof of how virtuous Patrick was. Those writers and readers had forgotten the source of the Irish national wisdom. Willfully blind, they gazed past evidence which we can now see and which reveals their abduction.