BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
'F THE Irish should consider HE their "militaristic" national anthem with a more appropriate Irish hymn of peace, according to a Jesuit priest in Dublin.
Fr. Michael MacGreil, national chaplain of the Irish section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement, criticized the overemphasis on militarism and violence in Irish culture. He called for channelling the patriotic zeal, social idealism and energy of Irish youth into more constructive and nonviolent protest and action.
The gun and the bomb have become "national sacramentals" in some of Ireland's folklore, he said. The ballads and songs of the Irish—both North and South—were quasimilitary and martial.
Ireland's national anthem, "A Soldier's Song," begin with the line "Soldiers are
we . ." and includes references to bullets flying, guns firing, death and glory.
ROMANTIC GLAMOUR Fr. MacGreil said far too much romantic glamour had been attached to the raid and the ambush in popular accounts of Ireland's struggle for independence. This emphasised violent aggression more than sacrifice.
The educational system in Ireland also appeared to be developing aggression by stressing competition in examinations and sports rather than co-operation.
He went on: "Many would say that our young men are really being reared for their place in the aggressive and competitive capitalist system, our dominant economic ideology. I think some of our male group games develop a rather brutal type of aggression which is popularly identified with manliness."
In Ireland now, Fr. MacGreil said, there seemed to be an appeal to young people to dedicate themselves to a violent mode of social action for social reform and redressing wrongs.
'GRAVEYARD PEACE' Although the generous but misguided response of some young people was understandable, it should not be condoned. "In my opinion these young people are going to destroy the very thing they are setting out to create—a just and peaceful society. Violence invariably leads to the peace of the graveyard."
The fault was not always with the young militarists or with their overzealouR leaders. It also lay with the established leaders.
These leaders did not listen to non-violent voices protesting against the deprivation and inbuilt injustices of society, the violence of poor housing, quasi-destitute widows, deprived migrants and discrimination. The suppression of non-violent protest was an invitation to violent protest.
Fr. MacGreil said familiarity with the violence in the United States had been spread in Irish culture and continued to "decivilise" Ireland. Irish society would not have suffered if its censors had been more vigilant on this aspect. which was "much more degrading than pornography."
Religious leaders could also be more critical of the barbarous influence of violence in Irish society. They should campaign for "demythologising" violence in Irish culture