kitchen table math, the sequel: my genes made me do it

Sunday, October 7, 2007

my genes made me do it

So...I had a little Scots-Irish moment back there....

And to understand the [Scots-Irish] . . . one must comprehend their journey, which has been not simply one of hardship or disappointment, but rather of frequent and bitter conflict. These conflicts, from which they have never in two thousand years of history retreated, have followed a historically consistent cycle of, among other things, a values-based combativeness, an insistent egalitarianism, and a refusal to be dominated from above, no matter what the cost.
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America
James Webb

I had never heard of the Scots Irish until I encountered Webb's book when it came out - I had no idea that such an animal as the Scots-Irish existed; I certainly had no idea I was one myself.

I had always thought, vaguely (educated by wolves) that I was "British" or, alternatively, "Wasp."

This was confusing.

I'd hear those great Wasp jokes* and, yes, they'd remind me of me; they sounded exactly like me, in fact, comparing me to my Jewish in-laws.

But after that, confusion. I just didn't seem to possess the reserve we Wasps were supposed to be famous for.

Born Fighting was a revelation.

Every last page was a revelation.

Two thousand years of bitter conflict!

From which the Scots-Irish have never retreated!

.... values-based combativeness, an insistent egalitarianism, and a refusal to be dominated from above, no matter what the cost ..... ("You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you.")

woo hoo!

Reading this stuff, I thought, Gosh. That explains a lot.

* the ones that are "really about Jews"


Anonymous said...

Braveheart was an awesome movie.

Catherine Johnson said...

That's what my sister says.

I'm too scared to watch the thing.

Too much damn blood.

I am a poor excuse for a warrior-breed like the S-I, I must say.

Catherine Johnson said...

I just got the cussedness and the imperviousness to defeat.

Catherine Johnson said...

I was emailing with one of you guys this week, trying to explain why "picking my battle" didn't apply in a particular situation.

I think my reasons were fairly logical, but reading this passage from Webb again I have to wonder whether the real reason is that I don't care if I lose.

I have some deep, dark Genetic Memory egging me on: What the hell. It's been 2000 years, what's another half dozen or so?

Catherine Johnson said...

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about my mom.

She's stubborn as a mule, and one time she said, "I can be led, but don't push me."

That's all of us, the whole family.

(With the possible exception of MY SISTER, R. ---- ARE YOU OUT THERE, R???)

oops, sorry

that was wrong

ok, my point was: the whole family is pretty cooperative, sociable, gregarious, up for fun, and it's fine with us if somebody else picks the spot.

But we hate being pushed.