Monday, November 26, 2012

St. George - Medieval Sheepdog

If it's possible for someone like me - a nonCatholic, nonpracticing Southern Baptist person who believes in God but breaks from most organized religion on many key points - to have a Patron Saint, then Saint George is mine.

640 st-george-on-horseback-1505

I've always had a fondness for the St. George legends. There's a great deal to admire in the man's myth. There are two main story lines associated with St. George, both of which relate directly to challenges we face in modern life today. I'll address my interpretation of the first one in this post, with the second to follow at some point.

Basically, St. George was born in the 3rd Century in the Roman Empire near modern day Syria to a Roman Soldier Father and a Palestinian Mother. His Father died when he was very young and his Mother passed away when he was 14. George followed his Father's career path and rose up through the Roman Army ranks to become a Tribune as he entered his early 20's.

St. George - Medieval Sheepdog

When traveling through the Holy Land as a Roman Soldier, George came upon a city in distress. It seems that a Dragon was terrorizing the citizens of the city by denying them access to their water source and attacking them on a regular basis.

The Monarch of the City decided to pursue a policy of appeasement in regards to the Dragon. Perhaps some of the citizens as well believed that their own prosperity was making them a target of the angry Dragon - their own success bringing the attacks of the Dragon upon themselves, so to speak.

"Maybe," they thought, "if we give the Dragon a regular tribute of sheep then it will just leave us alone."

The plan worked, at least for a while. Before long, though, the supply of sheep began to run out. At the same time, the appetite of the Dragon failed to be completely satisfied by mere sheep. Emboldened by the meek capitulation of the people, the Dragon was in no mood to see the new-norm of easy meals begin to dwindle. The people's fear drew the aggression of the Dragon and the attacks on the city renewed with even more violence and damage.

The solution arrived at by the people and government of the city was to select a virgin girl, by way of lottery, to offer as a regularly scheduled offering to the Dragon. This seemed to satisfy the Dragon quite nicely and peace once again returned to the kingdom - but at an obviously terrible cost.

Eventually, the King's own daughter was selected as the Virginal Tribute during one of the lotteries. The King protested greatly and tried every trick and loophole in the book to save the Princess from the fate many of the city's young girls had already faced. The Princess herself, though, refused to shirk her responsibility and freely accepted her fate.

The people of the city took the Princess to the Dragon's Lair and left her there to await her doom. It is here that George makes his first appearance in the story for which he is best known by most folks. Traveling through the area as a Soldier, George spotted the beautiful Princess beside the Spring as she stood amid the piles of bones from previous human sacrifices.

When he asked her to explain what was going on, she told him the whole story. George couldn't believe what he was hearing. George was a Fighting Man, you see. He could not comprehend why the people would surrender their most precious treasure to the savage teeth of the Dragon without a fight.

The Princess begged him not to interfere. "You'll only make it worse if you intervene," she cried. "You can't hope to defeat the Dragon and you'll be killed as well!"

George would have none of that. So, as the Dragon emerged from its lair with plans to consume yet another beautiful maiden, George attacked it on horseback armed with lance and sword....

640 carpaccio-st-george

You see, George realized what the people of the city and their rulers did not. You don't negotiate with Evil.

You can disagree with people. You can often negotiate compromise when your views don't match up perfectly with the other guys - and you'll both be better for it. But when the chips are down and you are facing the ultimate in stakes...

Its time to put your Big Boy Pants on and Take Care of Business.

640 st george statue

There are rocky days ahead. We've made our bed and we'll have to lay in it - perhaps for a long, long time. Keep your chins up and your heads down and don't ever compromise your principals or your honor.

They may be the only things we have left in the end.

1 comment:

smoky said...

Sadly though, the dragons are multiplying in number as the virgins are dwindling. Maybe we will get a St George (Sarah Palin, Allen West) but will have to slay the dragons(establishment) of our own group first.