What Can Leprechauns Teach Us About Our Approach To Government?

The legend of the leprechaun is as much a part of St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. as corned beef and cabbage. Like other American pop-culture icons, the leprechaun has been retooled, reimagined, and reconstituted until it resembles very little its original form. If we remember the roots of this mischievous fairy of Irish folklore though, the leprechaun stands as a warning against dealings with wee men in gaudy suits promising gold at the ends of rainbows.

As with any mystical creature, there are rules in dealing with leprechauns… and governments.

Rule 1: Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Him

Leprechauns are tricky little buggers. Everyone knows this. They are masters of deception and misdirection. Take nothing the leprechaun says at face value and be especially wary of any promises he makes to you.

Rule 2: Leprechauns Are Proud Extortionists

Leprechauns are cobblers by trade. They will cast around your town looking for shoes to repair. If a leprechaun appears at your door, he will expect you to have shoes for him to repair in exchange for gold. If you do not desire his service and do not surrender him gold for this service, he will curse your home with bad luck. You may even inspire the wrath of the entire Leprechaun Kingdom, and misfortune may greet you around every corner.

Rule 3: Beware The Unintended Consequences

If you think you are cunning enough to see through the misdirection of the leprechaun, and you trust yourself enough to wield the power of the leprechaun’s wishes, remember you aren’t and you shouldn’t. What at first seems a great wish, (free shoes for all) comes with consequences the leprechaun did not disclose, (failure of all non-leprechaun cobbling business and a leprechaun monopoly on enchanted shoes which make the wearer dance on command).

Rule 4: The Leprechaun Always Keeps His Gold

If you “catch” a leprechaun he may offer you his pot of gold in exchange for his freedom. There is nothing the leprechaun loves more than his gold. Know that any ruse he puts-on claiming to offer you the pot of gold is fantasy or extortion (see rule 2). Either he already knows how he will get his gold back from you or his offer includes strings you cannot see (see rule 3).

Rule 5: The Leprechaun Knows You Are Greedy

The power and the wealth of the leprechaun hold an allure for many. Individuals may spend their lives dreaming of the good they could do if only they could get those three wishes and a pot of gold. Those who get this chance often lose sight of their good intentions and leave themselves and society worse off. The leprechaun sees to that. Anything too good to be true is neither good nor true. Proceed with caution.

So this St. Patty’s Day eat and drink with friends and family; belt Irish folk music from the highest cliffs; feast upon boiled meat and potatoes; but stay weary of wee men in coat-tails promising you the world.