I’ll Burn Your Money and Your Flag To Make It Even
May 20, 2008 16 Comments
Society’s increasing secularity disgusts me because people think that in order to maintain that secular veneer, they need to justify shitting on the other people who actually do treasure the spiritual significances of their traditions. Through centuries-old colonialist and imperialist genocide, theft, appropriation, and historical manipulation, the beliefs and cultural symbols of marginalized communities are spit upon by self-appointed demagogues in desperate attempts to legitimize undeserved power. The tradition continues, and I cannot sit on the sidelines any longer and watch people’s beliefs and respect for those beliefs be dismissed as just ink and paper.
The fact of the matter is it’s worse to simply destroy and disgrace an emblem that people value because you can do it. Our society does it constantly with every commercialized effort it undertakes. Constant commodification demands that we divorce the sentimental value of a good from our calculations and substitute a dollar amount that makes it easier to access and to manipulate for the accumulation of power and control. In our personal lives and emotional considerations, we don’t think that way.
The fact of the matter is treating the Qu’ran as “just ink and paper” while holding fast to a linen-papered greenback and placing your hand over your heart in observance of a waving piece of cloth shows the lack of objectivity and neutrality needed to take such a fuck all; revere none position in understanding cultural significance. If you plan on using a symbol or an artifact someone treasures to show your displeasure, you’d better have a damned good reason for doing it instead of crouching behind your own socially-constructed set of valuations backed by the barrel of a gun.
It’s not the fault of the Qu’ran that ceremonies have grown empty. It’s not the fault of the Qu’ran that people spend more time disgracing each other than respecting them. It’s not the fault of the Qu’ran that people kill and displace each other and crouch behind the text for security. Just as it is not the fault of the Constitution of the United States. Or the Bible. Or any other symbol of people’s deeply held beliefs that are just printed on ink and paper, that are mass produced.
The fact of the matter is when you start destroying the symbols of those beliefs thoughtlessly, you are not demonstrating your commitment to your own beliefs. You are demonstrating that belief systems generally are capable of being destroyed to perpetuate your own sick sense of control over another person. You are hiding behind an entitlement you don’t have to impose upon and dehumanize another person who does not want anything to do with you. And the more you destroy other people’s symbols, the more that your own symbols will be unable to help you.
The proper response is respect and work towards peace. Stop the cultural wars against people’s livelihoods to justify robbing their lands, killing their families, and debasing their cultures. Work towards recognizing a peaceful solution where people can honor their beliefs and express them without fearing their lives will be taken in retaliation. Work towards creating a peace where people express their opposition with the expectation of engagement and not eradication. Work towards creating a peace where resources are shared, not stolen; where exchange is viable and boundaries are recognized.
Work towards balance and love, not pointless distortion for shallow and hollow victories.