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Symbols and Flags and Burnings oh my..

September 9th, 2010 No comments

This is just a pondering.  It meanders a bit, and doesn’t have a clear conclusion.  I’m sorry.

The burning of a symbol, whether it is religious, political, ideological, etc only holds as much power as we grant it.  Those who are protesting the burning of the Quran have granted that Quran a certain amount of religious value – regardless of whether it is held by someone who feels it has that same religious value.  

To my mind, the value of a symbol only goes as far as the belief that grants it that value, and we can as individuals choose NOT to grant it that value under certain circumstances.  We as thinking beings choose to grant these symbols meaning.  As such, in the hands of a non-believer, a symbol can simply turn into pieces of paper with ink on them.  A Quran is possibly meaningless to a Christian; a Bible is a fond piece of fiction to a Taoist, so on and so forth.

Point is, I wonder if the power of the Quran, Bible, Old Testament, etc only exists when it is in my hands as a believer.   It has meaning to me because I find meaning in the passages, religious, ideological, or political. 
 
So thinking about this symbolic power, what has given the Florida zealot his massive power?  Simply the fact that we’re paying attention to him.  It is the fact that we choose to believe that he actually is doing something by burning some paper. If we to ignore him, choose not to grant him the attention he so clearly craves, take away the press coverage and the presidential begging and the political games – we would take away his power over us.

Of course, doing so requires a leap of faith.  It requires from the faithful person the belief that their faith is stronger than the symbolism and trappings surrounding it.  It challenges the faithful person to find and realize whether or not their faith is strong enough to go on WITHOUT the surrounding dogma that is used daily as a crutch to keep that person going.

You know what?  Whatever your faith is, that’s a scary prospect.  It means you are not going to have the easy route, the blind faith of just going on.  It is however what will give your faith value.  

——

Let us switching direction here – does the law allow the zealot down in Florida to burn the Quran?  Here’s a counter question – does the law allow us to burn a Bible?  An American flag?  The flag of ANY country?  How about a Cross?  The Star of David?  A statue of Buddha?   How about a book?  Does the law let me burn that?

It is a bit more of a trick when you swap the symbol that’s being burned, is it not?   Where is the line drawn, and in whose favor? 

Think of it this way – symbols have been burned for years without the type of outcry that we’re seeing now.   We have argued about it in our own country, when we look at flag burning.   Well here’s the thing – if someone is destroying their own property – do we have grounds to LEGALLY stop them?   I don’t think we do.

However – when the person’s action infringe upon the rights of another person, then the whole game changes.   Burn a flag?  Go ahead!  Burn it on MY property?  Expect a beating.   Burn a cross?  Sure!  Burn it on my LAWN?  Now you’re not talking about freedom of speech, you’re talking about trespass and threatening action!  Burn your Quran?  It’s a piece of paper.  Burn MY Quran – well that’s my property, and it has inherent value to me both as property and as a symbol! 
As such, the factor of whether or not an action can continue lies in whether or not there’s an inherent infringement on our rights.  

In the case of this Pastor – while his proposed actions may be legal – they are only legal as long as he is not infringing on someone else’s rights.  In this case, there’s a pretty grey area.   The truth of the matter is, we know his actions will have repercussions way out of scale compared to the action itself.   That being said, if he’s solely on his own grounds, in the eyes of the law he is OK.   If he were to be legally stopped, the correct question rises, what else is now legally unacceptable?

Then again, his permit for a protest was denied – and he continues to go forward.   As such, if he brings into fruition a scenario that is blatantly unsafe, in this case inciting a worldwide riot – is he not therefore breaking the law?  Ai ya.  It is not an easy argument, nor is it simple, but perhaps legal action is called for.   As a walking embodiment of an internet troll, the Pastor has proven that he probably will not listen to anything other than God himself tapping him in the chest and saying, “Sit down and shut up.”

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The last Shrimp..

June 28th, 2009 No comments

There have been a surprising number of celebrity deaths today.  This post is not about them, but about a tiny little shrimp.. (Halocaridina rubra for those of you who want details..)

Bear with me, and if you think about it perhaps it does relate after all.

—-

I have an ecosphere.  It was given to me when over 10 years ago, when the only place that had them was luxury places like Hammacher Schlemmer.  When they were still new, unique, and interesting.

It had two shrimp.  It was intriguing to me, and lived on the top shelf in my room for years.  Never moving, but every once in a while I’d look up there, stare, and see two shrimp swimming along, living their merry little lives.

Eventually they spawned, a rare event, and had a little babby shrimp.  It was a happy family of three.  As life goes, all things must eventually pass, and one of the parent shrimp died.   One day I looked up there and could only see two.  This made me sad, but again… that’s life.

When I moved out of my parent’s place a month ago, it was down to one, the babby.  Still moving around, though apparently not as “lively” as it used to be, the babby was still toolin’ along.  I left the ecosphere there because I was afraid to bring it to my new apartment, and I didn’t want to disrupt it too much.  (Shaking Ecosphere = bad.)

I’d previously made note of how final it seemed when I moved out and disassembled my bed.  Apparently there were more “final notes” to come to this song.

I was at my parents place for a party today.  At some point my mom brought over the ecosphere.  Apparently in the last couple of days they’d noticed the last babby had stopped moving, and was just sitting there.

I tapped the sphere, trying to elicit a response — nothing.   The babby was gone.  My ecosphere had finally ended its cycle.

…   I’m not hurting, I didn’t have a tight emotional attachment — you kinda can’t hug a shrimp in a closed bubble.  The things had their own happy little life — and only elicited a response from me every once in a while when I still lived there.  I do wonder what kind of a shock it was when I moved the sphere from my room to the living room.

It just seemed..  strange, like another sign that my life has entered another cycle.   It was another constant that suddenly stopped being a constant.

For me, apparently small things have exponential influence on my perception of life.  Go figure.

—-

To constants large or small — may we always appreciate them while they remain so, and not only when they’re gone.

Categories: Life, Random Contemplation Tags: