If you’ve crawled around the net this morning you’ve probably already seen the white mask commonly known as the Guy Fawkes mask, synonymous now with the hacker group Anonymous. This mask calls back to V for Vendetta, a movie from recent history where one revolutionary man stood up against a tyrannical British government and further back to effigies used to remember the Gunpowder Plot. The story goes back hundreds of years, when a group of Catholics tried to assassinate the then Protestant King of England. The Gunpowder Plot failed, with Fawkes captured as he was guarding barrels of gunpowder under the House of Lords. Many groups claim to stand against such governments, but I find it interesting that these same people have no problem with tyranny when their own party is in charge. They call it freedom or how the “founding fathers” would have wanted it, but we have little idea how those men would interpret the 21st century. Make no mistake, there are people who want to influence you to believe something to be true and they’re willing to make any number of wild claims in hopes of making it so.
History is filled with co-opted symbols, and our current age is no different. Hitler co-opted the swastika from the Buddhist symbol of luck, but it was also used by Hindus and other smaller religious groups before he used in on the flag. In today’s media market symbols are taken from one thing and used to evoke emotion for the next cause, product, or political speech. The difficult part for the average person is being aware of what is being used and how that message is crafted. It is harder to decipher the truth in today’s world than it was years ago. The voices that fill social media and television programming clog the air with opinions, with the sheer amount of information in the ether making for another level of confusion. Outside and inside forces look to manipulate our thoughts, outlook, and political discourse, all in the hope that we will side with their message. They tailor ads and news stories to make the masses mad, or contempt, deciding it would be better to have rallies and riots than honest discussion. These pain points boil over into fights between family and friends, each one chewing out their chosen prefabricated message. This leads to hatred and scorn, separating people along lines the sides have chosen to make.
Violence in any form for political gain is wrong. Heather Heyer was murdered by a man who chose to drive a car over protesters in Charleston. Earlier this year a man opened fire at a congressional baseball practice. Sadly, the list goes on, and it won’t change until we collectively come together to discuss the issues of the day in a rational method. There will always be outliers – those who choose to act with violence rather than understanding – and it is these occasions when they must be defamed by all sides. I still hold out hope that we will find our way back to intelligent and calm discourse, but I fear there are too many people in high places who benefit from our exasperation and our clicks.
This is not to say that I would sit silently by and allow my opinions to be unknown. I am a writer, and it is my duty to speak out in word and deed when I feel our course has deviated from where it should be. Writers are by nature dangerous. We move through life taking in experiences and using them to fuel our chosen method of expression. The list of objections I have with how our government works is lengthy and far too numerous to go into detail here. In short, I believe we can do better, work smarter, and be more equitable with our fellow Americans. I find it deeply troubling we’ve chosen a different path than that, and without a change in course people will continue to suffer for the betterment of those who already have plenty.
Let me close with this:
I urge you to not be co-opted. I urge you to use common sense when you investigate for the truth. I urge you to think before you share that article you just saw. The impulsive nature of our present culture is part of what keeps the aggression machine going. It wants you to jump with fright, to worry and fret. I appeal to you as a former president once did.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Addendum: Fortune smiles on us in these last days of Fall. Change is coming for the House of Diamond once again, and we are looking forward to shedding our current residence and moving into a new home. The path is not done, but some of the largest hills have been climbed. In the coming weeks we’ll be in motion again.
Writing has been off goal this week for me, but I have gotten some movement on the story. The halfway point is reached and now the story really gets a chance to move. I’m getting to know the characters more with each chapter, and they’ve surprised me with the way they’ve reacted to certain points along the way. This month is also NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I’ve had some thoughts on it in the past, but to sum them up – I support you if you’re trying to crack 50K words this month and write a novel – but I also know that more goes into a novel than just words. Good luck to everyone participating and enjoy those edits!